Redbirds Don and Florence Magee, age 87 and 85 respectively, have been married 61 years. They are more in love than when they first met and feel physically healthier than ever.

Don ’58 served in the U.S. Army before attending ISU. He studied physical education and was on the football team. He and Florence, M.S. ’74, married in 1959. Both completed doctorate degrees at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.

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Don followed his coaching aspirations and served in superintendent jobs. He became director of a Presbyterian church preschool program after retiring. Florence taught for 37 years, including senior education majors at Illinois State, and retired at age 80.

Both faced the physical challenges that come with aging and decided to fight them together. Don made the commitment in 1981 to do 1,000 push-ups daily. He increased his goal to a total of 11,000 a week and in 2019, succeeded in doing 5,000 in one day. Florence inspired him when she was diagnosed with arthritis and committed herself to logging a minimum of 15,000 steps daily.

Don walks, does lawn work, and occasionally plays tennis or golf. The couple bike together and focus on nutrition by eating fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding red meat. The two have grown closer through their health quest and see the benefits as their bodies have grown stronger along with their relationship.

“Because we do these physical things, we feel good. When we feel good, we can do a lot of things, both mentally and physically,” Florence said. The two enjoy traveling, dancing, and reading. They also appreciate time spent with their children and grandchildren.

Now retired in Georgia, the two are not letting their age stop them from achieving future goals. They are quick to encourage others by testifying that people at any age can live a fulfilled and happy life with patience, love, and respect.

“Just because you’re getting older, it doesn’t mean you can’t do things,” Don said. “Take your time, and you’ll get it done.”