- The Washington Times - Monday, February 2, 2004

ST. LOUIS (AP) — During 82 years of marriage, George and Amelia Limpert seldom were apart.

As centenarians with grandchildren who themselves are grandparents, they held hands. Folks who marveled at the Limperts got the same response from George: Amelia always was the prettiest gal he’d ever seen.

Since Mr. Limpert died last month of complications from pneumonia at age 102, Mrs. Limpert, 100, has been heartbroken, daughter Mary Ruth Fink says.

“She isn’t taking it well, not at all,” Mrs. Fink, 69, said Sunday as her mother rested at Little Sisters of the Poor retirement center.

It’s a love story dating to 1919, when Mr. Limpert was a machinist in his hometown of St. Louis at a plant that made paint spray guns and lamp guards. Amelia Kwiatkowski was a teenager from Pennsylvania working on the assembly line.

Mr. Limpert knew — or at least hoped — that she would be his wife, although her family had other ideas from the get-go.

Traditionalists in post-World War I America, her immigrant parents didn’t want their Polish daughter marrying George the German, saying he wasn’t “from the old country,” Mrs. Fink says.

Three times, their engagement was broken off before they finally jumped into his Model T and eloped Sept. 9, 1921, spending $8 on a marriage certificate and a civil ceremony with a justice of the peace in nearby Clayton.

A month later, the devout Catholics had a formal marriage ceremony. He was 20 and she was an 18-year-old woman who had only a third-grade education but had taught herself to read and write.

During the Great Depression, the Limperts struggled. Mr. Limpert, out of work most of the time, took odd jobs making parts for old cars, painting houses and fixing faulty plumbing.

The couple raised nine children in a one-bedroom home where the five girls and four boys slept in an attic of “wall-to-wall beds,” Mrs. Fink says.

All the while, the Limperts never stopped doting on a brood that has blossomed over the years. There are seven surviving sons and daughters, along with 39 grandchildren, 117 great-grandchildren, 45 great-great-grandchildren and eight great-great-great-grandchildren.

Nearly blind, Mrs. Limpert now fights pneumonia herself. Without her beloved George, Mrs. Fink fears, her mother is losing the strength to go on.

“She’s not crying or carrying on. She’s just sad and feels like she’s dying. She says that when Dad left, it felt like it left a hole.”

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