ODENTON, Md. (WJLA) — Valentine’s Day will be just like any other day for Ronald and Yoshiko Roache – aside from the candy.
“We’ll just celebrate with each other,” Ronald said, patting his wife’s hand and smiling. "Our sons brought us some candy."
The couple is having a low-key celebration at Arbor Terrace Waugh Chapel in Odenton. Their 64 years of marriage has had enough excitement to last a lifetime.
The two met while Ronald was stationed in Japan during his time in the Air Force; first at a dojo run by Yoshiko’s uncle, then in a shopping center. After talking on the phone and going to movies, Ronald met her family, who accepted the D.C. native immediately.
“She told her family she met a nice gentlemen from the States. Her mother welcomed me into their home,” Ronald said.
When it was time for him to return to Louisiana, Ronald said they didn’t want their time to end.
“We got really close to each other until I got ready to leave,” he said. “Before I had to leave, we decided to try and get married.”
That plan didn’t work; Ronald couldn’t get approval from his commanding officer for the marriage, so he went back to Louisiana alone. They kept in touch, writing to each other and making international calls. Ronald requested a transfer to Massachusetts, got a passport, and went to Japan again.
He stayed on a Visa and had to leave after 21 days. This time, he left a married man. The two wed inside the American Embassy in May 1956.
Yoshiko didn’t tell her family about the marriage until she revealed she was moving to the United States at age 20.
“She gave up her family, she gave up her religion – she was Buddhist; she became Catholic, she gave up her country. She became an American citizen for the man she loves,” Ronald said.
She spent 16 days on a ship, then took a plane to meet him and start their lives together. They embarked on married life during segregated times. Ronald told ABC7 Yoshiko wouldn’t go to restaurants that didn’t allow Black people. She wouldn’t go anywhere he couldn’t go.
These were sacrifices she didn’t have to make.
And now, Ronald said it’s his turn to take care of her.
“She can’t find sometimes the words to say,” he said. “Before, she could say everything.”
After a fall last year, Yoshiko is mostly non-verbal, but she is still that 20-year-old Ronald fell in love with. As Ronald described her role as keeping bills in line, Yoshiko said the only words she uttered during the interview: “Well, someone had to.”
The Air Force veteran looks back on their whirlwind relationship and sees a woman who worked hard and raised their two children.
“Her father said, ‘Marriage is a business, part love and part business,’” Ronald said. “You can’t go into the store and say, ‘I love my husband, now give me groceries.’”
Ronald said what they have worked because of a major factor: compromise. Being there for each other goes a long way, even when one side is there a bit more than the other.
“Some people say marriage is a 50/50 proposition, it’s not 50/50. Someone is going to give more and make it 51/49.”
And in their case, Ronald says it was 20/80 – in Yoshiko’s favor.