What started at a square dance at Ohio State in 1954, continues today: Still Buckeye fans. Socializing when they can. Spending time together. And dancing…or at least watching it on TV.

When they met, she was Elcena Zerkle, a physical therapy major, from St. Paris, OH. He was Burl Barnes, a farmer’s son from Paulding, OH, majoring in ag and animal husbandry. This storyteller thinks it was love at first site…and it still is six-and-a-half decades later.

They were married on a very hot July 21 in St. Paris at the First Baptist Church. Her parents were Byford and Lottie Zerkle…his were Burl Barnes Sr, the late Faye and stepmother Sybilla. After a honeymoon in the Poconos, Burl and Ellie settled in Paulding at the Barnes homestead until he was drafted into the Army that took them to Georgia and then Germany. They returned to Paulding in 1959 where he farmed the land originally farmed by four generations before him.

In the late 60s, he got out of farming and began working for the Ohio Farm Bureau and continued there for 31 years. After four children, Lesta (Paul) Searles, Laurie Barnes, Scott (Chrissy) Barnes and Amy Barnes were born, Ellie returned to college and earned a bachelor’s degree in education and later a master’s in gifted education. She worked at Paulding Exempted Village Schools for 30 years, first as the seventh-grade science teacher, and then as the gifted coordinator.

After they both retired, Burl and Ellie served as church leaders, active Buckeye alumni and sports fans, and avid travelers. Among their favorite places to visit were Sedona, AZ, Albuquerque, NM, scenic Michigan spots, New England and a tour through Europe which included a visit to Germany where they were stationed in the Army.

As grandparents, they are top notch and spend as much time as they can with four granddaughters, Adrienne Searles, the late Kayla Spiker, Alex and Mia Barnes; a grandson, Emmet Barnes; and a great-granddaughter, Kayla Castillo.

Throughout their lives and today, Burl and Ellie have always made things…paintings, Santas, stone and wire jewelry, greeting cards, and Buckeye jewelry. They have also always grown things. Their yard on Buckeye Drive (see the theme?) is one of the most beautiful ones in town! And they always have an open door and a hot cup of coffee for visitors.

Burl and Ellie will be celebrating their 65th anniversary until they can celebrate their 66th. When you see them uptown or on Facebook, say hi and wish them a very happy anniversary.