Listen, don’t yell, and dance now and again — advice from a Forest View couple married 75 years

Tony and Lorraine Faikus married not long after the end of World War II. They have two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

SHARE Listen, don’t yell, and dance now and again — advice from a Forest View couple married 75 years
Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, who will be celebrating 75 years of marriage, dance together to an old Bohemian love song in their living room Thursday in their suburban Forest View home.

Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, will be celebrating 75 years of marriage on Monday.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

One measure of Tony and Lorraine Faikus’ life together is the hillock of flowers on their coffee table to celebrate their marriage.

Another is the two children they raised, the five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren they lived to see.

There are other, more poignant measures — the number of hours that pass while she’s out grocery shopping and he’s left fretting and “lonesome” at home.

Or the number of their friends who have died in recent years. Or even the number of days, months or years they might still have left together.

On Monday, they’ll mark 75 mostly blissful years of marriage. That’s right, 75 years. He is 99. She is 95. They are planning a big party Sunday to celebrate at a banquet Hall in McCook. All of the couple’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren plan to be there — as well as a bridesmaid from their wedding in 1948.

“But we’ve known each other for 77,” says a still-trim Tony Faikus, his white hair close-cropped, his blue eyes alert — much like they were, it’s possible to imagine, when he was flying fighter planes over the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Beside him on the sofa in their Forest View home sits Lorraine Faikus, her hair newly coiffed, a string of pearls resting against a blue-and-white blouse.

Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, who will be celebrating 75 years of marriage, sit in their living room Thursday in their suburban Forest View home.

Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, in their living room in suburban Forest View.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

He was born in the former Czechoslovakia and she is of Czech stock, born in Downers Grove. They met after the war at a Czech gymnastics club in Crystal Lake. She could be found on the balance beam or the parallel bars. He excelled at the horizontal bar. When the gymnasts assembled into a human pyramid, he was the guy right at the point.

If Lorraine was impressed with his strength and physique, she doesn’t say so.

“He has a sense of humor. He sings a lot. He was nice with me,” she says.

He also came with some baggage — not a term she uses, though. He flew fighter planes over the Pacific, losing 55 buddies in his squadron during the war.

“This experience he had leaked out here and there,” she says. “The older he got, the more I found out. He didn’t want to talk about it, ’cause he lost so many buddies.”

He came home from the war with malaria, spending five months in a Michigan hospital. At one point, a hospital doctor came to his bed and said they were sending him home.

“He said, ‘You go home, son, and drink beer and smoke all the cigarettes you want and you’re going be fine,’” Tony recalls the doctor saying.

Everyone smoked in those days. They handed out cigarettes like candy at the airbase — a way to fill time during a 7 1/2-hour flight for bombing runs.

“That’s a long time to sit there and look at the ocean,” Tony says.

Tony and Lorraine both smoked — and they both quit at about the same time in 1963.

Tony credits his wife’s cooking — lots of meat and heavy cream — for restoring his health.

She still cooks the world’s best svickova, a roast beef dish with sour-cream gravy.

The 1948 wedding photo for Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, who will be celebrating 75 years of marriage in less than a week, sits framed in their living room Thursday in their suburban Forest View home.

The 1948 wedding photo of Tony and Lorraine Faikus.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The couple has two children, Cheryl and Glenn, who has himself been married for almost 50 years.

“I call them salt-and-pepper shakers. They are the same. … Whatever my dad is thinking, my mother is going to say the same,” says Cheryl, who is divorced but remains close friends with the father of her two daughters.

“Love is an emotion, and it can go away, become hate if you let it. … If you like the person in the first place — and love too — that’s the secret,” says Glenn.

Listening to each other and not yelling are part of the recipe for success in marriage, Tony said.

A sprinkle of dancing helps. Tony and Lorraine loved to do the jitterbug and the polka in their younger years. And they still dance. Every Sunday, after breakfast, they put on a CD of old Bohemian love songs — heavy on the brass and the accordion.

Would they care to demonstrate?

The music begins to play. Glenn helps his father up to his feet.

“There’s lots of clinging,” says Lorraine, as the couple embrace, Tony resting a hand on her back.

She leans her head into his neck. They rotate two or three times, sway gently, and then without an exchange of words, she whispers, “OK, that’s all.”

Tony and Lorraine Faikus, 99 and 95 years old, respectively, who will be celebrating 75 years of marriage, hold hands as they sit in their living room Thursday in their suburban Forest View home.

Tony and Lorraine Faikus have two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Latest
Sure, it’s early, but the Sky — riding a four-game losing streak — are outside of the playoff picture.
The three-alarm blaze broke out about 6 p.m. Tuesday at Commercial Pallet, 2029 W. Hubbard St., according to the Chicago Fire Department. Crews were rotated out as high temperatures and humidity made the firefight more difficult.
A record 2.25 million viewers tuned into CBS Sports’ broadcast of the Sky’s 91-83 loss to Indiana.
Sade Robinson, 19, was reported missing April 2. Maxwell Anderson, 33, is charged with killing and dismembering Robinson. Robinson’s body parts were found in various areas near Milwaukee.