Secrets of a happy marriage: Valley couples in for the long haul share what drew, keeps them together

Kathy and Harley Brumbaugh, in june, 1958, just married. - Courtesy photo
Kathy and Harley Brumbaugh, in june, 1958, just married.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Even in an age in which the longevity of marriage isn’t certain, many will agree that there is something almost magical about a lifelong love.

Valley couples Harley and Kathy Brumbaugh, Jack and Bonnie Barker, and Lynn and Larry Anderson have all been married more than 50 years, and that’s something to celebrate.

Drawn together

Fifty-seven years ago, Kathy made up her mind that she and Harley would meet. They were both students at Central Washington College, but given that she was a freshman and he was a senior, their only interactions were during choir practice. Her opportunity to finally catch his eye came when the choir toured the state. There were two buses and several private cars, and Kathy got her friends to make sure that she and Harley were in the same car.

“I was like a lamb being led to slaughter,” Harley said.

“He was just a friendly person and I had heard so many great things about him,” Kathy said. “Then we drove all around the state together and we got to know each other pretty well.”

The summer after Harley graduated, he was drafted into the military. The week before he left, Harley asked Kathy to marry him under a big chestnut tree in his parents’ front yard in what used to be the city of Snoqualmie Falls. They then began a 10-month engagement.

“We didn’t know if he was going to be sent out of the country,” Kathy said. “But in some ways the separation was good.”

“Whenever I start taking her for granted,” Harley said. “I remember how much I missed her during that period and the tears of joy when we finally got to be together.”

This June, the Brumbaughs will celebrate their 56th anniversary.

The Brumbaughs don’t pretend never to disagree, but say it’s important to consider the other person’s way of doing things. Taking sides separates you.

“The main thing is to leave your ego at the door,” said Kathy. “It’s a team effort. You need to be more concerned with the welfare of the other person.”

“It’s the man’s job to take responsibility to care for his family,” said Harley. “You’ve got to set the tone for the family and be mom and dad together.”

Today, 57 years after their first college choir trip together, Harley and Kathy are still singing in the Snoqualmie Methodist Church choir which Harley directs.

After 60 years of marriage, the Barker family includes 12 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren, above; Courtesy photo

Matched pair

Bonnie met Jack 61 years ago on the North Fork in North Bend. After Bonnie’s brother introduced the pair, they started going steady. Bonnie says that she and Jack fit well together. Their dates to the movies and dance halls were just fun.

On Friday nights, one of their favorite activities was eating at the Ben Paris Restaurant, a diner in Seattle where local boxers congregated.

“We would just have coffee and hamburgers and hang out with all the old-time sports guys,” Jack said.

“We just went there so we could look at them. All those boxers and their cauliflower ears,” Bonnie said. “Just watching them eat and hang out was all we did.”

One night after a date in Seattle, Jack parked his light gray 1949 Ford in Bonnie’s driveway and asked her to marry him.

They were married five months later, in the spring of 1953 at Mount Si Lutheran Church in North Bend. Bonnie had her dress and her bridesmaid’s tea length burgundy dresses made for a very reasonable price by a seamstress in Snoqualmie.

In 1956, they moved their family to a little white house in Fall City.

“It was an ancient, dinky little house, very small for four children,” Bonnie said. “But it was right on the river and right in town.”

Together they raised children, horses, cattle, and sheep and even started a Christmas tree farm.

Jack, reminiscing about first dating Bonnie, says that he just fell for her, in spite of himself. Today, after 60 years of marriage, Bonnie and Jack are still stuck like glue.

“It helps not to argue about things too much,” Bonnie said. “If you do, just leave the house and work in the flowers till you forget about it.”

“You have to have a lot of love for each other,” said Jack. “You can walk away and think of a whole bunch of reasons why you are right, but you’ve got no reason. It takes a little give and take. You’ve got to have love for the rest of the family.”

After 60 years of marriage and commitment to family, Bonnie and Jack have 12 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

A recent photo of Lynn and Larry Anderson, above; Courtesy photo

Love at first sight

If there is such a thing as love at first sight, Lynn and Larry Anderson had it. Fifty-one years ago Lynn and Larry met, got engaged three months later and married three days after that. After their first date, Lynn came home and told her father that thought she had found the one. He reminded her that she barely knew him. But Lynn said she just had a feeling she was going to marry him.

“We just knew we were meant to be and so we didn’t dilly-dally,” Lynn said. “He was 25 and I was 20, we knew what we wanted.”

On March 29, 1963, the Andersons tied the knot in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Larry took a job with Weyerhaeuser and the Andersons planted their family in a small one-bedroom home in Fall City. Although they had only three children of their own, the Andersons always had loads of extra kids at the house. Lynn became famous among their friends and family for her delicious pies. On one occasion, she was asked to bake pies for the Seattle Mariners baseball team.

Right after they moved in, Larry planted 10 apples trees, and Lynn started a garden. Over the years, the one-bedroom house became a three-bedroom house, the garden produced enough produce for canning and the apple trees produced such an overabundance of apples that Lynn had to start giving them away.

The Andersons recalled that their fruit trees didn’t produce much right away, but it took years of work and cultivation. After being married for over 50 years, Lynn and Larry can say that marriage is worth the effort.

“If you disagree on something, you just work through that,” Lynn said. “You just take your vows seriously and you work at it. You enjoy the time that you have today and everyday that you get to wake up together is great.”


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