Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

November 24, 2013

'Still his sweetheart'

Henry and June Buchholz still in love after 60 years of marriage.

By Kelly Lafferty
Kokomo Tribune

---- — When 22-year-old June Litwiller moved from Ontario, Canada, to take over as the college nurse at Huntington College in 1951, she took classes to get her bachelor’s degree, got free room and board, and unexpectedly met her future husband.

It was a small college, and June was a few years older than the average college student during that time. One of her duties as school nurse was to call the students into her office to fill out forms about any illnesses or allergies they had.

One of the students that came by her office was 22-year-old Huntington College football player Henry Buchholz.

There was an instant attraction. June thought Henry was good looking and Henry thought June was a cute girl, but time went by until they went on their first date. It was to an outdoor movie showing of "Showboat."

“He said he wasn’t watching the movie,” June said. “He was watching me instead. I didn’t know that until later.”

Since their memorable first date, watching "Showboat" became a tradition for Henry and June. They’ve watched it dozens of times over the years.

“Showboat became very special for us,” Henry said.

Henry wasn’t the only guy at Huntington College vying for June’s attention, though. The school’s young choir director liked her too.

“He had a better car than me,” Henry said. “He certainly had more music knowledge than me. He had more money than me.”

When the choir director took June, who was a choir member, along with the rest of the choir on a trip to Chicago, Henry was disappointed and a little jealous. But he didn’t let it get him down.

“I was a lot more robust than he was,” Henry said. I could’ve trimmed his clock pretty easily. He wasn’t any physical threat to me.”

Unfortunately for Henry, the choir director wasn’t his only competition. One of Henry’s teammates, a backup quarterback, liked June, too.

“He had a sickening line that he liked nurses,” Henry said. “His mom was a nurse. That was his connection to June on that date.”

As for June, she always liked Henry the best. He was down to earth, and they enjoyed the same things.

“I liked him better,” June said. “He was more compatible. He was more my type and I just preferred him.”

Henry and June dated for a year and a half and went to movies, watched the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and acted in plays together.

During a trip to June’s home in Ontario during the fall of 1952, Henry got permission from June’s father to marry her as the two guys washed dishes together.

“I liked her,” Henry said. “I liked everything about her and I had evidently won her over at least two other guys.”

When the couple left to go back to Huntington, they were so excited to tell everyone in Indiana that they were engaged.

Unfortunately, the celebratory news had to be postponed for a little bit since the couple got sick on the drive back.

A valve on Henry’s 1940 Chevrolet came off and hit a piston causing fumes to get in the car. Both June and Henry became ill.

“He was driving with his head out the window so he could get air and not get sick in the car,” June said.

The couple made it through the ordeal and on June 24, 1953, they were married in Kitchener, Ontario when they were both 24.

“I just felt it was right,” June said. “I felt like he was the one I wanted. I loved him.”

Right after they were married, Henry, who was completing officer training for the U.S. Navy, got orders to go to California. The couple drove across the country on Route 66 during the hot summer with no air conditioning. They used a dish pan of ice that was kept near June’s feet in the car as a way to cool down.

After he finished training, Henry got his orders to go to Pearl Harbor. He took a short leave and the couple drove back to Huntington. Henry went back to fulfill his naval orders on the other side of the country, but June stayed in Huntington to finish her degree.

Henry went to Japan, Korea and Hong Kong during his tour and was gone for a year. The couple wrote a lot of letters to each other.

“It was terrible,” June said. “It was hard. He couldn’t call like you can now. He called once from Hong Kong.”

After the year of absence, Henry had more training to attend, but this time June got to come with him. After more training in California, the couple ended up going to Hawaii where Henry had a six month tour. While he was gone, their first child was born.

The newlyweds were happy when they were able to see each other.

“We didn’t have any problems other than being sad when we were separated,” June said.

Henry was finally discharged and after moving several times, the couple settled in Kokomo in 1963 where Henry was a physics teacher at Kokomo High School for 28 years.

They’ve enjoyed many happy years together and with their five children.

“We’ve had rough patches and we’ve had a lot of good things happen,” June said. “We’ve lived through it with a lot of love and patience.”

June had cancer and Henry has had a triple bypass, but throughout their illnesses, they became closer since they’ve had to depend on each other.

“You know more what your spouse’s weaknesses and strengths are,” Henry said. “You can help each other.”

Sixty years has gone by since the Buchholz’s were married, and they say their relationship has grown over those years.

“Naturally you change with age, but it’s changed for the better,” June said. “You just love each other.”

Open communication and honesty has helped Henry and June have a successful marriage. They said it helps to understand where the other person is coming from.

“I still love her and I probably don’t tell her often enough,” Henry said.

“Every night he says ‘Good night, sweetheart,’” June said. “So I guess I’m still his sweetheart.”