Valentine’s Day advice: ‘Listen more than talk’

By James Grob,

This Valentine’s Day, young couples should heed the advice of Charles City’s Jack Kamm.

He knows the secret to making a marriage last.

“Listen, more than you talk,” he said.

Jack and his wife, Norma, should know — they’re approaching 69 years of marriage. They are scheduled to reach that number on June 25.

“I hope we can make it to 69 years, I think we probably will,” Norma said. “We get along pretty good.”

Norma said one of the reasons she and Jack get along is that they’ve always both known what their roles are in their marriage.

“He did his thing and I did my thing,” Norma said. “I raised the kids and he was making money to keep us going.”

Jack is now 92 and Norma is 88. When they exchanged wedding vows at St. John Lutheran Church in Charles City in 1950, Jack was 24 and Norma was 19.

“Life is a lot more fun at 24 than it is at 92,” Jack said.

Jack was born in Rudd and Norma was born in Charles City.

“Rudd use to have a big dance hall back then,” Jack said. “We’d go to dances; that’s where we met.”

“My dad would take me and a friend, and we’d go up there and dance,” Norma added.

Just like in the movies, the romance began on the dance floor and has lasted almost 70 years.

Jack was in college at the time, at Iowa State, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering, and Norma was in high school.

In their early years as a married couple, Jack used to travel extensively with his work. He said he’s been in every state in the continental U.S. except Delaware, Kentucky and Nevada — although he flew over Nevada.

Over the years they have lived in Des Moines; Omaha; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Minot, North Dakota, among other locales. They returned to Charles City in 1968 and moved onto Norma’s family farm, south of Charles City. They lived there until about three years ago, when they moved into town, at Hammond Riverfront Homes, with a beautiful view of the Cedar River.

“This is just the best place we ever could have found,” Norma said.

They have four children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Norma said that when a couple is starting to get on each other’s nerves, it’s time to look at the positive and count your blessings.

“You just sometimes have to realize that it could be worse,” she said.