John Denlinger likes to say that he and his wife, Mary, were born for each other.
They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary on Sept. 1, but their story started in 1941 at Lancaster General Hospital, where they were born one day apart.
The couple met in the spring of their freshman year at Hempfield High School at a Youth for Christ meeting.
Since Mary wasn't allowed to go on dates alone until she was 16, their first date was a roller skating party with friends. They sang in the school choir together and went to sporting events, played miniature golf and went bowling.
"And we've been together ever since," said John Denlinger, 70, of Spring Garden Township.
Although they knew each other's birthdays, it was a few years before they realized they had been born a day apart at the very same hospital.
"Her mother cut out the birth announcement and a couple names above and below Mary, and she showed that to us and that's when we knew officially," John said.
Mary was born on Dec. 28; John on Dec. 29. They married in 1962 and moved to North Carolina, where John majored in religion and philosophy at Catawba College.
Their first son, Mark, arrived on Aug. 27, 1963, followed by their daughter Pam the following year on her father's birthday.
"It seems like God had a plan in mind," said John, referring to a list of other eerily similar dates in their lives.
Mary's mother was born one day before her father, and both John and Mary had younger brothers who were born seven days apart in 1945. And Mary was born two weeks before her parents' first anniversary -- much like the Denlingers' son Mark, who was born just four days before their first anniversary.
The couple had two more children, Todd, 41, and Beth, 40, after John finished his undergraduate studies and the couple returned to Pennsylvania, where he attended Lancaster Theological Seminary.
They settled in York in 1986 for John to be a pastor at Emmanuel United Church of Christ in York City for 10 years, followed by Asbury
United Methodist Church and more than six years at St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Shrewsbury.
Mary worked as a postal clerk.
Now that they have both retired, they still enjoy singing in the choir at church together, John says.
John credits the couple's intention to take their marriage vows seriously as the secret to staying happily together for so many years.
"Make sure you love the one that you're with and don't get caught in anything else," John said.
Their four children and three grandchildren hosted a 50th anniversary party for them on July 27 at Meadow Hill Restaurant with about 35 family members.
The original wedding album of photographs was on display, along with a cake decorated with two babies holding hands in cribs, a celebration of not only a marriage but a lifetime together.
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com