Above: Jim and Anne Sheahan pose at the Palace of Versailles during one of their recent trips; photo courtesy of Jim and Anne Sheahan

More than 51 years have passed since Jim and Anne Sheahan were married in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. Looking back, they said, “It felt like the perfect time to choose a life partner.”

Jim was working at the Peace Corps in public relations. It was a new role for him—following two years of his service living as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

“I worked at the Peace Corps office, too,” Anne said. “Before that, I had been teaching elementary school for three years in Oregon.”

Although happily living at home with her parents (who themselves achieved 69 years of marriage), Anne says she left home at the age of 24 and moved across the country.

Their paths didn’t cross until a friend arranged a blind date.

“That’s all it took,” Jim said. Less than a year later they were married.

Compatibility was key, they both admit. Their mutual love of travel has been a central theme in their lives. After their jobs at the Peace Corps and Anne’s inspiring work with the White House Press Office, Jim got a new job that took them away from “The District” to a New York City life.

Like many couples in the mid 1960s, the Sheahans knew from the start what their roles would be: he as the breadwinner and she as the supportive wife and mother of their two daughters.

Anne says she continued to enjoy her love of teaching by working as a substitute teacher when she could. Much later, she worked at Barnes & Noble. That was also a good fit as she’s an avid reader.

Forty-one years ago, the Sheahans settled in Dunwoody. That’s where Jim embarked on a long and successful public relations career with Siemens.

During that time, Jim encouraged Anne while she learned how to scuba dive, “so we could be diving buddies on our many Caribbean trips,” she said.

When asked how they have achieved their enduring, loving relationship, they both agree on three words: love, respect and patience.

Anne and Jim have supported each other in their separate and shared interests and endeavors, and they have thoroughly enjoyed world travel together. Ireland, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Kenya and Israel hold many memories for the two of them.

“Most recently we were off to France to cap off our 50 years of adventure together,” Anne said with a smile. “It was a wonderful trip.”

Travel has also played an important part in the lives of Lewis and Helen Walker of Johns Creek. In the fall of 2017, they celebrated their Golden 50th wedding anniversary.

Lewis, an entrepreneur and pioneer in financial planning, says one key to a successful marriage is “staying out of each other’s hair by having distinct roles.”

Helen and Lewis Walker enjoy a refreshment during a cruise in French Polynesia; photo courtesy of Lewis and Helen Walker

He willingly shares how his wife nurtured the children, giving him the freedom to build a successful business. With success came the world—as traveling has been a passion of Lewis’ since childhood.

“We’ve visited all seven continents, including Antarctica,” which he says is spectacular.

Solid finances have made all this travel possible for the Walkers. However, they didn’t start out with a golden bank account. Money was earned and saved the old-fashioned way.

“I was a Vietnam veteran, having served in country in 1963 and 64. By the time we met, United Airlines was my employer,” Lewis said. He was in a management-training program at the Philadelphia airport.

At that time, his wife-to-be was a high school art teacher. “We lived in apartment complexes across the street from each other and were introduced by a common friend,” he explained. The rest is history.

Their happy marriage has led to a thriving financial planning and asset management practice. Lewis says that he had resolved to be free of debt before “normal retirement age.” He has achieved his goal, except for the retirement part.

“Staying active with purpose is a key to mental and physical health in one’s later years,” he said.

That’s a point with which Helen agrees. “Some retirees drive each other nuts,” she said. It’s obviously not something she has to worry about.

Judi Kanne

Judi Kanne is a public health communications consultant and contributing writer to Atlanta Senior Life.