Duwes celebrate 70th anniversary

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The Duwes gathered with neighbors and family at Lakeside Ballroom on Sunday, May 3, to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, as well as their 90th birthdays. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

“The bride was attired in a white floor length dress, with a satin bodice, a full net skirt over satin and a sweetheart neckline. The long sleeves came to a point over the wrists. She wore a fingertip veil of fine bridal illusion and a gold heart locket, the gift of the bridegroom. She carried a bouquet of white carnations… The bridegroom wore a light blue suit.” 

The May wedding of Eldora Fuelling and Duwane Duwe took place on a Thursday in 1945. Last weekend, the Guttenberg couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary surrounded by over 100 neighbors and family members from across Iowa and around the country. 

Eldora and Duwane attended school together and became sweethearts when he asked her to a dance in 1943. She was born on a farm in St. Olaf and moved to Guttenberg at age 11. He was born at his family’s home, in the building that has served for years as the clubhouse of the Guttenberg golf course. 

Their wedding was held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Guttenberg, followed by a reception at the Corner Café and a dance in Garnavillo. “The Jolly Ridge Hillbillies played music for us,” Duwane recalls. The band, which has been featured in Our Iowa Magazine, played ‘old time music’ and consisted of brothers Walter and Clarence Meyer, Ernie and Martin Wolter, and Irvin Wolter, who also played the organ during their wedding. 

Eldora still has the locket mentioned in the 1945 wedding announcement. Duwane gave it to her as a Christmas gift before they were married. Inside are two tiny pictures, one of him and one of her. “See, I had dark hair and Duwane had hair,” she laughs. A photo album from anniversaries past contains gold sequins from their wedding flowers, and a vase of carnations on their dining table recalls the bouquets from that day.

When asked whether she ever thought she’d be married 70 years, Eldora simply replies, “Yes.” Her parents, Milo and Elvera Fuelling, were married over 50 years – as were Duwane’s parents, Larry and Matilda. The pair share many hobbies. Over the years, they’ve belonged to a square dancing club, won couple’s golf tournaments, joined a couple’s bowling league, and played cards. 

In 1946, Duwane and Eldora had their first child, Dennis, who was born at home. Diane (Juran) was born in 1951, on the porch at the old hospital on River Park Drive, and four years later their daughter Dottie (Nefzger) was born in today’s Guttenberg Municipal Hospital. Today, the Duwe’s have nine grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. 

After spending time at home raising her children, Eldora went to work at the school kitchen. Duwane worked for 43 years at Meuser Lumber, just steps away from his front door at 11 Koerner Street. He also served as school board secretary in Guttenberg from 1960-79 and cared for the softball, football, and baseball fields for 15 years. During his time as secretary, the south school building was constructed and the gymnasium was rotated to its current east-west position. 

Eldora’s advice for an enduring marriage is simple. “Accept each other,” she says. 

While there are many happy memories from their seven decades spent together, those years also brought the loss of family members through illness and tragedy. “We believe in God. That helps. The good Lord has helped us through a lot of sadness,” she says. “It’s sad for the people who are gone, but you have to live for today. I think they’re all happy for us.”

After 70 years of marriage, Duwane and Eldora, who will both turn 90 this spring, do in fact still like each other. She says, “There are ups and downs, but you always work it out.”

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