MANATEE -- Anyone looking for the definition of "swashbuckling" need look no further than the 78-year romance of Buzz and Jane Walker.
Their relationship has been flamboyant, daring and romantic since they met in 1937, and married in 1940.
Today, they are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary with about 50 family members and friends.
The two met when Buzz rode into West Terre Haute, Ind., from Illinois on a motorcycle to take a job with a sawmill.
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"He had no car, but he had a motorcycle, and I wanted a ride on it," Jane recalled. "That's how it started."
Jane's family embraced Buzz -- her father also liked motorcycles -- and in 1940 they got married.
For their honeymoon, the newlyweds rode a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle from Terre Haute to Los Angeles.
The three-week trip cost them all of $113.
Since then, they have had
many adventures, many Valentine's Days, and nearly one dozen motorcycles.
It's been a remarkably smooth ride. The couple share similar interests, and they work at their marriage to keep it strong. They always assumed that they were marrying forever, and never looked for a reason to bail out of the relationship.
They share a love of boating, square dancing, and camping. In earlier days, they might square dance three times a day, and once went to a world square-dance festival in Austria.
"She enjoyed most of the things that I liked. She led me into square dancing and I really enjoyed it," Buzz said.
On Buzz' 90th birthday, the couple's sons, Bob and Pete, took them camping on an island off the coast of Fort Myers.
There was no running water, and they had to carry in all their supplies, says family friend Ruth De Boer.
"They thoroughly enjoyed the days they spent roughing it," De Boer said.
There haven't been any really bad times, or relationship-threatening fights.
"When you married in 1940, you married forever," Jane said. "It never entered my mind to get a divorce."
Well, there was one rough patch when Buzz bought a new motorcycle without her consent during one of her two pregnancies.
"I think that was the closest we ever came to splitting up," Jane said. "I had been wanting a desk that he said I couldn't have ...
"I went down the next day and bought the desk. And I thought, 'If he says anything, I'm going to go back and buy the chair that goes with it, and that's the way it's going to be.'"
Buzz didn't say a word.
"For once I kept my mouth shut, and it paid off," he said.
Buzz, 98, a retired Shell Oil employee, and Jane, 95, a former editor with Taste of Home magazine, have lived in Golf Lake Estates, a manufactured-home community, for 18 years. They previously lived in West Terre Haute, Prescott, Ariz., and Medford, Ore.
The sense of community in a place like Golf Lake Estates, where amenities are shared and neighbors freely visit one another, has helped them flourish well in their golden years. Both are still relatively healthy and mentally sharp -- although they have given up riding motorcycles.
No surprise, that despite all their adventures, the couple consider the births of their two sons, Bob and Pete, as the highlight of their marriage.
"It was a lot of fun growing up with them. They instilled their sense of adventure in me," said the oldest son, Bob, who traveled from Portland, Ore., to be with his parents for their anniversary.
The younger son, Pete Walker, didn't have to travel as far to get to the anniversary celebration. He lives on Longboat Key.
"They have been very understanding and supportive of everything that I have done," Pete Walker said.
The sons inherited their parents' love of motorcycles and the water.
"Pete and I pretty much grew up on boats," Bob Walker said.
The sons know that their family life was a little different than their friends.
"We lucked out," Bob Walker said.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.