For him, the job was never about being paid. â€œIt was a job I enjoyed. I did it a month as a volunteer. After a month, they hired me and put me on the payroll.â€
Anita Martinez said what she found so rewarding was how much she learned from the seniors. Though she was there to teach them, she learned as much from them as they did from her.
In 1999, the couple won the Governor's Arts Award for their efforts to help Oklahoma City Hispanic seniors. Both have received more awards than they can remember.
The two met in February 1947 at the Trianon Ballroom. He had been out of the service for just a few months and operated a grill serving sandwiches and hamburgers. He walked over to the ballroom and saw her coming down the stairs with her cousins.
â€œI spotted her immediately, and I said, â€˜I'm taking this girl home.'â€
She said, â€œWe laughed all the way home. He was so funny.â€
She remembers thinking he was friendly and a good dancer. When he asked her to dance, she said no. She was used to dancing with her female cousins.
His reply: â€œI said I didn't want to dance anyway. I just wanted to hold her.â€
They did dance. â€œI started to lead, and he said, â€˜No, I lead you.'â€
They married that year on July 3, and they've been laughing and enjoying each other's company since. She said he's a good husband, father, brother-in-law and grandfather. They have four children.
â€œWe've always shown respect for each other,â€ he said. Even if they argue, they let go. â€œFrom one day to the next, we would forget what we argued about. We've had a good marriage.â€
Their zest for life is contagious, even with his 15 years with Parkinson's.
â€œI don't have a real bad case of it,â€ he said. As he gets older, his muscles are becoming affected. â€œI can walk once I get on my feet,â€ he said.
She said: â€œWhat makes me feel good is that he doesn't hurt.â€
â€œJust a little bit of shake, rattle and roll,â€ he said.
Laughing and loving seems to be their secret for 63 years.
â€œWe sit here and reminisce a lot of times,â€ she said.
Once she said, â€œLet's dance, Viejo. I'll lead you.â€
â€œWe can't even walk to the car, much less go dancing,â€ he said, both of them laughing at the memory.
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Anita and Jesse Martinez are featured in the â€œOklahoma's Most Inspiring Couplesâ€ 2010 calendar, sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. 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 to www.foreverforreal.com.