Mary says, "I was engaged in August of 1952. Unfortunately, it wasn't to Robert!"
Robert and Mary had known each other for almost two years at that time, when they saw each other at the movies. On seeing Robert there, she bounced over and flashed her engagement ring, "So what do you think?"
Robert states, "I wasn't one for hiding my true feelings and without missing a beat I exclaimed, "Mary Lou, that's the dumbest thing you've ever done!" Luckily for me, it turned out I was right. Mary Lou broke up in January, and I pounced!"
For their first date, Robert invited Mary to one of his basketball games, when he was allegedly, "hotter than his first wrist watch", meaning one would assume, that he was playing very well. His plan to "really impress this girl" appeared to be working...until the coach pulled him out of the game. An obviously infuriated Robert stormed off the court and slammed himself down on a poor, unsuspecting chair, which subsequently collapsed, leaving Robert sprawled out on the floor and Mary in hysterics!
After getting married in November of 1953, the Stufflebams moved into their love-nest. This particular love-nest happened to be an old army barracks that had been converted into married student housing. "It was so small, we had to go outside to change our minds," jokes Robert. For the young, freshly married couple, those poor, somewhat cramped, but altogether carefree times formed some of their fondest memories.
"We learned, because of getting married his last year in college, and before medical school, internships and residency, to work as one with respect and a sense of humor," says Mary. There is no doubt that humor plays a huge part in their lives and they both mentioned humor as one of the qualities that drew them to each other. "I was drawn to her bubbly personality, and knew that she was the one right off the bat," says Robert. Mary describes Robert, "He has a sense of warmth about him, which makes me feel very important, as well as a real sense of respect for everyone."
Robert's onset of asthma in 1980 was tough on both of them. Robert, who was used to being healthy, was taken by surprise when he discovered that he needed medical assistance to perform one of the most basic human functions, and hated spending nights attached to breathing machines. For Mary, it came down to pure fear, fear of losing her husband. There were times when she truly believed, "he was a goner," times when Mary, who had never given anyone a shot in her life, had to give Robert a shot of life-saving adrenaline. In one particular case, when even that didn't work, she was ready to "take on" the 911 dispatcher who was asking her if she had administered the dose correctly. Thankfully, it just took a little longer that time to take effect.
Robert is very grateful for his 62-year marriage. "Going into the marriage, I admit that I was a complete pessimist, and I struggled with trying to be positive. Now, thanks to Mary, the glass is always half full," says Robert. He admits he has also learned how to bond as a family from observing Mary and her family together. Robert, who came from a "rather scattered family," now really values the benefits of having a close-knit extended family.
"Robert has taught me a lot about dedication...and dedication to community," says Mary, who then adds, "we are very much into togetherness. Perhaps the secret to our 62-year marriage is that, you know, we just really, really enjoy having fun together!"