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Kentucky pair recognized as world's oldest couple

Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2002

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- A couple who said ''I do'' 83 years ago have been officially recognized as the world's oldest living married couple.

William and Claudia Lillian Ritchie, who got married April 12, 1919 in Jeffersonville, Ind., received a certificate from Guinness World Records on Aug. 28.

''I wanted to take care of her, that was the biggest part of it,'' Bill Ritchie said.

The Ritchies raised four children, two of whom have died. They have nine grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren.

While Lil Ritchie's memory is faltering and Bill Ritchie has difficulty hearing, both were made aware of the record, said daughter Jewell Wagoner, 75.

Wagoner and her sister Helen Pennington, 77, said it has become difficult to care for their parents and decided last week to place them in a nursing home.

Lil, 98, moved in Aug. 29. Bill, 104, had refused to go but asked to join his wife a few days later.

''They had never been separated before in 83 years of marriage,'' Wagoner said.

Wagoner began trying to obtain the record recognition from Guinness after an article about her parent's anniversary appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

''Someone said they might even be the oldest couple,'' she said.

The Ritchies received 579 cards congratulating them on their anniversary this year.



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