Lois and Leonard Hains, each a spry 100 years old, were quite flabbergasted they won the Cutest Couple photo contest.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Leonard, who is the more talkative and outgoing of the two. “I thought it was for young people.”
The couple, who live at Grand Arbor in Alexandria, have been married for 75 years. Their anniversary was Jan. 25 and they celebrated with a party.
Last year, they both turned 100 – Leonard on March 16 and Lois on Aug. 14. And of course, there was a party.
Lois quietly said she didn’t really want to win because she was afraid there would be too much that would follow afterward, too much hoopla like the anniversary and birthday parties. But Lois also said she was happy that the money went to a good cause.
The proceeds from the Cutest Couple Contest, sponsored by the Echo Press, Elden’s Fresh Foods and Willy T’s, were donated to Someplace Safe of Douglas County.
Of the 9,272 votes, Lois and Leonard garnered more than one-third with a total of 3,156 votes. At 25 cents per vote, the couple raised $789. The total donation to Someplace Safe was $2,318.
Having been married for more than seven decades, Lois and Leonard shared some sage advice for couples.
“Try a little harder to get along,” said Lois. “We’ve never had trouble getting along. But you just have to work at it.”
Leonard said, “Try to be pleasant. Be kind and gentle.”
He also said they have never fought, but quickly added with a big smile, “If she would ever get smart with me, I might just walk away.”
Leonard and Lois moved to Alexandria in 1984 from Wheaton, where they farmed for about 30 years. After the couple was married, Lois didn’t work outside the home. She raised their family.
Neither have had many medical issues, said Leonard, which he attributes to staying busy and working hard.
Lois said Leonard never gets too excited about things and that she still loves his smile. She also said he likes to talk and visit with people, much more than she does.
Leonard said his wife is a true cook and that she loves to bake and cook – and he loves her cooking. He called himself a meat and potato kind of guy.
Nowadays, the couple takes life day-by-day and they both still enjoy each other's company.
Although they are unsure what is in store for them, Lois knows one thing for sure.
“I hope there’s no more Hains in the paper for awhile,” she said.
Good people, good cause
Gayle Myhr lives at Grand Arbor and met Leonard after she moved in. While having breakfast one day, he came up to her and asked her what her name was. They started talking and quickly became friends.
She met Lois during afternoon coffee. Myhr enjoys her visits with the couple and said it’s fun to talk to them.
When she saw that their picture was in the newspaper’s Cutest Couple contest, Myhr went right down to the front desk and talked with Jane Murphy, and the two of them set out to collect donations to buy votes for Lois and Leonard. Myhr put out a jar and Murphy made posters.
When everything was set up, Myhr rushed back to her apartment to get some money to put in the jar as seed money. She didn’t want it to be empty. By the time she got back down to the front desk, she said the jar was already a third full.
“I just got so excited,” Myhr said. “It’s so great that everyone was contributing. We were hoping to get a hundred dollars.”
The community of Grand Arbor hit that mark and then some. Residents and staff ended up donating $544, which equated to 2,176 votes.
“It really showed me the support of the families and the staff. It shows the type of community we have here,” said Myhr. “And it was for such a great cause.”
Devoted, top-notch parents
Ken Hains, 72, of St. Louis Park, said his parents have always been very devoted to their two children, but also have been devoted to their parents, brothers, sisters and all of their relatives. They remain very interested in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and will often ask, “Are they having fun?”
His parents have always been good friends to all.
Ron Hains, 74, of Shoreview, agreed with his brother and said, “My parents are top-notch at valuing and enjoying their friends. I think that is the best comment I can make about my parents in their 75 years together, and I have been there for most of them.”
At their house, the door was always open to friends and neighbors.
“As kids, we always found friends and neighbors at the kitchen table with coffee and cookies, or donuts or cake or a full breakfast,” said Ron. “That same thing has continued through their retirement years at Lake Geneva and at Grand Arbor.”
Over the years, the brothers have come to recognize the numerous friends, neighbors, board members, wandering wayfarers and relatives as valued extended members of their family.
Ken said that no one is a stranger to their dad. He loves to visit. Their mother is quieter, although a friend told Ken that their mother is quietly determined in everything she does.
Growing up in the Haines household, every meal was home-cooked, the house was always sparkling clean and even the sheets were ironed.
Ron said that growing up on an old-fashioned farm, the brothers appreciated all of the work and support it took from both of their parents to help them grow up and get an education.
Lois and Leonard’s grandchildren, Alex and Kristen, commented about all the activities their grandparents drove hours to watch, along with the fun and food they were offered and provided with on every visit.
Sports and games with their grandparents were a part of the fun. The grandchildren also said how good-natured their grandparents are and how appreciated they have always felt.
Ken said Alex loves the fact that his grandpa’s solution to fixing things was to use a bit more force and that his grandma was excellent at rolling her eyes and cleaning up after whatever needed fixing was “fixed” by grandpa.
“I don’t remember an angry word between them, neither had a lazy streak, each worked hard without complaint, helped others and have been, as a friend said, ‘cute inside and out,’ ” said Ken. “Both our parents have always had a positive attitude whatever the circumstances.”