Seventy Years and Still Counting

Fairplay native Darrell McGahhey (right), has a few memories of when he was a bachelor. Those days were in Fairplay when the gold mines were open and his father, Donnie Mac cut the miner’s hair in a barber shop in the Hand Hotel. Married life for McGahhey began a mere 70 years ago. One friend, an anonymous whistleblower, wonders if the marriage will last. Meanwhile, Betty McGahhey (left), smiles as she holds her dog, Joy, and Darrell cracks a joke behind her. The couple’s official 70th wedding anniversary is Oct. 26, 2019. (Photo courtesy of Danny Iversen)

Fairplay resident, Darrell McGahhey, celebrates seven decades of marriage, to the same woman, the lovely Betty McGahhey (aka McManis), this Oct. 26.

Darrell McGahhey, an only child, lived in Fairplay with his parents in the 1930s. His father was a barber who cut the gold miners’ hair in his shop in the Hand Hotel. The family lived behind the barber shop and later moved to Denver where McGahhey met his future wife at the age of 19.

McGahhey remembers one particularly huge snowstorm in Fairplay.

“I remember the big snowstorm of 1937 when many people had to climb out their second story windows just to get out of the house. We also had to extend the wooden light posts with 12 foot extensions.”

Betty McGahhey  was one of 12 children and raised on a farm. Later she moved to Denver with her family and met her future husband at a Youth for Christ event.

Darrell joined Betty’s church and shortly thereafter married her at First Westwood Church in Denver. Betty was 16 years old and continued high school after her wedding.

Be fruitful and multiply

The McGahheys have taken this verse from the Old Testament Bible to heart. They have populated the earth with five children, 13 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.

In addition to these biological children, the couple counts hundreds of children in their family fold, as together they worked with church youth groups, including in the inner city in Denver.

They unofficially adopted many of these children, many of whom are still in touch with the couple.

How to stay married 70 years

Betty McGahhey says, “Do everything together” and she quotes the Bible, Ephesians 6:32, “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”

She adds that one trait she admires about her husband is, “He is stubborn. He keeps on keeping on, never giving up.”

Darrell attributes marital success to the following philosophy: “She is always right.”

He adds, “We always try to keep Jesus at the center of our marriage.”

He also admires his wife’s strong faith.

Marriage by the numbers

According to the website, a couple who has been married for 70 years will have “taken a combined 1,042,230,000 breaths (approximately) and had about 5,360,040,000 heartbeats together.”

The calculator also shares these statistics for those married 70 years:

“You will have spent about 51.9 years sleeping, 82.8 months eating and drinking, eaten about 141.4 tons of food, you two have laughed around 516,979 times.”

Many friends and family members of the McGahheys would probably double the last statistic of laughter as they are known to crack jokes all day long (some funny and some not, but they laugh all the same.)

Darrell worked for a public service company in Denver and in retirement the couple moved to a high mesa outside of Montrose where Darrell built their home. Darrell is the kind of multi-talented husband who can build a home, fix an engine, upholster furniture, and tenderly care for his wife, all with a twinkle in his eye and always ready with a quick-witted comment.

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