"How we met" – love that withstands the test of time

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By Caroline Rosacker

“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”– Dr. Seuss 

Technological advancements and innovations have changed the way we live. A good example is how we approach relationships and dating. With 24/7 access to cell phones and the internet you can find a date faster than it takes to get ready for a night out. When you’re already in an existing relationship, technology keeps you in touch much easier than handwritten letters and a rotary phone. Couples can text one another, send photos, video recordings and Facetime whenever they are feeling lonely.  

The Guttenberg Press, in a celebratory nod to this past Valentine's Day, reached out to subscribers who met one another the old fashioned way – at dances, college libraries and movie theaters. Their relationships have withstood the test of time, and their love for one another has deepened over the years. Here are their stories in alphabetical order. 

Carol and John Hartman

We met at Lakeside Ballroom in the late 1960's. "I was hanging out with Carol's brothers and went to their home in Dyersville. I came down the basement stairs when she was playing pool with her Dad. When I saw her it was pretty much love at first sight!  Wow, I want to marry that girl." We did on July 18, 1970.

Good communication has helped us establish our family commitment to our daughters and to the responsibilities that came with marriage. With our religious beliefs as Catholics, God has pulled us through the tough times over the years.  We have worked together in a business, and played together with dancing, camping and traveling. A close-knit family and friends brought both laughter and tears through the years. Our love of music has enriched our married lives as St. Mary's choir members for 50 years.

Brian and Jackie Lee

Brian and I will be married 34 years! When I was asked to share our story and a few secrets for a long marriage, Brian and I were in the “spot” – you know the one! It’s the one where life is moving along at a comfortable pace and you're pretty sure you can think of glowingly beautiful things to share with others about your lifelong secrets of the perfect marriage. Truth is – there isn’t a perfect marriage, a perfect couple, or a perfect life!   

Brian and I knew each other from birth. His mom always told us about the picture she had of me in the playpen and Brian and his brother trying to get into the pen to get me. We sure didn’t like each other from birth!   I remember telling my mom how much I disliked Brian Lee because of a comment he had made to me in public about my appearance. (It’s not newsprint approved so I can’t share.) Then one day out of the blue, Brian showed up to ask me out on a date while I was mowing lawn at my parents’ home. He took over mowing and I’ve never mowed lawn again. Tell me any woman who wouldn’t love that!    

I suppose marriage is a lot like the Great River Road.   Some days the road is smooth, offering beautiful scenic views and meandering hills, yes, those days are easy!   Other days, the hills on the road are hard to get up, the potholes knock you off course and the gems hidden in the weeds along the route are more difficult to find.   Those are the times you have zero desire to keep going.   Those are the days I try to focus on the three things my mom, Diane Schilling, told me when I complained about our marriage road.    

1) "Do not go to bed married to the plumber and think you are going to wake up with the chef. You married Brian for a reason, focus on that and ignore the imperfections you are dwelling on today, cause guess what sunshine, you ain’t perfect either!” 

2) “You don’t have to be right all the time or always have the last word.” (I’m still working on perfecting this piece of advice, truth is, Brian is too!) 

3) “Your spouse must always be your best friend.  Sure, you’ll have kids, jobs, and close relationships with others, but in the end, the kids leave, the jobs change and there you sit. Make sure you work harder to maintain your best friend than you do to maintain your job or raise your kids.”     

So back to the road, it is always there.  Some days you just have to work harder to appreciate it, especially if the weeds needs mowing!    

Sue and Bill Leonhart

Our story begins in May of 1972 when Bill and I were seniors at Winona State College in Winona, Minn. I worked on campus at Maxwell College Library as a student assistant. One of my supervisors was Sister Martha Barnett. I had taken several classes from her to complete my degree in Library Science. Little did I know that inside that quiet little nun there was a matchmaker waiting to do her magic. 

It was a balmy spring evening and I was working the last shift at the library reserve circulation desk. Reserve materials were high in demand and were kept behind the desk. Students must ask for them. They could be checked out for a period of two hours and could not leave the library. Shortly into the evening a flirty guy with an engaging smile came to the desk to request a book. (Later, he admitted he was checking me out behind the counter in my hip-hugger jeans.) I told him the book had been checked out and that he would have to come back later. I wasn’t thinking every ten minutes later, but there he was with that same smile. On one of those trips, he introduced himself as Bill Leonhart, but we were quickly interrupted by someone that needed a book. So, he left and Sister Barnett came to relieve me so I could go on my break. Bill was a little surprised to be greeted by a nun on his return visit. Anyone that knows Bill knows he is a talker, so the two of them began to hat. Sister Barnett stated she had noticed he had made several trips to the circulation desk and wondered if it was just for a book. She went on to say what a wonder girl I was, and such a hard worker. Sister let him know that I had just broken up with the guy I had been dating. At the end of their conversation, she promised Bill she would send me out with the book when it was returned. Little did we know she had the book under the counter waiting to be delivered. When I came back from break Sister Barnett told me that the nice young man that had persistently been visiting the desk had been back. She then smiled and said, “I think he wants to take out that book and you, too.”  She handed me the book told me take it out to him. When I showed up at his table with the book, he fumbled, blushing slightly as if he was embarrassed, “Well, I really do need that book,” he looked away sheepishly. The rest of the evening went quickly, and it was now closing time at the library. I gathered my books and walked out into the starlit night. Bill was waiting outside by the library door. He flashed me a sideways smile and asked if he could walk me home. We walked the four blocks to my off-campus apartment. Right from the start, we had a pretty strong connection.  We chatted for two hours on the front steps of my apartment. To our surprise, it turned out we grew up just a mere twenty-minute drive from each other and had never crossed paths. Bill said he came to my hometown all the time (not), and maybe he would see me there Friday night. We exchanged phone numbers and, then he sauntered off down the sidewalk. Suddenly he turned around, took the plunge and yelled, “Hey, why don’t we make it a date!” I turned, with a grin on my face andshouted back, “It’s a date, call me.” The rest is history.

Mick and Carolyn Pierce 

We both grew up in Guttenberg and met in the 1960’s when we were freshmen in high school. Mick had gone to grade school at St. Mary’s before going to the public school where Carolyn attended. They both remember meeting at a Christmas movie at school in the multi-purpose room. They started dating, going on double dates with Carolyn’s sister and her boyfriend. During high school, Mick worked at Tony’s Texaco and Carolyn at the Princess Theater. Pretty soon they were a steady couple all through high school. They went to junior and senior proms together, to school dances like Homecoming, and to Lakeside Ballroom. Mick always loved cars and when they began dating he had a 55’ Chevy. After going steady for five years, they decided to get married after high school. They were married on Jan. 17, 1970, and this year they celebrated their 51st anniversary. They have four sons – Jason (and Jillian), Joe (and Adria), Andy and Brett (and Shelby) – and nine grandchildren. “We feel very blessed with a wonderful family,” said Carolyn. 

Dorothy and Robyn Tangeman

Dorothy and Robyn Tangeman will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary this year. The Tangmans live in Guttenberg during the warm weather months and spend their winters in Arizona. The adventurous couple has traveled extensively and enjoy walking, hiking and biking together. 

We met at a dance in Le Sueur, Minn. I spent each summer working in a canning factory (home of the Jolly Green Giant). One evening my cousin and I were walking down the main street and we got a wolf whistle from a passing car. The guys in the car asked where we were going and my cousin told them we were going to a dance. The hotel we were standing in front of had a dance floor. 

The boys in the car were Robyn and Loras Kickbush. They were returning from a car trip to Yellowstone Park. The two men joined us and we went to the dance. Robyn doesn’t dance but he made an effort that evening. So long story short, we kept in touch. He went into the service for three years and I went into nurses training for three years in Faribault, Minn., at St. Lucas Deaconess Hospital. We wrote letters to one another and occasionally visited. I actually took a Greyhound Bus to Guttenberg. He said either the car or he was getting tired of driving 250 miles every weekend, so we got engaged in August and were married Jan. 5th ,1957 in Le Sueur, as our church in Henderson was under going a restoration at the time. It was a cold day, but it didn’t snow. We love to travel and enjoy many outdoor activities. We always talk through our decisions. Robyn says, “I always have the last word.” I say, “Yes, dear!”

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