Sisters Joanne Arnold, 95, left, and Janice Randall, 89, sit with their U.S. military veteran husbands Roland Arnold, 97,  and Dick Randall, 95, following a Veterans Day ceremony at Brookdale Senior Living of Novi last November.

Sisters Joanne Arnold, 95, left, and Janice Randall, 89, sit with their U.S. military veteran husbands Roland Arnold, 97, and Dick Randall, 95, following a Veterans Day ceremony at Brookdale Senior Living of Novi last November.

Photo by Charity Meier

Two couples talk about life, love and marriage

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published February 21, 2024


NOVI — Sisters Joanne Arnold, 95, and Janice Randall, 89, of Novi, have each known their spouses for more than 75 years, but they have very different love stories.

Arnold has been married to her husband, Roland, 97, a World War II veteran, for 75 years, while her sister, who had once been engaged to her current husband, Dick, a Korean War veteran, in the 1950s, was previously married to a different man for 52 years before rekindling the fire with Dick in the mid-2000s.

Joanne and Roland grew up during the Great Depression. Roland moved to Detroit from Louisiana as his father, a cotton farmer, had been struggling to find work in the South and had heard from his older children that there were jobs in Detroit.

“Back then it was tough, but we didn’t know it,” Joanne said. “We always had food on the table. … We all survived.”

Roland and Joanne met in the summer of 1947 through one of his brothers, shortly after he returned from serving in the war in the Army Air Forces 5th Fighter Command. As the story goes, Joanne, who was just finishing high school, was living in an apartment below Roland’s brother and had recently broken up with her boyfriend. Roland’s brother encouraged Roland to go talk to her.

“I just came over there and talked with her, and, ah, I want to go back, and so I went back and I liked much better what I saw, and then that’s how we got together,” Roland said with a laugh as he gazed at his wife. “I couldn’t resist those blue eyes and that gaze, and she had a velvet blue dress on. Man, that got to me right there,” he said.

The two married on Oct. 16, 1948.

“I’m a religious person, and I wanted to settle down, so I asked God for a nice wife, and he gave me one for 75 years. That’s pretty good. When you ask for something, you get it,” Roland said.

“It’s unusual to have your best friend for 75 years. I mean not just your husband, but your best friend. Oh, we’ve had our ups and downs, but minus any arguments, we’ve had those too, but we always come through them,” Joanne said.

“Time has gone by so fast,” Roland said.

“I tell my children, just be with your kids, your grandkids and love on them, because time goes by so fast,” Joanne said.

The Arnolds said that while many relationships don’t seem to last today, they never considered leaving each other or a divorce.

“When you make a commitment, really mean it. … Just don’t throw in the towel every time you have an argument or disagreement. Talk it out. … If you love the person, do you want them really to leave you? I mean, you got to think about something like that,” Joanne said.

“Just as an example, if he wanted to buy a car and I didn’t want to buy a car, I mean, we would come together on it and see why one didn’t want it and why one wanted it, and we’d work it out together, where today I can see where (couples) are like, ‘If we don’t buy it, I’m leaving,’ and that type of thing,” Joanne said.

The Arnolds said they have never gone to bed angry, and that would be the most important piece of advice they would give to a newly married couple.

“If you have a fight, don’t let it linger on. Don’t let it go a day. Talk it over and work it out. Don’t go to bed mad at each other,” Roland said.

“Don’t let it fester,” Joanne said. “That’s probably the best thing. Don’t go to bed at night without taking care of whatever the problem was that day.”

“We always felt real bad if we said something bad, and we are not going to keep it in ourselves. We’re gonna talk it over and get rid of it. Every day we did that,” Roland said.

“We always said making up was fun,” Joanne said with a chuckle.

They don’t argue too much anymore.

“There’s nothing left to argue over,” Joanne said.

The Arnolds raised their three children, Michael, 74, of Novi; Bruce, who passed away a year ago at 68; and Wendy, 59, of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in their Southfield home at 10 Mile and Inkster roads. They have a combined total of 13 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

“And I know all their names, believe it or not,” Joanne said with a laugh.

The Arnolds moved to Brookdale Senior Living in Novi to be near Joanne’s sister, Janice, and her husband, who were already living there.

“And I love it. You know there’s nobody here who’s got sisters or brothers. I thoroughly love it. We have all our meals together. We play cards together. It’s just great. You know, when you’re this age, to have a sibling still living and being together (is special), and we get along wonderful,” Joanne said,

“The life has been full and we have lived it. I’m saying that we had a wonderful time most of our lives,” Roland said. “There was problems here and there. That’s natural, but you overcome those things by not letting them get ahead of you.”

Roland recalled that as a young man he asked a woman in her 80s what was the secret to longevity, and he said she told him, “Don’t worry about anything, because it never comes to happening.”

“And she’s right, because all my life nothing happened that I was worried about. So I think that’s good advice,” he said.

They also attributed the longevity of their marriage to their Christian faith and belief in the importance of the vows that they had taken before God.

It was that same belief in the significance of the marriage vows that kept Joanne’s sister, Janice, in a marriage for over 50 years.

Janice and Dick Randall first met 75 years ago, when they were 14 and 20 years of age. Janice recalled that she was walking home from school with a friend and saw Dick playing baseball in the outfield. She watched him for a long time, and then he finally came over and talked to her. They then dated from 1948 to 1952 and were engaged from 1950 to 1952.  But Janice got back involved with a former boyfriend and called off the engagement while Dick was serving in the Korean War.

“He was my first love and he was the first person that I was engaged to, and I really loved him, but I was young,” Janice said.

Janice, now 89, married the old boyfriend in 1954 and stayed with him for 52 years until he died. She said the marriage was not necessarily fulfilling, as she always loved Dick, but that a vow is a vow, and so she stuck by her husband.

“I was religious and I took a vow to stay with him forever through sickness and in health, for good or bad. So I stayed until he died,” Janice said.

Dick, 95, also was married previously for 40 years until his wife died. He said their secret to a happy marriage was just that he loved her and she loved him in return.

Janice and Dick were reunited through Roland. Roland and Dick had grown up together as neighbors, and so when Roland’s brother passed, Dick attended the funeral and reconnected with Roland.

“Everything led up to (our reunion). There were some mistakes, but those mistakes were always corrected, so, you know, the more we thought about it, I said it had to be somebody doing something on the other end (divine intervention) to get us back together,” Janice said.

They exchanged numbers, but somehow Dick transposed the last two digits. Two years later, Roland somehow managed to figure out the error and contacted Dick to inform him that Janice was in town for a family reunion.

“When he came out and got out of the car, I wanted to run (to him), but I thought I better just walk. I get there. He hugs and kisses my sister and puts his hand out to shake my hand,” Janice said with a laugh. “But at the time he didn’t know if I had a husband or not. … But the first thing I said to him when he put his hand out was, ‘After 50 years all I get is a lousy handshake?’ And I kissed him. I said the heck with it. I floored him. He should have known I hadn’t changed.”

Janice recalled her brother, who took a lot of photographs, asking them to go through albums and take any photos they wanted. She said the first album they picked up happened to be of the two of them when they were younger, and as they started to look at it, she felt his hand join hers.

The two never stopped talking after that moment, and within a year they went to a little wedding chapel in Las Vegas on Oct. 25, 2006, and at long last could call each other husband and wife.

“When he came back it was my lifelong dream. He was there, always. He was always there. I never forgot him. In fact, that was probably (the reason for) some of my problems,” Janice said. “God figured it was time when we got back together. I said he had a reason to keep us apart all those years.”

Dick has five children from his first marriage, 18 grandchildren and 42 great-grandchildren. Janice has three children from her first marriage, six grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Janice and Dick have now been married to each other for more than 17 years. The Randalls unknowingly offered the same advice to newly married couples — never go to bed angry.

“Always make up before you go to bed,” Dick said.

“That’s the only way you can get through it,” Janice added. “Because if you carry it on, then it can last too long and it gets harder to make up.”

She said that when her kids asked about why she didn’t stay with Dick initially, she said it was because God wanted them to be born. She said she hopes she and Dick make it to 20 years, as most people didn’t think they would make it even five years together because of their ages.

“And here we still are, together,” Janice said.