I've had my beard without a break since 1967, which is tied for the earliest date I've seen on this thread. My wife has never seen my face clean-shaven (and, happily, has no desire to). I was about 90 pounds lighter in those days, too, so I don't really know what my face looks like now, either.
People at the time assumed it was a lifestyle statement, but it wasn't -- I just hate shaving, and grew a beard as soon as my (then) conservative profession would let me get away with it. (I'm no longer a teacher, nor are teachers as conservative as they used to be...)