This excerpt is from our last quarterly newsletter Read the full newsletter here.
Interview by Terry Jackson, Director of Marketing
Independent Living residents, Evelyn and Donald (“Andy”) Anderson celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary on Friday, June 9th. What an extraordinary achievement!
Who is this delightful couple who have traversed life’s pathways together?
From Chance Meetings to Lifelong Partnership
Evelyn was born in Texas, Andy in Illinois. They met in college at Rice University in 1946. Despite being younger than Andy, Evelyn completed high school earlier, since, at that time, Texas only offered 11 years of school. Additionally, she completed college in only two years, since her bachelor’s program was run 6 days a week, year-round. Rice University had 1500 students at the time and allowed a maximum of only 300 female students. Odds were against him, but Andy persisted.
Andy promised his parents he’d wait until he finished college to get married. He graduated Monday, June 7th and married Evelyn on Wednesday, June 9th. He had apparently waited long enough!
A Journey of Love and Adventure
When touring me through their home in EdenHill’s Independent Living, Andy shared with me a framed Western Union telegram dated December 21st, 1947. It begins, “You have been drafted by the Green Bay Packers. By all means, do not obligate yourself until I have a chance to contact you personally. Have a good proposition for you…” It is signed by none other than Curley Lambeau.
Although he decided against playing football professionally, he did officiate college football for several seasons.
Andy’s first job was with Houston Natural Gas following their honeymoon. He worked for the Pacific Northwest Pipeline Corporation (which changed names over the years), as they built a pipeline from New Mexico through the Pacific Northwest, and into Jasper Canada. Andy worked on the business end, campaigning officials to authorize the pipeline through its various stages of development.
Evelyn initially worked for the Boy Scouts as an executive secretary and registrar for all scouts in Houston. She took time off to raise their three children, and when the youngest went off to school Evelyn became a teacher. She taught High School Government in El Paso and was twice voted the teacher of the year.
Their marriage has been a journey, with Andy’s job moving them from Houston to Albuquerque, Salt Lake City, El Paso, and finally to their Tierra Linda ranch between Kerrville and Fredericksburg, where they retired. Evelyn was reluctant to move to the ranch when Andy first showed her pictures. “All the neighbors had cows in their front yard”, she exclaimed. But as soon as she drove into the ranch, she stated, “This is it”. She was home.
I asked Evelyn if she ended up with cows in her front yard and she stated, “Well of course! Why do you think we had to put in a fence?”
When they realized it was too much work to maintain the ranch, Evelyn and Andy searched for retirement communities throughout Texas, in Austin, Dallas and Houston. But when they toured EdenHill, Evelyn once again realized, “This is it”. She was home again. They moved to EdenHill Communities in 2016, where, now at ages 97 and 96, they remain independent, active and vibrant, surrounded by their multitude of friends.
Love, Laughter, and Lifelong Companionship
The couple has had their share of sorrows and triumphs. Most notably, they have lost two of their children, Donald and Sally, yet supported each other through these heartbreaking experiences.
Andy triumphed as the first recipient of a transcatheter aortic valve replacement (TAVR). His aortic valve had been narrowing, he was losing energy and was becoming seriously short of breath. His Medical Team thought he’d be a strong candidate for the surgery. Sure enough, Andy started walking the halls the morning after the procedure, went home 3 days later, and hasn’t had heart issues since.
They “have had a lot of fun together” having visited 49 of the 50 states. “We haven’t stood still”, Andy offers with a grin. The couple developed deep friendships over the years. When they learned a number of their neighbors shared their same anniversary month and year, they celebrated their 25th anniversary together at a big party. They reunited for their 50th anniversary with a number of these couples and continued to celebrate. However, they are now the lone remaining couple to reach their 75th anniversary.
The Key to Their Success
When I ask what has been most important in the success of their marriage, Evelyn doesn’t miss a beat. “Love and laughter. They will carry you through anything, as long as you keep doing them together.” Andy has a twinkle in his eye as he nods towards his bride.
I do believe Evelyn and Andy have a bit of love and laughter still ahead of them.