The wedding was planned in 15 days, the marriage has lasted 70 years, and 39 of those years have been spent in Pleasanton. The love story of Earl and Ileana Mincks is inspiring, not simply because of its longevity, but because, as they and their family attest, of its happiness.
In 1943, in Phoenix, Arizona, 16-year-old Earl Mincks decided to ask the girl he’d been eyeing in church, Ileana Parker, to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They began dating, and by the time the Junior/Senior Ball rolled around, Ileana had an engagement ring on her finger.
“The attitude then,” she said, “was ‘live for today’ because no one knew what was going to happen tomorrow.” Many of their classmates were drafted into the service before finishing high school. Earl, a distinguished cadet and colonel of his school’s ROTC program, joined the Army reserves. He was able to get his degree, but after basic training he deployed to Italy with the 3rd Infantry Division in 1944 as part of Patton’s army.
“It was difficult,” said Ileana. “We had no idea when he was coming back.” When Earl did return on a 30-day pass, they wanted to get married immediately. Although their parents were apprehensive (Earl was still 18 and needed a permission note from his mother), Ileana recalls her mother in-law saying, “if the government thinks he’s old enough to fight, then he’s old enough to know if he should get married.”
Their minister shared the advice that although a man may think he knows his bride, she’ll change many times over the years. Earl disagrees. “Ileana was a marvelous woman when I fell in love with her, and she still is marvelous. … I fall in love with her every day.”
The Mincks tried to pay the $5 wedding charge, but the minister insisted they keep it. And they still have that bill.
The Mincks moved to Pleasanton in 1976, where Earl managed and owned several tire businesses; he also invented a protective tire shield called the Tire Guard. Ileana said their move here was like “this little town opened its arms and hugged me.” Their Kottinger Drive home bordered cattle ranches, and they would watch the cows from their upstairs window. With two children, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren, their home has always had an open door for family members moving in and out. “It was and is where all important family celebrations take place and a place where anyone is welcome,” said daughter Cheri Puls.
What is the Minck’s secret for a happy marriage? “It hasn’t all been easy,” Earl said, “but we went through the rough times because we loved each other.” Their anchors have been their faith in God and their devotion to each other.”I wish I had something profound to say,” said Ileana, “but I’m just a woman who has loved her husband for 70 years.” Perhaps those are the best kind of love stories.
Contact Amy Moellering at email@example.com.