50 years later, Kratchens get the wedding they never had

Published 8:45 pm Friday, October 14, 2022

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By Greg Goldfarb
Contributing writer

Still writing a love story that began 50 years ago, Scottie and Kay Kratchen just celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a ceremony and party at Oakland Christian United Church of Christ in eastern Suffolk.

Attended by about 100 family members and friends, the ceremony was so special because it made up for the one the couple didn’t have when they first exchanged vows in 1972.

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“Oakland Christian was a beautiful church and we really loved the stained glass windows,” said Scottie, looking back joyfully on the emotionally-stirring event. “It was a great historical venue and perfect for the occasion. The church was very accommodating and my family really enjoyed working with them.”

Married in a North Carolina courthouse on Sept. 2, 1972, Scottie and Kay knew each other for six months, dating for just four of those months, before deciding to tie the knot. They met each other through family members, most of them from Virginia and missed the couple’s first, low key nuptial.

Fast forward to 2021, when one of the couple’s 26 grandchildren, Maddie Ilapit, got married and realized that it was about time for her grandparents to finally have a nice, modern day, wedding ceremony and party to celebrate their five decades of marital bliss.

The day was set, Aug. 22.

Ilapit, a Suffolk resident, said thinking back over her loving grandparents’ busy lives, there’s no doubt they really deserved the once-in-a-lifetime occasion when the date arrived.

Born in Goldsboro, N.C., Scottie’s father worked in the insurance business, as the family traveled back and forth from Virginia to Florida, while she was growing up, before graduating in 1972 from Walnut Ridge High School, Columbus, Ohio. Born in Elyria, Ohio, Kay is a 1964 Elyria High School graduate.

In high school, Scottie worked at a local snack counter at a Roses department in Churchland and for the Leukemia Society after the family moved to Columbus, Ohio. Kay worked at a gas station in Ohio while in high school.

After high school, Kay enlisted in the Navy Seabees and in 1965 served in Vietnam before being honorably discharged in 1969 and moving to Nebraska to perform farm work.

Following their marriage, Scottie was a stay-at-home mom for years, until enrolling at Louise Obici School of Nursing and graduating at age 40. She worked as a nurse there, before becoming a home health nurse, and now works as a registered nurse for the Chesapeake Health Department. Kay worked for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a diesel mechanic for 33 years, until he retired in 2014.

The Kratchens are 40-year residents of Western Branch, which is where they raised their nine children, and they have many other family members spread throughout Suffolk. In their spare time, Scottie enjoys reading, genealogy, estate sale shopping and mostly spending time with her family; Kay loves woodworking.

Looking ahead to the future, the couple plans to appreciate life more than ever, take more weekend trips and better appreciate the love and devotion that has gone into their many years of marriage.

“We have nine children, 26 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren,” said Scottie. “We are very blessed and enjoy spending time with them. We do family dinners every other Sunday, between our house and one of our daughters’ house, who lives in Smithfield. Some days it’s everyone there; some days we are missing a few, but we love having our Sunday dinners with the family.”

While the Kratchens are not licensed marriage counselors or personal relationship advisors, based on their many of being in a successful marriage, they are happy to offer some tips and advice to help couples stay on a happy, healthy journey of love and life:

  • Is it true that you need to love yourself before you can fully love another person: “I guess in some ways, yes,” said Kay, while Scottie says, “No, because I think I loved him before I loved myself. I was young and still learning. I liked myself, but didn’t fully know myself at that point.  I developed self-love by the way he treated me and the respect he showed me.”
  • Is falling in love about finding your missing piece: “I would say more so it’s finding your better half,” said Scottie. “The one that makes you want to be a better person.”
  • Does it really take hard work to fall in love and stay in love: “Falling in love is the easy part,” said Scottie. “Staying in love takes work. Respect goes a long way. You have to respect one another and continue to work at it every day.”
  • Does falling in love really feel like you’ve found your best friend:“Yes, Scottie is and always has been mine,” said Kay. “Like I have said before, there is a Don Williams song that goes, ‘You’re my bread when I’m hungry. You’re my shelter from a troubled wind. You’re my anchor in life’s ocean, but most of all you’re my best friend.” Scottie adds, “Kay is my best friend. I can talk to him about anything. He has always been my number one supporter. He knows me better than anyone.”
  • Is it true that in a successful marriage, the two people genuinely need to respect and admire each other: “Yes,” said Scottie. “Respect goes a long way. Respect, love and admiration all go together. Without one you don’t have the others.”
  • Do successful couples really need shared interests and hobbies, in addition to love, for the relationship to work: “I guess those things help but our faith in Christ has been a big part of our marriage,” said Scottie. “With Christ at the center of our marriage , it was helpful in raising our nine children. Our kids were the biggest part of our lives and are our biggest shared interest. Now that they are grown with kids, they still are. We love spending time together.”
  • How does a person know if they’re emotionally ready for a serious relationship: “You don’t,” said Kay. “Sometimes you just have to have faith and jump in.”
  • What are the signs of being in love: “You enjoy being around the person; you think about them when you’re apart; you want to be a better person because of them,” said Kay.
  • Is “love at first sight” something that is real: “Yes,” said Kay. “It was love at first sight when I met Scottie.” Scottie adds, “I do believe love at first sight is real. I was a young and a little more cautious and didn’t jump right in. Once I did though I was fully committed.”
  • What does it feel like to fall in love: “It feels like the best thing ever; It’s a safe space, always,” said Scottie.
  • How long does it take to fall in love: “You can’t give it a time frame,” said Kay. “For me it was love at first sight. For Scottie it may have been a bit different, but we married after dating for just a few months. So it clearly didn’t take too long.”
  • General advice for people in relationships: “Respect, love and compromise,” said Scottie. “Never use harsh words towards one another; say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you.’ Engage your brain before your mouth. Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Never try to hurt one with words. Always, use kind words.”

Members of Scottie and Kay’s family living in Suffolk include, Madison Ilapit and Marcus Robinson, who live off of Shoulders Hill Road near Route 17; Carrington Hensley, Scottie’s stepfather, who walked Scottie down the aisle and is a Respass Beach resident; and Ashley Myers, Scottie’s niece, lives near Carrollton.