Love on display

Verna Neujahr saved many Valentine's Day gifts from her husband


Verna Neujahr, 89, is keeping her husband’s loving spirit alive this Valentine’s Day.

She proudly displays more than a dozen of the Valentine’s Day gifts he gave her over their 69 years of marriage in the hallway outside her room at Kinship Point. 

“We had a very loving relationship, and I’d like to see more families have that same relationship that I got to have,” Verna said. 

Verna and Glen “Glendale” Neujahr met around 1950 when she was attending Seward High School. She and her friends loved to go roller skating at the old roller rink at the Seward park. They would walk to the rink from uptown and would find a ride back home from a boy they would meet there. That is how she met her husband. 

They married in 1952 and had four kids: Rod, Diane, Donna and Kevin.

Diane Dey said Verna and Glen were the best parents she could have wanted. 

“They were good about getting us going to church and Sunday school and all that kind of stuff,” she said. “We were lucky to grow up in a very loving and caring family.”

Verna said the first time Glen gave her a valentine it went a bit sour. He got her a box of heart-shaped chocolates before stopping at the grocery store to pick up some milk. When he returned to the car, the box was in pieces and their children had chocolate all over their faces.

“He was so disappointed he could’ve cried because he wanted me to have that box of candy so bad,” she said. “But, I think out of all the valentines, I cherish that one the most.”

Verna said she began preserving some of her valentines when their kids got older, and the gifts started meaning more to her. She put them in a spot where they would not get destroyed, discolored or wet.

Most of the valentines Glen gave her were boxes of chocolates, and the majority of the ones on display are from around the 1970s. About 20 valentines are laid out on a table with a tablecloth in the hallway by her room.

Dey said one of the boxes in particular looks a bit worn, likely because she and her siblings got ahold of it.

“(The chocolate boxes) go back to when they had the flowers on them and all the big ribbons on them. Some of them, like one that is really in shape yet, have a little porcelain doll,” she said.

Verna said the residents and staff members at Kinship Point have enjoyed stopping by and admiring her collection. 

“They think it's marvelous,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of compliments.”

Verna said looking at the valentines brings back memories of her husband and how determined he was to always give her something for the holiday.

“There were times when it was rough because we had some hard times farming, but he always managed to find a little valentine of some kind,” she said.

Glen died in December 2020, and Verna moved to Kinship Point last October. The couple had lived in and around Gresham before moving to Utica in 2003. 

Verna said she is grateful for all the time they had together.

“We were there for each other, and we did things together and did things as a family,” she said. “He was a very caring, loving person, and I was lucky I fell in love with him and married him.”