Couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

By: 
Cindy Mullet
Sunday, October 6, 2019
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Paul and Liz Winhoffer, front, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in August. The couple is pictured with their children (back L to R) Terri (Winhofer) LeSueur, Ric Winhofer and Patti (Winhofer) Metz.

Liz Winhofer turned 90 in February. Paul Winhofer turned 94 in July. Their 70th wedding anniversary is Nov. 21 so they decided to have a big party in August and celebrate all three events.

No one wants to have a party in the winter, Liz said, explaining why they settled on a date close to Paul’s birthday. It was a good decision as many friends came to celebrate with them in the afternoon and 58 relatives stayed for a supper at the Senior Center.

Paul and Liz come from large families, 9 in Paul’s and 15 in Liz’s, and family has always been important to them, Liz said. It was no surprise that their children, Rick, Patti and Theresia; seven grandchildren; 10 great grandchildren and many extended family members came to help them celebrate.

The couple met when Paul, an army veteran, was in a play organized by some veterans from Billings. Liz’s brother was also in the play, and when one of the women cast members had to drop out, Liz took her place. Three years later they married.

“I came to Glendive and didn’t know a soul,” Paul noted. “I married a Geiger and suddenly was related to three quarters of the town.”

They started married life in a basement apartment next to her mom and dad. One day a few years after they were married, Paul came home and told Liz to get in the car, he had a birthday present for her. She was afraid he had bought a new car and told him they couldn’t afford it. He was making $250 a month and she was making $75 a month, she said.

They drove up to Prospect Heights and stopped by an empty lot with a bit pile of dirt on it. She wanted to know if her present was that mound of dirt. He told her, “Yep.” I’m going to build a house,” she related.

Liz still worried they couldn’t afford to build a house after paying $2,000 for the lot, but with a GI loan their house payment went from $55 a month for the basement apartment to $65.10 a month on the loan for their new home. They paid off the loan in five or six years and still live in that house on Ames Wye, they said.

Paul had started out working for Milne Implement, but when Milnes bought the Coca Cola plant he was asked to work there. He told them he didn’t know anything about bottling Coke but was assured he would learn. He did, and worked there for 34 years, managing the plant the last 10 years, he said.

Through his work for Coca Cola, Paul won a number of trips. Those included trips to Hong Kong and Hawaii and also a trip to Pebble Beach for a golf tournament. After retiring, Paul found himself “going nuts” so he and Liz decided to head South for the winter. They made that trip for a number of years, living in their motor home at first and then staying with their daughter in Texas for some time.

“We’ve been around quite a bit,” he said.

“It was fun to go down to Texas,” Liz added. “They took us all over. It was something different. Now we don’t go nowhere, just stay home.”

They may not travel much anymore but they stay busy. Until a recent hospitalization, Paul mowed the lawn and took care of the yard work. Liz makes her own applesauce and fills shelves with jars of canned produce every summer. She never worries about using it though.

“The kids come down and take all of it,” Paul noted. When one of their granddaughters came for the party, she cleaned out everything from 2018, Liz added.

While none of their three children live in Glendive, they have all done well for themselves and keep in touch regularly. One of their daughters wanted them to move to Texas with her, but the summer heat and humidity didn’t appeal to them, and their friends are all in Glendive.

“This is home,” Paul said. “I know more people here than anywhere.”

Their son in Billings watches them pretty closely, making sure they get to doctor appointments in Billings by either coming down and driving them up or meeting them at the airport and taking them to their appointments.

“I used to boss him when he was little. Now he tells me what to do,” Paul noted.

They have seen a lot of changes over the 70 years of their marriage. When they made their vows of “for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer,” they meant them. Now couples don’t seem to take them to heart, Liz noted.

While there is no formula for a successful marriage, Paul advises young couples not to get in a fight right away and to learn to iron out their difference.

“Don’t go to bed angry,” Liz said, adding she and Paul always did things together and put their relationship and their children ahead of everything else.

“I came to Glendive and didn’t know a soul. I married a Geiger and suddenly was related to threequarters of the town,”
Paul Winhofer

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