That handsome, white-haired couple you may see conversing over burgers and fries at the Friendswood McDonald’s has a history known to only a few. Married for 59 years now, the pair said that God brought them together at a grill. The year was 1958, three years after Ray Kroc first discovered how to make real money in fast food.
“We were working at the same drive-in restaurant,” Roger Von Deylen said. “We went together off and on for about two years and then the Lord told me that this was the one.”
And that faithful leading was mutual, of course, or you’d not be reading this.
“I was a carhop and Roger worked on the grill,” Nancy Von Deylen said. “Roger would ask me out on dates and also take me to church on Sundays. He wanted me to take (spiritual formation) instructions and after that I was baptized.”
Young marrieds tend to enjoy bliss, but such a state never lasts long. In this veil of tears, all unions are tested.
“We lost three babies,” Roger said. “We will see them again in heaven. His love is enough for every Christian, since we will be in heaven with the Lord.”
And there’s always an upside, Nancy added.
“We also had two healthy sons,” she said. “They went through the Lutheran grade school, high school in Wisconsin and Lutheran college. Our older is a teacher and younger, the Rev. Marc Von Deylen, is a minister at Lord of Life Lutheran Church here in Friendswood.”
And after all these years, what has the male Von Deylen learned?
“Always put Christ first in your life,” he said. “Second, place your family. Raise your family for Christ. Go to church as often as you can. When you miss, church, feel bad.”
His bride of almost six decades agrees.
“Everything we have is by his grace,” she said. “Our eight grandchildren now are following in the same path. Sending them away to high school is hard, but the results have been heartwarming. So for newlyweds, I’d say, ‘Keep God in your life. be kind to one another, never belittle. Always hold each other in high esteem. Don’t divorce. Work things out. Pray.’”
Paul and Phyllis Hart are a Jewish couple who met not at McDonald’s, but who instead found “like” at first sight in Las Vegas, Nev., many years ago.
“God truly did bring us together,” Phyllis said. “While we were both living in Las Vegas many years ago, so many friends and family tried to introduce us but to no avail. We just had to meet on our own and we did in 1964. It was ‘like’ at first sight and after many months of togetherness and working out logistics we were married in 1966.”
Paul said while their well-meaning friends kept getting the timing wrong for their forced introductions, God had it just right. Though he endured an unexpected Jewish “Tevilah.” or ritual cleansing by water at their initial encounter.
“One night, I felt like eating some Italian food and asked my brother and his girlfriend to join me at the Copa Lounge,” he recalled. “We were seated by the most adorable, smiley girl, named Phyllis. She took our drink order and after delivering the order she accidentally spilled the drink all over me.”
It was a sign from God that led to laughter and their bonding for life — all for the love of linguine.
“If I hadn’t listened to my craving for Italian I might have never met my bride,” Paul said.
The synagogue soon became the center of their newly-formed family.
“I worked at the synagogue for many years as my children attended school there,” she said. “Our community was tightly knit. We knew all of our kid’s friends and their parents. Our faith-based community was always there for us when we needed them.”
Her husband recalled the same benefits.
“Our faith in God and involvement in our synagogue helped to get us through life’s trials and tribulations,” he said. “Those that come through raising children, working and taking care of our parents throughout the years.”
Their advice for those who will wed soon?
“You two can determine your own life,” she said. “God will always be there to support you through your ups and downs. You must have faith. Only you can make yourselves happy.”
And we’ll give Paul Hart the last word this week.
“We really don’t ask God for much, but we do thank him for all we have,” he said. “Our wonderful children and grandchildren are such an important part of our lives. Through health issues and the various curveballs that life has thrown us, we always try our best to maintain a sense of humor and not to sweat the small stuff.”
Next week in Our Faith: A national publisher picks a religious author from Texas City for printing. Meet her and find out about her story.