“Every day is Valentine’s Day for Michael and me,” said Elaine Kates, a resident of Sagewood who lives with her husband Michael and their adorable dog, Maggie.
Being married for 60 years is no easy feat, but Elaine and Michael Kates make it look easy. From meeting when they were in their early twenties, to traveling the world together, to supporting each other in careers, and starting a family, the Kates have built a beautiful life with one another.
How it All Began
Michael was attending podiatry school when one of his classmates set him up on a blind date. He was antsy to meet this young woman and get to her house – so much so that he cut a driver off in traffic just to get to her quicker. Upon pulling into the driveway, Michael realized the car he cut off followed him all the way to the house. That driver turned out to be Elaine’s father and from that moment on, the couple has never had a dull moment.
Michael took Elaine to one of his favorite pizza places for their first date. Elaine was adamant about getting back to her house by 9:30 p.m. since she had to work the next day. Michael pulled back into the driveway promptly at 9:30 p.m., however, the two stayed in the car and talked for hours more. Neither of them wanted the date to end.
They went on several more dates and talked on the phone every single day until Michael had to return to Canada, where he grew up, for spring break. For those next few weeks, Elaine received hand-written letters every day from Michael. Once he returned, Michael told Elaine that he was serious about a future with her. They met on March 23, were engaged by June 5 and married by September 2. Elaine was only 21 years old, and Michael was 24 years old by the time they were married.
Building Their Lives Together
Michael and Elaine welcomed their first child into the world after 18 months of marriage. After two years of raising their son, they welcomed another child and two years after that, they completed their family with their last child.
In 1969, Michael started his day like every other but on his way to work, he was hit by a massive snowstorm. By the time he returned home, he was ready to move out of the cold climate and into the warm sun.
They decided to visit a few friends in Phoenix, Arizona to see if that was a good fit for their future home. Michael arrived one day before Elaine and when she stepped off the plane Michael informed her that he already bought a house. They spent the next few days with their friends seeing the sites of Arizona and Elaine was sold.
They packed up their belongings, gathered the kids and moved to sunny Arizona. The only challenge was moving away from Elaine’s family, but 15 years later, Elaine’s parents decided to move to Arizona to be with their children and grandchildren.
Michael started a new podiatry practice and within just a few days of being in Phoenix, Michael and Elaine had made many friends, some whom they are still close with.
They lived 48 years in their house at Phoenix, before deciding it was time for another big change. Although Michael was hesitant, Elaine was ready to move into a senior living community – Sagewood to be exact.
In 2021, they moved into Sagewood and have not looked back since! Michael spends his time playing Wii Bowling, painting, and playing billiards. Elaine enjoys mahjong and canasta. The two of them spend time together every day walking their dog, Maggie, around the Sagewood community, attending the Sagewood concerts and trying all the onsite restaurants.
They are frequently visited by all three of their children and now have six wonderful grandchildren and a granddaughter-in-law as well. With all there is to do at Sagewood and spending time with their friends and family, the Kates never get bored.
60 Years of Adventure
Spending 60 years together, lends itself to many exciting adventures and tons of activities. When Elaine and Michael moved to Arizona, they discovered they enjoyed camping. They spent many years camping in Oak Creek Canyon, Flagstaff and in Rocky Point, Mexico. When the kids were old enough, they began taking family camping trips. These camping trips made such a lasting impression on the kids, that their daughter now has a condominium on the beach in Rocky Point to continue their family vacations. They also learned they loved to scuba dive together and travel around the world.
They spent many months exploring France and Elaine even went to school to learn the French language. They now are both fluent in French, spend months at a time on the French countryside and have many friends across the world.
One of the local activities they love most is supporting the Phoenix Suns. Michael and Elaine had season tickets for Suns games for many years but one day their relationship with the Suns grew to a new level.
The head doctor for the Suns asked Michael if he would look at a few of the players foot injuries. After multiple visits from NBA players, Michael became the official podiatrist for the Phoenix Suns. It was more than just a job, but an activity they could do together. They have seen hundreds of games, spent time with friends at games and their sons were even Suns ball-boys during junior high and high school.
“Our entire married life has been exciting,” added Elaine. “We have had a fun, funny, adventurous, and exciting marriage for 60 years. We feel so lucky to have shared this life with each other.”
How’d They Do It?
Elaine explained the key to their long-lasting, happy marriage is simple – be kind to one another. They each lead their lives and this relationship through kindness and positivity.
She shared advice for new couples and those getting ready to start their lives together, “Don’t sweat the little things. Any time you have a disagreement, ask yourself ‘is this really worth getting upset about’ and you will find that it really isn’t. After 60 wonderful years with Michael, I can say that life is short and it goes by so fast. The greatest joy in life is having a partner you love to experience it with. The best advice I can give is think before you act and above all else, always approach your partner with kindness.”
The love Michael and Elaine have for one another is quite unique. Elaine says the stars aligned for them and they put in the work to create beautiful lives for each other.
This Valentine’s Day, hug your partner, your friends and your family extra tight. If you want to hear a love story that trumps all others, strike up a conversation with Elaine and Michael next time they are walking their dog around Sagewood.