Local couple Dick and Mary Schneider are celebrating 60 years together this week.
The Parkerfield residents met in Michigan, Mary’s home state, in 1955.
“We met at a USO dance,” Mary said in an interview Wednesday. “I was a hostess. We’d go there and play ping pong or cards.”
The United Service Organizations Inc. (USO) is a nonprofit organization that provides entertainment and other programming to members of the United States armed forces and their families.
Dick was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.
“I was either going to (join voluntarily or) get drafted and I wouldn’t have a choice,” he said. “My brother was in the Air Force.”
Dick and his two brothers all served in the Air Force, as well as Dick’s oldest son, Mark.
It was not love at first sight, according to the couple. They dated for around a year.
“Just before I left for Korea, we got engaged,” said Dick Schneider.
He spent a year in Korea and when he came back, he was stationed in another city.
“I drove back and forth to see her,” he said. “We were engaged — it’s what you did.”
Their wedding was postponed briefly because Mary’s mother was pregnant with her youngest sibling at the time.
“She refused to walk down the aisle,” Mary said, laughing.
Once the Schneiders were married, Dick took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled at the University of Minnesota.
During their four years on campus, they had three children — all girls.
After graduating with a degree in journalism, Dick worked in the field of his study for a while.
He and Mary had two more children after he graduated, a boy and another girl.
But it was his employment in sales with Greif Bros. that brought Dick to Strother Field and the Schneiders to Arkansas City.
Their youngest boy, David, was born in Ponca City, Oklahoma.
The family now stretches across several states, with 15 grandchildren and more than 11 great-grandchildren.
“Every month, there’s a birthday or two,” Mary said. “They’re spread all over,” Dick said.
The Schneiders’ 60th anniversary plans are somewhat unconventional — Dick will be preparing for a colonoscopy April 27.
“I’ve had one done every year since my mother passed,” he said.
She died of colon cancer, so he has taken a proactive approach to his health.
“What I really, really wanted was for all the kids to get together,” Mary said.
But the couple will be celebrating quietly instead with one of their daughters and her husband during the weekend.
Married life lessons
Mary Schneider, in particular, has some words of wisdom for generations to come about having a healthy marriage.
“My idea is you can’t hold on to anger,” she said. “You have to accept each other’s moods.”
“Let it roll off. I don’t know how many times I threatened to run away and leave him with the children,” Mary added, laughing.
“We’ve had an interesting life,” Dick admitted.
“Time goes so quickly,” Mary said. “You go through bad times, but you do things together — that helps.”
“We both belong to the Early Birds Lions Club,” Dick said.
They agreed that their faith in God is central to their happiness, as well.