GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- They say home is where the heart is, but a local couple says the secret to a long-lasting marriage is thousands of miles away.
91-year-old Rudy Cooper and his wife Emily have been married 67 years, saying their love has survived World War II and traveled all over the world. They're sharing their story and a few tips just before Valentine's Day.
Rudy remembers it starting with just one question.
"I asked, 'Could we take a walk around the lake?' and she said, 'Yeah, that would be nice.' And that's how it started," Rudy said.
The Coopers married in West Michigan back in 1949 but they credit their travels with keeping their love strong and alive.
"We had a little bit of a distance romance here," said Emily.
Looking back on their life from their now home at the Clark Retirement Community in Grand Rapids, the couple is quick to tell you that love is not in a box of chocolates, rather in a suitcase packed to see the world with the one you love.
"It was very easy in those days to hitchhike as long as you had a suitcase with Michigan State gear on it," Emily said.
From thumbing rides to backpacking the mountains of Machu Picchu, 56 thumb tacks on a map in their home mark their journey around the world as a couple. Now left with volumes of photographs and t-shirts from their travels; the Coopers are reminding West Michigan this Valentine's Day is more than just a Hallmark card, saying it's about spending time and sharing this life with the ones you love.
"You want to pick a mate to be with that has the same values," Emily said. "If something is really important to you, you should feel the same on that."
The Coopers quit traveling a few years back, now left with only the ticket stubs from their trips. Emily says the memories her husband gave her are the best give she could get for Valentine's Day.