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Kenneth Sumner can’t help it — any time he meets someone new, he must tell them how he met his wife of 44 years, Jacqueline Sumner.

“I was walking down the street behind her and her two classmates. She had this long hair,” the father of two told “Good Morning America’s” “The One.” “And I was walking behind them and my heart was going like this [thumps chest].”

Kenneth Sumner, who’s now retired and in his 60s, continued, “So I said, ‘Miss?’ She turned around, smiled at me and that was that.”

“I don’t particularly remember it like that,” Jacqueline Sumner said with a smile. “In the beginning, we clicked like almost soulmates, like we should have been together.”

After meeting as teenagers, the Sumners’ love has survived more than four decades of life as they’ve raised two children and built a home on shared values. They’ve also endured loss.

Unfortunately, my father got very ill my senior year [of high school],” Jacqueline Sumner, who’s also in her 60s, said.

After the death of William Robinson, the Plainfield, New Jersey, mother of two said she had to “take over things that he used to do” and run her mother’s household since her mother didn’t drive.

“When something like that happens, it makes you just appreciate each day,” Jacqueline Sumner added. “Life’s too short.”

The Sumners, who celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary on Jan. 26, said they’ve learned a lot about what sustains a lasting marriage — patience, compromise and selflessness.

Kenneth Sumner added with a laugh, “And no matter how bad the restaurant is, I go.”

Growing more serious, he added, “If it wasn’t for her, I don’t know, I’d probably be dead somewhere.”



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