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Our City, Our Story. Merle & Stella: 79 years married

ROCKFORD — For 79 years, Merle and Stella Keena have shared a life of love and happiness together. And that flame shows no signs of burning out in the latest entry of Rockford videographer Pablo Korona’s “Our City, Our Story” series.

“When I was in the nursing home, that was the worst experience I ever had,” says Merle, 100. “And she said, ‘You’re not going back in the nursing home.’”

Stella, 95, was true to her word. “I brought him home,” she says. “I take care of him.”

Stella tells how she relies on some neighbors, including a young man, Sam Noe, who clears the snow from the Keena’s driveway.

“My family’s been helping people out in the neighborhood for about 10-to-12 years,” he says. “They insist on paying me, and I’m like, ‘No, no.’ I pretty much always lose those fights.”


Grandchildren help out with groceries, laundry and the other chores. But it’s the nearly eight-decades of love that sustains the couple.

“I’m happy and he’s happy,” says Stella. “And when he’s happy, I’m happy.”

And that’s enough for her husband, too: “I’m happy when she’s around!” R.

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