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OLDEST MARRIED COUPLE
Associated Press William and Claudia Ritchie shown at their home in Paris, Ky., in this April 1, 2002 file photo, have been married 83 years. Their 83rd anniversary was on April 12, 2002. William is 104 and his bride is 97 years-old. The couple have been officially recognized as the oldest living married couple in the world by Guinness World Records.

Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A couple who said "I do" 83 years ago have been officially recognized as the world's oldest living married couple.

William and Claudia Lillian Ritchie, who got married on April 12, 1919, in Jeffersonville, Ind., received a certificate from Guinness World Records on Tuesday.

"I wanted to take care of her, that was the biggest part of it," Bill Ritchie said.

The Ritchies raised four children, two of whom have died. They have nine grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great-grandchildren.

While Lil Ritchie's memory is faltering and Bill Ritchie has difficulty hearing, both were made aware of the record, said daughter Jewell Wagoner, 75.

Wagoner and her sister Helen Pennington, 77, said it has become difficult to care for their parents and decided last week to place them in a nursing home.

Lil Ritchie, 98, moved in Thursday. Bill Ritchie, 104, had refused to go but asked to join his wife a few days later.

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"They had never been separated before in 83 years of marriage," Wagoner said.

Wagoner began trying to obtain the record recognition from Guinness after an article about her parent's anniversary appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

"Someone said they might even be the oldest couple," she said.

The Ritchies received 579 cards congratulating them on their anniversary this year.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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