105-year-old Cedar Rapids man preserves nearly a century of Valentine’s Day cards

A Cedar Rapids man has a personal archive that is preserving a lifetime of love.
Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 5:54 AM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Outside of 105-year-old Don Johnson’s apartment is a very special display: nearly a century worth of Valentine’s Day cards.

Don still has the first Valentine he gave to the girl who would become his wife. On February 14, 1931, when he was a high school sophomore, and she was a freshman, he slipped the card on her desk.

Don and Phyllis Johnson (her maiden name as well as her married name) were together for 10 years before they got married in 1941.

“I had a lot of competition all these years between—there were other boys in that high school that also were her friends,” Don joked. “Maybe that’s why it took us so long to get married.”

Don said he doesn’t really know why he’s held onto the cards for all these years.

“It’s something that Phyllis did,” he said. “I’ve always kind of admired her taste for things, and she would select things that I wouldn’t select. It seemed like her selections always endured longer than mine.”

Don told us Phyllis passed away in 2004. Their marriage lasted for more than six decades.

“One of the rudiments, I think, of a successful marriage is love in the first place.,” he said. “It has to be genuine, it has to be respectful, and it has to be honorable. You have to be aware that your spouse is entitled to her opinions as well as your own.”

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