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Couples share secrets for a lasting romance

POULSBO — Today’s Valentine’s Day hoopla might just pass Les and Edith From right by.

Not because they’re not romantics, but rather because every day is a day for them to hold hands, laugh and make goo-goo eyes at one another.

After 64 years of marriage, they say they’ve learned the key to lasting romance comes with taking it one day at a time.

“All we’re doing is being thankful for every day we have together,” Edith commented. “I wouldn’t mind another 64 years — but I won’t count on it.”

Sixty-six years of marriage has taught Phyllis and Wayne Dupuis the same lesson — that “special” days are what you make of them.

“When our girls were small, we made big things over little things such as Valentines — just every little bitty thing would be special,” Phyllis said. “We still do it and our girls still do it. Every little thing — Halloween is special. Birthdays are special — everything is special.”

On one of the most romantic days of the year, we asked four couples living at Montclair Park at Poulsbo to share their love stories with our readers. They told us of ups and downs, life changes and even a few jokes, and they shared their secrets to a long-term romance.

He chased her, she slowed down

Les, 86, and Edith From, 89, both came of age during the height of the Depression. Edith was dating another boy when they met, but the two worked at the same drug store.

“I chased her,” Les recalled. “It was a hard chase.”

“It was pretty hard to slow down that much to make sure you caught me,” Edith retorted with a laugh. “But was it worth it?”

Reaching over and grabbing his wife’s hand, Les looked into her eyes with a warm smile.

“You know it was,” he said.

They were married on Jan. 24, 1940, on the coldest day of the year in Omaha, Neb.

“I needed someone to keep my feet warm and he’s been doing it ever since,” Edith joked.

During their early years of marriage, the Froms didn’t have much, but they got by. They both continued to work at the same drug store where they’d met and built a marriage on similar goals and backgrounds.

They said Valentine’s Day has never been a very big holiday for them, but one time right after they were married, Les bought Edith a bottle of cream she’d been wanting as a Valentine’s present. One lady they worked with remarked at the low price of the gift and Edith remembered thinking it was the thought that counted.

“It was a lot of money for us,” she said. “To me, it was something big.”

As their marriage grew, the couple added four sons to the mix. Through different jobs on the railroad, in the Navy and fixing computers, Les traveled, but the family stayed well grounded.

Les vividly remembers watching airplanes taking off bound for Denver from the porch of one of their first homes. He said at the time, he promised Edith someday they’d be on one of those flights. Since then, the couple has traveled around the world together.

“We have done a heck of a lot more than we ever thought we would and I think that’s been another thing, it’s been a great adventure,” Les said with a smile.

“We keep thinking, how come? We haven’t done anything special to deserve to be so lucky,” Edith added.

She knew the first night

After 55 years of marriage, Miriam Dorsey, 79, still giggles and blushes like a school girl talking about the night she met her husband Vaughn, 80. The two were attending Oregon State College and met at one of the sock hops the school threw every Friday night.

“He came along and asked me to dance and we danced the rest of the night,” Miriam recalled. “I decided he was the one the first night. He was absolutely the funniest thing I’d ever heard. I had such a good time. I said, ‘I could go through life like this.’”

After they got married, the Dorseys lived on the East Coast for a few years but missed the Northwest. The rest of their years have been spent in the Puget Sound area, primarily in Seattle.

“Once you’re a Westerner, you’re always a Westerner,” Miriam said.

While making a living in Seattle, the Dorseys bought property in Hansville in 1959, where they moved into their retirement home in 1992.

Miriam said Vaughn’s tendency to do sweet things for her for no reason was one of the ways he kept the romance alive through the years. For her, keeping him happy was rarely farther away than a homecooked meal.

“When we first met, we were asking each other a lot of questions,” Miriam remembered. “One of the first things he asked was could I cook. I was a home economics major, so he was very impressed.”

As the years have progressed for the Dorseys, they had three children. Two years ago, Vaughn was moved into the memory care unit at Montclair Park and Miriam moved into residential living side of the facility this November.

Miriam said she’d always thought that having a husband in such a unit would mean they’d hardly get to see each other and she said it was a hard decision to make, but now she’s glad she did. The two are able to see each other whenever they want and Miriam said she’s made friends and learned to appreciate their marriage and the time they have together. Holding her husband’s hand, Miriam said she cherishes being able to come play the piano for him, or just to sit and talk about the old days.

“I think what I realize was give and take is the only way,” Miriam said of the secret to a long marriage. “And I definitely think a sense of humor is a must.”

He said it was her legs

Besides finding a place for her husband in memory care, Phyllis Dupuis, 84, also found friendship when she moved into Montclair Park. She and Miriam Dorsey are neighbors and can often be found visiting their husbands at the same time, or spending time together in other areas of the facility.

But a really special time is definitely seeing her husband Wayne, 86. After 66 years of marriage, Wayne still remembers things like Valentine’s Day for his bride. Fingering a card bearing a filigreed heart from Wayne, Phyllis said small gestures make a romance last.

“And a good sense of humor,” she added. “If you can’t laugh about it, that’s just too bad.”

The couple met in high school in Kent. Phyllis was 15 and a new transfer into the district. Wayne was 18 and the senior designated to drive the school bus. Wayne, who loves to make faces and razz the staff at Montclair Park, smirks when asked what attracted him to the woman who would one day be his wife.

“One day, our oldest daughter asked him what was most interesting to him about me when we met and he said my legs,” Phyllis said with a laugh.

The couple traveled during Wayne’s years in the Army, and eventually had three children. They later settled on Hood Canal, where they lived for 30 years, mainly traveling during the year and returning for summers.

When Wayne moved into memory care, Phyllis commuted between Poulsbo and Hood Canal for some time, until she eventually decided to move into the residential side of Montclair. The two get to see each other often and while Wayne’s memory is sometimes a challenge, Phyllis said the two still cherish each other’s presence.

“Sometimes he’s so happy to see me that he starts to cry,” she commented.

They made a promise

For Al, 88, and Olga Arne, 89, the spark that created 60 years of marriage began while the two were students at Pacific Lutheran College (today, Pacific Lutheran University) in the 1930s.

The children of Norwegian immigrants, the two both grew up speaking Norwegian in the home. Olga was raised in Poulsbo, where her father owned a shoe shop downtown during the time when the Anderson Parkway was still part of the bay.

Al said Olga was difficult to get next to, but he knew right away that he needed to meet that girl.

“I liked her appearance,” he recalled. “She was always neat. She had long, blonde hair. I was going to go for a brunette but I went for a blonde instead.”

They were married in Long Beach, Calif. in 1944. Al worked in underwater detection for the U.S. Navy, and when he was sent to Newfoundland, Olga went back to Poulsbo to set up home near family.

Later, Al worked as a chemist at numerous locations, including Bangor and Keyport, and Olga was a school teacher for 20 years at the Harding School and in Bremerton and Poulsbo. The two said the romance in their marriage hasn’t been built around single days like Valentine’s Day, but instead little gestures. Olga remembered with a laugh the time they were building a new home in Poulsbo and she was up to her ankles in pieces of wood.

“I wrapped one up like a cookie and put it in his lunch,” she recalled with a chuckle.

Today, the Arnes have three children and seven grandchildren with which they enjoy spending time. The two travel and play games together and Al said the secret to their long and happy marriage includes a good sense of humor and a little something that they had way back when.

“Make a wise choice, that’s the first thing,” Al said with a chuckle.

But Olga said the secret to a long romance isn’t really a secret at all. She pointed to their wedding picture, hanging on the wall above Al’s chair.

“We made a promise in the beginning,” she commented.

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