But she could always depend on George, she said.
"He promised me that when things got better, I would never want for anything. When he was promoted and promoted and got to that point in his life, he kept his word.”
Health problems also have challenged the Butlers' strength. George recently endured a kidney transplant after having been on dialysis for five years because of kidney failure.
"It happened so fast. I had just about given up on it,” he said. Since he was older than 60, he didn't expect to be a high priority for a transplant.
"I got a 20-year-old kidney in a 60-something-year-old body,” he said. He was up walking the day after his transplant in September 2008, and he said he feels great today. "I just feel sorry for his (the donor's) family.”
Through it all, the Butlers' strong marriage has been the rock they've held to. George said their marriage is better today than it was when they got married, and it keeps getting better.
The Butlers agree that patience with each other has been the most important thing in their marriage.
"It just takes a lot of patience, I guess, and determination,” George said. "I can't replace her; even if I tried, I couldn't replace her.”
They also agree that having their own interests and ways to relax is important.
George loves to hunt and fish. Oleta used to go fishing with him, but these days, she said she would rather not.
"I'm afraid of snakes at the lake,” she said.
Instead, she looks forward to coming home from work, changing into some comfortable house clothes, dimming the lights in her bedroom and watching television for a while to unwind.
"Give me a Diet Dr Pepper and some peace and quiet,” she said, laughing. "That is my thing. I love it.”Inspiring Couples
Are you a grandparent raising your grandchildren? Oleta Butler wants you to know resources and services are available for you. The organization she works for, Oasis, provides respite care workers for adults caring for an aging parent, or grandparents older than 55 in a parental role to their grandchildren or another relative. The program is income-based. For more information, call (888) 771-4550.
Sunbeam Family Services also offers support and services to grandparents raising grandchildren as well as adults caring for an aging family member. Sunbeam Senior Services is not income-based and provides support groups, free counseling, free school supplies and a Christmas gift program. For more information, call 528-7721 and ask for Senior Services.
Oleta and George Butler are featured in the "Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples” 2010 calendar, sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. The couples featured in the calendar are being profiled in The Oklahoman's Life section each month. For more information about the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative's inspiring couples, go online to www.foreverforreal.com.