Don and Dina Dias met 65 years ago. Dina, a native of San Francisco, was visiting family in Louisiana while Don was home in Plaquemine on leave from the Navy. Shortly after their chance meeting, Don was stationed in Dina’s hometown and he looked her up. The two were married six months later in 1955. Don remembers falling in love quickly and traveling to California to snatch her up, while Dina recalls his persistence that convinced her that he was the one.
The 87-year-old husband and 83-year-old wife have come a long way since those days. They have raised four successful sons and moved away and back to Louisiana. They recently became residents at Garden View Assisted Living in Baton Rouge.
“We’ve been here since January, and it has been an adjustment,” said Dina. “I’ve always been so independent, but I’m getting adjusted to depending on others. They take good care of us — and they didn’t tell me to say that!”
Initially, Don was not happy about the decision to move to Garden View, but within a few weeks of being there, he had changed his tune and realized the benefits. Quickly after moving in, the Diases began to enjoy the various activities available for residents — and continue to do so. Dina loves playing cards and Bingo, and together they attend weekly musical performances. In addition to country music and the sound of the guitar, Don enjoys listening to Wayne Busby play songs by Frank Sinatra every Wednesday.
“I do a foot dance,” said Don. “I never liked to dance, but I sit down and dance with my feet.”
Despite his aversion to dancing, Dina considers her husband to be a true Louisiana boy. He loves to watch LSU baseball, football and basketball. He is also a fan of the Saints and Drew Brees, whom he admires for giving back so much to the state.
Don served as a boiler technician on the USS Bremerton (CA-130) during the Korean War and continues to be proud of his service to his country. Although he moved around during his service time, he brought Dina to Louisiana after getting out of the military. He first took a job with Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation in Illinois, but he moved his family back to Louisiana as soon as he could. Dina is also happy to call Louisiana her home and credits the way of life with making her husband into the thoughtful and loving man he has always been.
“I’ve come to love Louisiana, too” said Dina. “I’ve slowed down a good bit here, which has been quite pleasant. People are taught to be polite and respect other people.”
The couple appreciates the ease with which they can go places while living in Garden View. The staff is helpful in getting them to the car, loading their walkers and transporting them to and from Walmart each week. They even get to be adventurous every now and then. One of their most fun outings so far was a trip to Global Wildlife Center in June, complete with a picnic lunch.
Since Don no longer drives, and Dina is unable to cook after multiple surgeries, the two are grateful that these services are provided. They are also happy to relieve the responsibility from their sons, especially John, the youngest Dias. He has taken on most of the responsibility for driving his parents around — not an easy feat in Baton Rouge traffic.
“He knows we are well taken care of here,” said Dina. “He was taking us to the doctor and running errands. All of that is taken care of now.”
The Diases are clearly proud of the four boys they raised. Three of them live out of state — in North Carolina and Texas — and John lives just a few minutes from the couple’s new home.
“He works out of his home for a company that has something to do with clouds,” laughed Dina. “You know what I mean.”
The couple has had many valuable experiences throughout the years, both together and individually. Dina has traveled cross-country by bus through a snowstorm and met kind and interesting people along the way. Don’s military service, as well as his experience as a husband and father, has taught him valuable lessons. His advice for living a long, happy life?
“Clean living, healthy food and a beautiful wife,” he said.
In addition to having a husband who speaks so sweetly about her, Dina believes that a long and happy marriage is a result of caring for one another completely. Don agrees that she has done a good job of caring for him. He also believes that the two have mastered the key to a long and happy marriage, which he believes comes down to one simple necessity: lots of love.