Seventy-three years ago Thursday, Marilyn Jean Burnett married Dan Antenen in a candlelight evening service at The Presbyterian Church in downtown Hamilton.
The bride wore an ivory brocaded gown with a hip-length veil and carried a bouquet of gardenias, roses and stephanotis, with cathedral tapers gleaming from a seven-branched candelabra at the altar.
The seven-plus decades since have been equally elegant for the couple, who on Thursdaysat on the patio of their West Side condominium reminiscing about their nearly lifelong romance and the blessings they’ve shared.
Dan Antenen is a 94-year-old engineer whose Antenen Construction Co. built additions onto most of the factories that gave Hamilton its industrial muscle — including the sturdiest part of the warehouse in Lindenwald that recently burned down, and the city’s electric plant. Marilyn Antenen,93, volunteered many places through the years, including at the YWCA in Hamilton.
The secret to their marital success?
“You have to be in love with one another,” Dan Antenen said.
“I think that’s it,” Marilyn Antenen agreed.
There was an attraction from the start, as the two entered fourth grade at Madison elementary school. Young Marilyn sat next to classmate Gayle Timberman Miller, who would become a lifelong friend. Without saying hello or anything else to Gayle, she asked, “Who’s that boy up there?”
“She must have liked my look,” Dan Antenen said.
“By sixth grade, I’d have to say we were young lovers,” he said. He attended a couple of her birthday parties. By the time he was attending Roosevelt Junior High School and she was at Wilson Junior High, they had no contact.
They reunited halfway through senior year at Hamilton High School (Class of 1943), when they sat next to each other in typing class. By then, she was editor of the school’s newspaper. All the young men in the class eventually were drafted for World War II, in which Antenen served in the Army’s 20th Armored Division, including in Europe for five months. He later attended the University of Cincinnati, and she went to DePauw University.
The couple shows obvious love for each other, gently touching. In the past year, as Marilyn has had health issues, their three children have never seen them kiss so often.
What does he like best about her? “Her pleasantness,” he said, for which she thanked him.
And her favorite attribute about him? “His intelligence,” she said.
Among their blessings they noted are three grown children: Steven Antenen, Mary McIlroy and Kate Vonder Bruegge.