When this couple says that lots of laughter has been a big part of their successful 60-year marriage, they aren’t joking.

At a family gathering Sunday in Nevada, where Paul and Marilyn Hunter were joined by their children, their children’s children and even a few good friends, it was one laugh after another much of the time.

But seriously, 60 years of marriage is no laughing matter, even when laughter is a huge part of getting through the day-to-day joys and challenges that a union this long produces. Sixty years of marriage is a milestone, and an event to cherish.

“We’re no different than a lot of people our age,” Marilyn insisted. She said many of her and her husband’s friends have been married 50-plus years too. “We committed to marriage,” she said. “And many of us married pretty young (at least by today’s standards).”

Marilyn, 21, in 1957, and Paul, just turned 25, were married in Columbia, Mo., where they met at the University of Missouri as students. Marilyn was originally from Columbia; Paul was from the Missouri town of Poplar Bluffs, in the southeastern part of the state.

They were set up in May of 1957 by good friends. Marilyn was student-teaching with the wife of one of Paul’s good friends, and “they thought we should meet,” she said. So they went on a double date to see the movie, “The Spirit of St. Louis.”

“We dated about three times,” Paul said, before they both left for summer jobs. They got back to school in September, picked up right where they left off and in no time at all, they became engaged in October and married in December of that same year.

Marriage, according to Paul, “was a mutual decision. We both kind of were wanting the same things in life, and we had the same values and expectations.” Marilyn agreed, saying that she just knew he was the one. “He was kind. I liked his family and I loved his laugh.” Plus, she said, it made sense, because Paul, who had served in the Korean Conflict and was going to school on the GI Bill, could get $25 more a month if he was married. Laughter filled the room again, as Marilyn confirmed, “He married me for my money.”

Before moving to Nevada 17-and-a-half years ago, the Hunters had spent 37 years of their life in Tama/Toledo, where Marilyn taught in the elementary school for 25 years and Paul was part owner of Twin Cities Insurance and Real Estate.

Their actual wedding anniversary is Dec. 21, but the couple was pleased to gather early and see most all of their family, which includes their two daughters, Brenda Hobson of Nevada and Carrie Hamburg of Raymore, Mo. Unable to attend was their son, David, who is presently in Germany.

On Sunday, the family rented the Nevada Senior Center, where they had room to make a meal together, eat together, visit, laugh a lot and play cards — a much-loved activity in this family, where Grandma Marilyn taught the grandkids to play 500.

Life’s been good to the Hunters.

Paul, in fact, can’t think of too many major challenges they’ve had over the years. “We always made do with what we had,” he said.

Marilyn said involvement in church and community have always been important to both of them, and a strong marriage, she said, can be partially credited to their parents. “I would give our parents a lot of credit; they were very supportive. And, we’ve had good kids; they were really easy to raise.”

Marilyn’s advice to younger couples would be as follows: “Forgiveness and communication. If there’s a problem, talk about it and don’t tell everyone else first.” And for gosh sakes, laugh; laugh a lot!