Couple of ‘lovebugs’ celebrate 70 years of marriage

Scott Swanson

Joe Gallipeau was in the U.S. Navy in 1945, living in San Diego, Calif., when his neighbor introduced him to a young lady who had moved in across the street to take care of her brother and nephew.

The rest is history – 70 years of it, as Joe and his wife Lu cele-brated their 70th wedding anniversary this month. The festivities included a party last week with the Red Hat Society, of which Lu and their daughter, Sheran Dotson, are members.

It’s been a union based on mutual respect and “tenderness,” said Dotson, a Sweet Home resident.

Joe, who turned 91 this month, grew up in Newport, R.I., and joined the Navy, in which he served 22 years. Lu, who turned 90 earlier this month, is from Warrensburg, Mo.

Joe said they met when “I had to cross the street one day and somebody introduced us.”

They were married Feb. 11, 1946.

Although Joe spent much of the following years at sea, the family stayed in San Diego for the most part – “for stability,” Dotson said. Two of the children were born in San Diego, one in Virginia and one in the Panama Canal zone.

“Mom raised four children, basically single-handedly,” she said.

In addition to handling the family, she also sold Avon, Tupperware and Chem-Dry products along the way, and did embroidery.

“She was mostly a homemaker,” Dotson said. “Dad was a good dad all along, but Mom did most of the child-rearing. She kept us on the straight and narrow.”

Joe served in World War II, the Korean War and in Vietnam before retiring, with stops in the Philippines, Panama and Australia.

He liked the Navy.

“It’s a life that kids should go into because it prepares them for what they’re going to face in life when they get out of the service,” he said.

After he retired from the Navy, Joe worked as a handyman for Sears, Techtronics and other firms, including garden shops and in landscaping. Both volunteered in Upward Bound camps and at a camp for disabled children.

They moved to Sweet Home some 22 years ago.

“I think Dad just wanted to get out of California,” Dotson said.

She said the secret to their many years of wedded bliss is simple: “They’re about the most tender couple you’re ever going to find. They both have a real strong faith in Jesus Christ and they have so much love for each other. They want to serve each other all the time.

“She says, ‘Daddy do,’ and he says ‘OK, Dear.’ They’re such love bugs.”

When Joe needs some quiet time, he goes to his shop, she said.

The Gallipeaus have a poster in their home created by disabled campers with whom they once volunteered.

“They said, ‘It’s never hard to draw Grandpa,’ Dotson said. “‘You just draw him with love. No matter how you interpret Grandma, it’s always with a smile.’

“Generally speaking, I just think you’ve got two gems of great individuals here.”