Gary and Bonnie Hopper talk about how Gary proposed to Bonnie only 10 days after they met. Today they  celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Gary and Bonnie Hopper talk about how Gary proposed to Bonnie only 10 days after they met. Today they celebrate their 33rd wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day. (Staff photos by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Gary and Bonnie Hopper knew within 10 days of meeting each other that they had found "the one."

That was 33 years ago.

Gary, a Chelsea native, said the bar where they met was one of his favorite hangouts. They played country and rock 'n' roll music. He remembers seeing Bonnie from across the room.

"He saved me from these two guys in bib overalls that kept jumping in front of everybody and asking me to dance," Bonnie said.

The guys in the overalls weren't her type, but she and Gary wound up hitting it off.

They only dated for 10 days, then Gary popped the question.

He was leaving the house when he told Bonnie that he needed to ask her a question, but that he wasn't sure how.

"Just ask," Bonnie told him.

"When you find your soul mate, I guess you just know," Gary said.

Bonnie accepted Gary's proposal.

"I'm going to tell you the truth, it was love at first sight. For both of us," she said. "There was just something about him I liked."

The engagement was quick. They met in June and were married Feb. 14 - Valentine's Day.

"It just kind of worked out that way," Bonnie said.

Today - just like every Valentine's Day for the last 33 years - the couple is celebrating their anniversary as well as Valentine's Day.

Tonight the couple will celebrate the same way they do every year. Gifts and dinner.

"You still have to buy two gifts," Gary said ... and two cards.

The couple, now in their mid-60s, are both retired.

He worked for Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp., and she worked for Madison Precision Products.

Now that they're retired, they do "anything we want," Bonnie said. That includes taking long motorcycle rides together and grabbing a bite to eat.

The secret to their success is communication, the couple said.

"We try to work together," Bonnie said. "We discuss things. Anything major, we talk about."

That's not to say they don't have fights.

"If you've been married for a while and you don't argue you're not being honest, or you're walking away or something," Gary said.

They also try not to go to bed angry.

"You never know what's going to happen, so we try to make it a habit of not going to bed mad," Bonnie said. "We still try to say 'I love you.'"