Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce, but don’t tell that to Irving and Ethel Knowles.

The couple is celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary today.

Irving said the two met in 1938 when Ethel attended a country dance where he was playing in the band. They started dating right away, courted for about a year and a half and were married on June 27, 1940, in Falmouth.

Irving is 90 now, and Ethel is 89.

Irving was stationed in Europe during World War II and worked for S.D. Warren Co. for 37 years.

Ethel stayed at home with their two children, Judy and Irving. The Knowleses have four grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

After Irving’s retirement, the Knowleses spent their time traveling and enjoying their growing family.

They still live in the house in Westbrook that they built before their wedding.

Their daughter, Judy Violette, remembers a happy childhood with lots of family time growing up, including camping trips.

“It’s kind of nice to grow up in a home with always the same parents,” she said. “And I didn’t have to be brought up in a split home — it must be very hard for young people today.”

Violette said her parents have been active in the lives of their offspring, who are in awe of the couple’s longevity.

“To live to the age of 70 is a pretty good feat,” said Mark Violette of Scarborough, the couple’s grandson, “but to have been married 70 years, that’s quite an accomplishment.”

The family is celebrating with a surprise party at Judy Violette’s house in Buxton today.

The secret to making the marriage work is simple, Irving said: “I give her a kiss once in a while.”

Staff Writer Stephanie Hardiman can be contacted at 791-6301 or at: [email protected]