Vern and Gay Borth are still so in love with one another and with life after 50 years of marriage.
For Vern and Gay Borth, life always got in the way of a honeymoon, or any vacation for that matter.
After meeting at Bible college in South Carolina, the pair were married in 1965 and drove straight from Illinois, where Gay is from, to Colorado to start their lives together.
Together the couple have endured cancer (lymphoma for her, colon cancer for him). They’ve raised four biological children and taken in 24 foster kids. One little girl came for two weeks and stayed for 10 years.
“I had kids in diapers from early 1967 until about 1982. That’s a lot of diapers. It has always been about the kids,” Gay told me recently over the phone. “We have never, ever been the center of attention.”
For 16 years the couple distributed copies of the Rocky Mountain News together — a 24/7, 365-day-a-year job that offered little sleep, much less time to be alone.
This year they celebrated almost 50 years of marriage with a surprise vacation — their very first as a couple.
The pair have their daughter Jenelle to thank. Jenelle is mentally disabled and still lives at home, but she knew that her parents needed to get away after her mom finished two years of chemotherapy. She also knew they would give away any bit of extra money that came their way to charity. So Jenelle started entering contests where the prize was a trip. Lo and behold, earlier this year Gay got a call from the television show Live With Kelly and Michael.
“They wanted to know who the guest on the show, Josh Duhamel, admired,” Gay recalled. “I didn’t know who Josh Duhamel was, but I had heard him say something about Clint Eastwood and that stuck in my brain because when I was a kid I thought Clint Eastwood was nice to look at.”
With that answer, Gay won the couple a trip to the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah.
And so this summer the septuagenarian couple took off on a plane for their romantic honeymoon.
The resort upgraded them to a special deluxe villa room. Vern and Gay both cried tears of joy when they walked in and saw the space. The resort also arranged for a professional photographer to come do a photo session with them for their 50th wedding anniversary in Snow Canyon.
"You know what's so great about these pictures? My husband never smiles, and he was so happy on this trip that it made him smile the whole time," Gay said.
As Gay, 70 years old, likes to put it, Vern at age 78 is “at the long end of his 70s” and likes to take things slow.
“He’s shy and not inclined to try new things,” Gay said. “He also hates the water.” But a day into the trip, Gay managed to coax Vern into the pool.
The view of Red Mountain from above.
“He walked around along the side and his knees felt better. They always hurt,” Gay said. “Vern also had his first pedicure ever. He was brave and we tried the different yoga classes.”
The pair took healthy cooking classes, and they sat underneath the red mountains and stared up at the sky, truly alone for the first time in 50 years.
“We loved listening to the birds. We would sit on our patio and enjoy the hummingbirds,” Gay said. “They drove us out into the canyon and oh my, it was gorgeous out there.”
It truly felt like a honeymoon.
“We could eat slowly. We weren’t in a hurry to go anywhere and we could just talk and listen to each other.”
But it was the staff at Red Mountain that made the entire experience so memorable for Vern and Gay.
“They were so nice,” Gay said. “The last day we were in the restaurant, they ran over to hug us. They made us feel like celebrities, and we are used to being invisible.”