Jackson Creek Senior Living residents Jim and Roberta Swanson will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in March. In honor of Valentine’s Day, they spoke to us about their long, happy marriage.
How did you first meet?
R: We met at church. It was a very small village church, and we knew all the people there. I was 17 years old and playing the organ at an evening service when I immediately noticed a good-looking guy in the congregation who hadn’t been there before. I wondered, “Who is that?”
J: My parents moved to a new community while I was in the Navy. When I returned home in 1946, I went to church with them and didn’t know anyone, but I was intrigued by the young lady playing the organ. I wondered who she was! But we didn’t meet face-to-face until a couple of weeks later at a youth meeting.
When did you get married?
R: Seventy years ago, March 5, 1950, on an unusually warm day in Iowa following a huge snowstorm. There was deep snow, slush and mud everywhere. We worked so hard to keep my long dress and train out of the mud. It was a beautiful day in every way!
Discuss your personal background. Where did you grow up?
R: I grew up in a small Swedish community called Boxholm. I lived there until I left for college. I had never traveled. My father died when I was just 18 months old, but I had a strong relationship with all my aunts, uncles and cousins. My mother was a certified institutional cook, which is how she supported us. We had a nice house and never wanted for anything. She was such a good manager and a strong woman.
J: I was a “Depression kid” — born when my father was in seminary in Evanston, Illinois. We moved to Butte, Montana for my dad’s first assignment, but when the church closed, we moved to Oregon and then to Iowa. My parents did whatever they could to make a living, including managing apartments, hotels, a raspberry ranch and operating a sawmill. We moved many times and I attended 10 schools before graduating high school. I was drafted into the Navy at 19. After I was discharged, I went to my parents’ home in Boxholm, and that’s where I met Roberta.
What did you do as a career?
J: We were both public school teachers. Roberta taught for 28 years in elementary school and as a special reading teacher, and I taught business education for 37 years.
What are some of the benefits to living together at Jackson Creek?
J & R: Before COVID, we were enjoying the concerts and various programs here, and we met some lovely residents. Since COVID, we have spent a lot of time in our apartment, but we are grateful for the beautiful surroundings, and we have made our apartment feel like our home. We are thankful that the two of us are together here. Jackson Creek offers us the care and assistance we need, plus meals. We especially enjoy the in-house TV channel!
Why do you think you’ve had such a long-lasting marriage?
J & R: Everyone has always considered us a pair. Always Jim and Roberta. We agree to disagree at times, but we always arrive at a final decision together. Everything that we have belongs to “us,” not to just one. We are each other’s rock, and that has carried us through good times and tough times. We have many mutual interests, and we’ve never felt bored.
How do you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year?
J & R: Our Valentine’s Day will be spent together in our apartment. This will be our 74th Valentine’s Day as sweethearts!