Forty years is a long time for anything, especially when it comes to marriage.
This year, Lester Holt, anchor of NBC Nightly News, and his wife Carol Hagen celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. During those four decades both have made a name for themselves in their respective industries, and they have also raised two wonderful sons. They’re also grandparents to three beautiful grandchildren.
Holt and Hagen first met in 1980 when Holt was a student at California State University and Hagen was a flight attendant. Shortly after they began seeing each other, the budding journalist asking Hagen if she wanted to accompany him to an out-of-control forest fire.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I’ve never been invited to go on a breaking news story before,’” she said, according to Sactown Magazine. “‘A forest fire—that could be considered a hot date!’ So I said, ‘I’m game.’ I guess I knew what I was getting myself into with Lester and his career.”
The couple later vacationed in New York City, and while there Holt spoke with Jerry Nachman, a former reporter and mentor who recently joined WCBS-TV. The then 22-year-old visited the studio and was urged to give television a try. He was used to radio.
Within weeks, he received a call from WCBS offering him a job in New York City. Since Hagen was impacted by the 1981 airline industry’s contraction, she was without a job so she followed Holt to New York.
They married in 1982.
In no time the couple moved to Los Angeles where Holt worked for KNXT-TV as a weekend anchor and reporter. He returned to WCBS for three years before he was approached about a position in Chicago.
By then, a 27-year-old Holt and his wife were expecting their first child together. Stefan Holt was born, and the family of three lived in Chicago for the next 14 years.
The couple’s second son, Cameron, was born a few years after Stefan.
After being demoted at his job in Chicago, he admitted it was time to look for something new. He was close to signing a contract with a station in California when the NBC’s cable news startup MSNBC contacted him.
Holt was torn. Should they go to California to be closer to his family or take on a new adventure?
“The strange thing is that California is home for us, but going to New York, for me? I just instinctively knew it was the right thing to do,” Carol said.
They chose New York, where Holt is currently the anchor for NBC Nightly News. Hagen began her second career as a real estate agent.
Over the years the couple celebrated many milestones together while also dealing with parenting, moving, and their careers. But throughout it all, they have managed to stay strong. Holt says it’s all because the two love to laugh.
“We laugh a lot; we really do. I can be silly; she can be sillier,” Holt told Extra.
“She understands that when the bell rings, I like to answer it, when the big story’s going on, I want to be there … I love her to death, she’s been so wonderful, she knows this job is going to bring a lot of late-night phone calls … but she’s there for me and that means an awful lot.”
While it seems like life isn’t exactly slowing down for the couple, they still manage to find time to spend with their sons, who are in their 30s, and their three grandchildren who affectionately refer to Holt as “granddude.”
“It’s fun to see a little bit of your child’s personality come through in these grandkids,” Holt told Yahoo. “Sometimes, even my son doesn’t necessarily see what we see. But it’s just fun to watch them grow. It’s also fun to see your child really take on the role of parent and watching them instill values in their children. It’s very special.”
This is what a 40-year relationship looks like. You can tell how much love Lester and Carol have for each other and their family. May they celebrate many more years together.