Couple Married 60 Years Working to Raise Alzheimer's Awareness

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) – On Valentine's Day in 1954, Mark and Ann Linkous went on their first date. 60 years of marriage later, on the same holiday, Ann Linkous was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. 

"The first time I met Ann, she was a little 16-year-old giggly girl," Mark explained. 

"I liked him...I still like him," Ann said with a laugh. 

The two has an instant connection on their first date on Valentine's Day. 

"I don't know that a rodeo can be that romantic for your first date and for Valentine's Day but we had a great time anyway," Mark said. 

They were married five months later and since then their love has grown, welcoming two daughters, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. 

"She's been a great wife and mother, she kept...back in my working years, she kept the home fires burning," Mark said of Ann. 

Ann and Mark Linkous have now been fighting the disease and advocating for Alzheimer's awareness for the last four years. 

But six decades after Valentine's Day brought them together, the holiday would also bring a diagnosis of Alzheimer's for Ann. 

"It's a devastating thing for the family, there's no question about that, it's devastating for her, it's devastating for all of us because there's no cure," Mark explained. 

"It's something I hate to be honest," Ann said. 

Now Mark has taken on the role of Ann's caregiver, taking over things like cooking and paying the bills. Although it's been hard, the couples uses their story to raise awareness about Alzheimer's.  

"Ann said from the beginning, I want to go public with mine and see if it'll help other people," Mark said. 

The couple refuses to let the disease win. 

"We dwell on the positive...we do a lot of laughing," Mark said. "We haven't let it really change Valentine's Day for us." 

And no matter what the future may bring, their love remains just as strong as it was after that first date. 

"I think I love her as much as any guy could love his wife and that hasn't changed and it won't change," Mark said. 

"I think after 64 years, I think it'll work," the couple joked.  

Although it has been difficult since Mark Linkous has taken on the role of his wife's caregiver, the couple refuses to let this diagnosis win. 

Mark and Ann are serving as co-chairs for the Longest Day, a fundraiser for Alzheimer's that takes place in June. 

For more information about Alzheimer's and the resources available in Northwest Arkansas, click here

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