As Valentine’s Day approaches, we celebrate not just a day of love but a remarkable love story that has spanned 57 years and counting. From road tripping as a first date to enjoying dinners together at Avamere at Sandy’s memory care community, Carl and Kay have shared a life of joy, hardships, and enduring love.

A forever bond founded in religion

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It all began in June 1965 when Carl and Kay met through church. Both part of the same church denomination, Evangelical Methodist Church, they attended different congregations. Their first encounter was orchestrated by mutual friends who thought the two could make a good match – and they were right!

Soon after, they were on their first date – a weekend trip to Central Washington! Friends had asked Carl to drive a truck up, but Carl said he wanted someone to drive with him. The passenger they found was of course Kay!

The two stayed in two separate homes that weekend separated by a flooding river. They enjoyed walks and a long bus ride back to Oregon together – and that’s when Carl fell in love with Kay.

“I thought life would be better if I had someone like this to share it with,” Carl shared.

The proposal

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Because religion was such a crucial part of Carl and Kay’s life, church was the perfect place to pop the big question. Carl told Kay he had something important to say to her, but she said she needed to set up her classroom at church first.

“We went to a dark, cold, small church and I waited patiently,” Carl said.

The only room somewhat warm was the furnace room, so Carl proposed there and the lovebirds got married on August 20, 1966.

A challenging first two years of marriage

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Carl and Kay were madly in love, but before they even made it to their first anniversary, Carl was drafted.

When thanked for his service to our country, Carl responded, “Kay suffered more than I did.” He shared how he was in basic training for their first anniversary, only home for Christmas and some weekends.

He returned home for a while, only to leave again to serve in the Vietnam War. He was in Vietnam during his second anniversary. Carl was delighted to be reunited with his wife for their third anniversary.

Carl’s devotion for Kay

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Carl has deep devotion for Kay, even today introducing her as his beautiful bride.

Carl worked for his dad at the small business camera shop. He was career-focused and aimed to make his dad proud. Carl noted his admiration for his wife Kay, at home with three kids under three.

“She is amazing,” Carl shared.

Carl is proud of her as both a mother and in her career. She ran the switchboard for Fred Meyer headquarters, and then was a receptionist for a construction company.

“She answered the phone with a smile,” he said. “If you called in half a dozen times, she knew your name by your voice.”

As Carl describes Kay in simple yet profound words – beautiful and loving – it’s evident that their love has only deepened over the years. Now Carl has advice for younger couples, words of wisdom he heard from a pastor: “Seek first the ultimate lover of your soul, Jesus. Everything else in life is just details.”

Most treasured memories

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The Barneys’ love story is rich with treasured memories as a couple and family.

Carl and Kay raised four children. They adopted their oldest daughter Elizabeth from Korea when she was 3 and a half months old. “She’s been a delight,” Carl shared. They then had a son named Aaron, daughter named Andrea, and their youngest son Matthew.

A standout treasured moment was their vacation to London and Rome, where the joy of the journey was not the destinations but the company of each other.

When asked what his favorite part of the trip was, Carl humbly responded, “Kay. It was a joy to see her enjoying the trip.”

They also shared many laughs together. Carl remembers their last big laugh before Kay’s dementia set in. She was losing the ability to say nouns.

She said, “Do we have any” and made a gesture with her hands.

Carl responded, “I’m sorry honey, we’re all out of” and repeated her gesture. “But we have lots of” and did the gesture backwards.

“We broke out in the largest belly laugh we’ve had in a long time,” Carl shared. “You’ve got to have fun wherever you can.”

It was a moment of pure joy as they found humor amongst life’s challenges.

They also enjoyed beach trips together and traveling coast to coast visiting family.

Finding family in Avamere

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As Kay’s dementia progressed, Carl’s children encouraged him to find a place where Kay could be cared for. “We were very blessed to know the sales director at Avamere,” Carl shared.

They chose Avamere at Sandy to be Kay’s new home, a memory care community in Sandy, Oregon. Even though she moved in three years ago, Carl still remembers move-in day like it was yesterday.

“I remember that day because I was totally in shock,” Carl shared.

Carl was surrounded with support. Carl took Kay to lunch while his daughters moved their mom’s things to Avamere at Sandy and set up her room. “They’ve supported me 100%,” Carl said about his children.

Today, Carl is thankful for the caring team at Avamere. “They take wonderful care of Kay,” he shared. “They’re angels.”

Carl described Avamere as family. He enjoys dinners with Kay almost every evening, and Avamere always has a plate reserved for him.

“To help her with her dinner – very important to both of us,” Carl shared.

Carl and Kay continue making happy memories together. At the end of 2023, an acapella group sang hymns at Avamere at Sandy. The happy couple enjoyed the music together.

“She started singing hymns with them and remembered most of the words to several songs,” Carl said.

From their early dating years to today, religion has remained an important part of their life. “Our faith in Jesus kept us together.”

As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, let the love story of Carl and Kay Barney inspire us all – a tale of faith, commitment, laughter, and enduring love.