Staying in step secret to 71 years of marriage
Belfast — Howard and Doris Herbert, both 91, have been dance partners since Howard first formally met Doris at a grange hall dance more than 75 years ago, and they've been inseparable ever since.
"We've danced together since we were 14 years old," said Doris with a smile. "We were sweethearts all through Crosby High School."
Fast-forward to Wednesday, Oct. 3, when the Herberts — who are now in their 90s — celebrated 71 years of marriage and a lifetime's worth of memories.
"We've danced together in Las Vegas, and on the Mississippi Queen during a trip down the Mississippi River," remembered Doris, who added that their favorite song to dance to is "The Tennessee Waltz."
"I think that's the secret to our longevity," said Doris, as Howard nodded and grinned in agreement. "... In fact, we've tried to dance together with our walkers."
The Herberts have a long history of cutting a rug together, having won plenty of dance contests both here and at their former winter home in Zephyr Hills, Fla., where the duo were also shuffleboard champions and instructors.
For the last five years, the Herberts have resided at The Residence at Tall Pines. The couple moved together to Belfast from their home in Morrill, which Howard built himself. The Herberts still own the building that houses the post office in Morrill, which they have leased to the U.S. Postal Service since 1986.
The couple ran a poultry farm in Morrill for 28 years, a business that Howard said was a good way to support himself and his wife, and later, their son.
"The poultry business was just getting started when we got married," said Howard.
After some gentle prodding from Doris, Howard humbly admitted that the farm was at one time the largest of its kind in Maine.
The Herberts are also proud of the service they each gave the community. Howard served on the Morrill Board of Selectmen for 11 years, and played a role in the construction of the Gladys Weymouth School. Doris served as the tax collector for the town in 1971, and during that year she said she collected 100 percent of the property taxes that were due the town.
"I felt so proud, you know," said Doris. "And it never has been done since."
The Herberts also worked for the Waldo County Sheriff's Office under former sheriffs Fred Meserve and Stan Knox. Howard was a deputy and Doris was a deputy matron, a job she said was necessary in those days, because the Waldo County Jail had no space to house female inmates.
"I transported the women prisoners up to Skowhegan," said Doris, adding that she wore a badge for the job and insisted on using her own vehicle because it was more comfortable.
After wrapping up operations at the poultry farm, the Herberts built a new home in the village and Howard ran a construction business until the two retired. Then they began a new chapter of their lives, spending 21 winters in Florida.
When they weren't working, the Herberts were active members of Honesty Grange, the local farm bureau and 4-H Club. Any time they knew of someone in town celebrating a milestone birthday or anniversary, the Herberts took the lead in planning such gatherings.
"We're party people, that's for sure," said Doris.
Along with maintaining active social lives, the Herberts say fostering strong family ties is another component to their successful marriage.
Doris was born in Morrill at her grandparents' home, which is commonly known as the Blood homestead. The home has always remained in her family, Doris said, and that family has grown exponentially in the 43 years since she and Howard began organizing the annual Blood family reunions.
"We can't imagine what life would be without a loving family," said Doris.
The Herberts raised a son, and these days they also enjoy the company of three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The two pulled out some of their scrapbooks while talking with The Republican Journal Thursday, Sept. 27, including their high school yearbook, which depicted a young Doris and Howard sitting on opposite sides of a table.
"At recess he'd always come into my homeroom," said Doris.
Their friends at school seemed to know Doris and Howard had a future together as well. On their graduation day, their classmates gave them a set of imitation wedding bands.
"We never did let them down," commented Howard.
"And we've had fantastic lives," added Doris.
Doris said that above all else, a successful marriage is all about compromise.
"It has to be a 50-50 proposition, it's give-and-take," she said.
Howard said being married as long as they have hasn't always been easy, but he wouldn't change any of the time he's had with Doris.
"It was hard work. We winged it a little," he said.