SOMERTON – A lot of people don’t get to live to be 80, let alone spend 80 years with someone else.

Nicolasa and Rogelio Gonzalez of Somerton have.

Nicolasa, 95, and Rogelio, 98, earlier this month renewed the marital vows they made to one another in 1939.

Nicolasa was 15 when the couple got married in Mexico, and Rogelio was 18.

“We were very young,” Nicolasa said. “In that era a lot of people married like that. We got married first in a civil ceremony, in March, and by the church in June.”

Life at first was rough for the young couple in Jalpa, a rural community in Mexico’s west coast state of Jalisco, she recalled.

“It was not easy, there were a lot of hardships. We lived on 50 pesos a day that my husband earned.”

Six years into their marriage, the couple, now with children, moved to Tonaya, a community in central Jalisco, where Rogelio worked in a tannery belonging to his grandfather. 

“They paid him more there, and we were a little better off,” Nicolasa said. “Time passed and my husband came here to work, and I stayed behind with the children.”

Rogelio arrived in Yuma County in 1953 as a Bracero, one of thousands of Mexican workers allowed into the United States to fill labor shortages. In 1959, he brought his wife and children to San Luis Rio Colorado to live and years later the family emigrated to the United States. 

Rogelio, an agricultural laborer, worked in citrus groves and vegetable fields in the Yuma area, leaving only during to work one harvest season in California. Except for two seasons spent working in the fields, Nicolasa stayed a home raising their children.

The couple went on to have 10 children, 24 grandchildren, 28 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.

Nicolasa said a common desire to see their children thrive have helped strengthen her and her husband’s marriage.

“There are always difficulties, but my greatest satisfaction and (the source of my) strength were my children. We stayed together for them. We made a life for ourselves in Somerton, where we have been since the beginning. We never left here.”

Nicolasa said faith has been key to her the couple’s long lives and to the longevity of their marriage.

“God is who has done it all. We are tired, but at the same time we often give Him our thanks, because He has allowed us to live together through the many difficulties that there have been.”

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