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Couple celebrated 59 years of marriage

By Staff | Dec 29, 2015

Robert and Rosemary Houseknecht celebrated 59 years of marriage

Dr. Robert A. Houseknecht, a graduate of Hughesville High School in 1954, and his wife Rosemary, formerly of Newport News, recently celebrated fifty-nine years of marriage at a ballroom dance party in The Villages, Florida.

The couple have lived in The Villages, Florida (part time or full time) since 1998, but spend considerable time with family in Virginia Beach. They have moved more than twenty-five times since their marriage in 1956, at the Grace Methodist Church in Newport News, by the Reverend Albert Simms.

The Houseknechts have three children, two grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

After graduation from Hughesville High School Dr. Houseknecht completed an undergraduate degree from Lycoming College. He is a retired commissioned officer from the USAF and the Commissioned Corp, US Public Health Service, having completed his medical training at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a PhD in Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

He also holds a MPH from the University of Pittsburgh. After retiring from the Public Health Service, Dr. Houseknecht was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine, secondary appointment in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Eastern Virginia Medical School. During his career, Dr. Houseknecht held community or research faculty appointments at the University of North Carolina, University of Pennsylvania and the University of Vermont. He retired from a second career as an Epidemiologist and Director, Division of Chronic Diseases, Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Robert Houseknecht from Hughesville and his wife, Rosemary were first married in 1954.

As a medical epidemiologist, at age 78 he continues to teach graduate medical courses in communicable diseases, epidemiology and public health for the American Military University, American Public University System (APUS). He was recently honored as a top professor by his students. His portfolio is impressive according to his colleagues. He holds several PhD’s as well as graduate courses in Medical Administration.

Rosemary, the former Rosemary Bell of Newport News, Virginia, is novelist Jeanne Leighton, her latest pseudonym. Her current novel is available at Barnes and Nobel and most other fine book stores upon request. “Veronica’s Story” is also available on Amazon and e-books. Several novels can be found by Jeanne Leighton on Amazon. “When laughter Ends,” first in a series of three current novels including “The Ebbing Tide,” and “Weathering the Storm”. “Veronica’s Story” is currently the final book and the trilogy.

Her career evolved through travels with Robert and also through her diagnosis of a rare heart disease “Viral myocarditis”.

“This was a very serious illness necessitating several months of hospitalization and years of debilitating cardiac problems. Since my husband was a United States Public Health Services Officer assigned to the NIH, my health care was exemplary,” she stated. With the proper medication, Rosemary was able to lead a normal life, and so far has written nine books, two of which were sold to a movie studio. She starts in longhand before editing to the computer. As this is a restful process for her, Rosemary said, “At age 78, I am anxious to just get the work out.”

Her trilogy, “Veronica’s Story” mirrors that of her life and Robert’s in education, career status, family, travel abroad and medical aspects. “We mostly differ in the fact that I have been happily married to one man for almost sixty years.”

All profits from her books, now selling, are earmarked for donation to a separate Cancer Research “fund- account” for the next 13 months. “I am proud that “Veronica’s Story” can be purchased through Barnes & Noble and other fine book stores, on Amazon, on Kindle and in public libraries throughout the United States,” said Rosemary Houseknecht.