Couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

Sean C. Morgan

They said it wouldn’t last, but it did.

Jim and Jerry Mosher will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary in December.

Jim was a sophomore and Jerry a freshman at Sweet Home High School when they started dating. They’ve been together ever since, marrying Dec. 23, 1946, the year Jerry, then 18, graduated from high school. Jim, then 19, had been in the Navy for more than a year.

“I was just a little bit stubborn,” Jim said. “They said it’ll never last. You’re too young.”

They were married at the First Christian Church in Vancouver, Wash., Jim said. At the time, Oregon required a blood test prior to marriage. Washington didn’t, and serving in the military, he didn’t have the three days a blood test would take.

“That was where a lot of people got married,” Jerry said. During the war, people didn’t always have three days available to get married.

Jim was born in Sedro-Woolley, Wash., east of Burlington and north of Seattle.

“He moved to Sweet Home when he was 14,” Jerry said. “I lived in Sweet Home (area) all but four years of my life.”

Her father worked in a sawmill and in the woods. He died working in the woods when she was 13. A descendant of the Horner family, Jerry’s mother was born in Sweet Home. Her grandparents owned and operated a hotel where Sweet Home Inn is located.

“My dad was a logger,” Jim said. The company he worked for was getting low on timber in Washington and bought some land in the Sweet Home area, so his family moved to Sweet Home.

“I was a freshman,” she said. “He was a sophomore. We started dating about halfway through the year.”

When Jim graduated, he joined the Navy.

“He still had two years to go when we got married,” Jerry said. “This was war time. There weren’t that many men and boys or anything.”

But she found one and hung on, and they got along really well.

“We always could agree about things,” she said.

“She straightened me out,” Jim said. He had started smoking at age 15, but she told him she wouldn’t date him if smoked. He quit after three or four months.

When they married, Jerry went with Jim to Long Beach and San Diego, Calif.

“That was a big change for somebody from Sweet Home,” Jerry said.

“We couldn’t get back here fast enough after my discharge,” Jim said. “When I got discharged, we loaded up as fast as we could and came up here. We wanted to see some trees.”

He went to work at Santiam Lumber, a Willamette Industries sawmill, located north of Bi-Mart. He was there for 11 years, working in the retail yard. When it closed down, he stayed on to work for the next business, Harlan’s Building Supply.

When the spotted owl became an issue, the business sold and moved, becoming Midway Building Supply; and he continued working there.

Jerry stayed at home to rear five children. When her youngest was about 8 years old, she went to work for Elliott Real Estate, keeping books and working around the office. She had worked there for 24 years when she retired.

They raised five children, including the late Joyce Walls, their oldest; JoAnne Gifford; Allan Mosher; Linda McNelley; and Patty Dale, their youngest. They have eight grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter. Two other great-great-grandchildren are deceased.

Their family celebrated their anniversary early on Oct. 22 at the Twin Cedars Mobile Home Park in Lebanon. Sixty-eight attended, everyone but a single granddaughter, who had just taken a new job and couldn’t make it. Family members joined them from multiple states, including Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Washington.

The Moshers shared the secret to their incredibly long marriage.

Jerry always told him that if he ever left, “he had to take the kids with him.”

“I just learned to say, yes, dear,” Jim said.

More seriously, Jim said, it used to be, “you had to have a real good reason to get a divorce.”

Even so, they stayed together many years after the rules governing divorce eased.

“We usually pretty much wanted to do the same things,” Jerry said.

When they do find disagreements, they leave each other alone until they get over it.

“We never heard them say a cross word to each other,” Dale said of her parents.

It’s worked for them for 70 years.

“I can always depend on him,” Jerry said. “I know how he’s going to react. After 70 years, you can pretty much predict what the other one’s going to say.”