Bud Kreh was 76 years old when he landed his first paper route.
“They couldn’t get in to Stirrup Key because of the gate, so I told ‘em, heck, I’d deliver the papers,” he laughed, remembering how he used to fold and bag The Weekly Newspapers for his buddy John Bartus.
Each Valentine’s Day, The Weekly meets with a Middle Keys couple that has positively influenced their community and whose relationship has stood the test of time. Perhaps it is their commitment of their timeless wedding vows to stand by each other through sickness and in health, for rich or poor until death do them part.
Or, as we quickly learned, maybe it’s something as simple as the ability to laugh at each other.
“Laughing,” Bud and his lovely wife, Marge, agree, “is sometimes the best and only thing you can do.”
Last year, the couple celebrated 50 years of marriage by taking their four children and six grandchildren on a cruise. As he reflected on their lifetime together, Bud explained how he met his bride-to-be.
Bud logged long hours in the library studying with fellow law school students. It was common, he remembered, for them to take a break for dinner and grab a bite in the school’s hospital between studying monumental cases and pouring over books.
One evening, he turned to the future attorneys and said, “See that girl over there? That’s the kind of girl I’m gonna marry!”
So what was it that made the young nursing student so attractive?
“She was a strong woman, able to take care of herself,” he said proudly. “I was also attracted to her openness. I got a feeling she had a lot of qualities I was looking for in a gal.”
The couple began dating, but as soon as Marge finished her nursing degree, she continued her studies in pursuit of a Master’s Degree at the University of Texas.
“We continued our relationship through ‘snail mail’,” she remembered.
Try as he might, Bud could not break the composure of the young nurse that had stolen his heart.
“I proposed to her twice and she turned me down!” he laughed.
One fateful morning, however, proved his persistence would pay off.
“It was about seven o’clock in the morning, and I’d been up since six out fishing off a pier in Galveston,” Marge remembered. “He called me, asked me to marry him, and I finally said yes. Know what he said? ‘Why?!’ I told him that I finally realized I was in love with him.”
A legal career never panned out for Bud, but he successfully supported his family selling aviation electronic equipment.
In 1969, he was recruited by one of his customers, Bendix Avionics, to relocate to Florida. The couple flew into the Sunshine State Memorial Day weekend, and by the time they returned to suburban Baltimore home, they had purchased a home and successfully enrolled their four children in school.
Bud and Marge would regularly load up their brood for a road trip to the Florida Keys.
“Back then, we could stay at the Buccaneer for two nights for only $45,” Marge remembered. “And, that included four meals!”
The family thoroughly enjoyed chartering a local captain for sailing and fishing trips, but one day during their visit, rainy weather kept them on land.
“We decided to go look at property, and that was that,” he laughed.
It wasn’t until the mid 80s that the Krehs were finally able to retire to their Marathon home on Stirrup Key. The unique octagonal shape was one Marge conceived and hired Aultman Construction to erect.
Retirement has only enabled them to continue in their dedicated service to the Middle Keys community.
“Peter Chapman always says he loves it here because you can really be involved,” Bud said. “We really just love Marathon.”
He is an active member of Rotary as well as an Elder at Kirk of the Keys Presbyterian Church.
One of his proudest accomplishments was being part of the negotiation and purchase of the building out of which Marathon Community Theatre now operates. He’s played parts in numerous performances over the years and is still active in a barbershop quartet.
His musical talents, Marge suggested, were likely nourished by his mother, who was an accomplished pianist and harp player.
In high school, he played the cello and explained how he joined an orchestra his senior year of high school.
“It was made up of professionals and amateurs, so when we were playing a concert, if I thought I was going to mess up, I’d just lift my bow off the cello but keeping moving it like I was still playing,” he laughed.
Bud and his wife, an active member in the Marathon Garden Club, are also MHS band boosters.
“The first uniforms they ever got were dark heavy wool, and I couldn’t imagine marching around a football field and trying to play an instrument while you’re dripping with sweat,” he laughed.
Though he’s since given up his paper route, Bud stays busy enough for both of them.
For their 50th wedding anniversary last year, Bud and Marge took their whole family on a cruise.
Bud and Marge
What’s the secret to a successful marriage like Bud and Marge Kreh? “Being able to laugh with each other and having a sense of humor,” she suggested.