LAS VEGAS — Theresa Faiss' marriage to former state Sen. Wilbur Faiss lasted more than some lifetimes, and earned congratulations from the president. Just months after being recognized as being the longest married couple in America, the matriarch of the Faiss family has died in Las Vegas at the age of 97.
The couple were honored in January by the Worldwide Marriage Encounter as being the longest-married couple for 2012. They were married for 79 years.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Theresa Faiss died Sunday. Private services are planned.
"She was an amazing woman who was adored by her three sons," Linda Faiss, her daughter-in-law, told the newspaper. "Fortunately the family got together a couple of days ago for Dad's 101st birthday.
Wilbur Faiss, who served in the Senate between 1976 and 1984, is the oldest living former Nevada state legislator.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama had planned to give the couple a public acknowledgement during a campaign appearance in southern Nevada, but they were unable to attend.
Family members say they met the president during a later visit.
The award is given only once to a couple by Worldwide Marriage Encounter, the newspaper said, so three other couples at the time might have had longer marriages.
In an earlier interview, Wilbur Faiss told the Review-Journal that the key to success in politics or in marriage is "compromise."
"Every day I ask her how she feels and, 'Is there anything I can do for you?' And say, 'Honey, I still love you.' "
Theresa Watts Faiss was born Sept. 10, 1915, near Centralia, in Clinton County, Ill. Her brother, Clifford, still lives in the area. A sister, Hazel, and a brother, Melvin, preceded her in death.
The Faisses moved to North Las Vegas in 1944. They opened the Truck Haven in the early 1950s and later opened the Truck Harbor near Nellis Air Force Base. The businesses are no longer there. While Wilbur Faiss worked at the Nevada Test Site, now called the Nevada National Security Site, Theresa Faiss operated the service station and a cafe with the help of their three sons.
In 1996, Theresa Faiss was honored as Clark County's Pioneer Mother of the Year.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sons, lawyer Robert Faiss and retired hotel executives Ron and Don Faiss; six grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
The Faisses' proudest legacy, according to their family, was the Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School. The couple would visit the school annually and talk with students.