Crawford: Two couples celebrate 70th double wedding anniversary

Published: Nov. 13, 2016 at 11:03 PM CST
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Two couples are celebrating their 70th anniversary after sharing a double wedding in 1946.

Two sisters from Crawford, Helene and Margaret Shulte, met cousins Ira Gohlke and Ray Westerfeld at a barn dance in their teen years.

"I was a senior, and she was just a sophomore, I wasn't going to pay no mind to her," Ray Westerfeld said.

Helene Westerfeld cut in, "And then we danced, and that was it."

When World War II began, the two men were drafted into the U.S. Army. They were both honorably discharged in the summer of 1946. After returning home, they proposed to the Schulte sisters.

"We were sisters and we had always double dated. They were going to get married and we were getting married so we decided to do a double wedding," Helene Westerfeld said.

They had a double wedding ceremony at the Zion Lutheran Church in McGregor on November 14, 1946. They have been inseparable since.

Helene and Ray's son, Dale Westerfeld said,"They raised their kids together, so we were all one big family in so many ways."

The two couples spent their life farming in the Crawford-McGregor-Lorena areas, and they live just a few miles from each other. They were very involved in the community, volunteering on church councils, school boards, and helping build the Crawford Community Center, the same building they held their 70th wedding anniversary celebration.

All four were born between 1925 and 1928, so they grew up during the Great Depression. They explained how dancing kept their spirits up.

"They tore down a barn and turned it into a dance floor. A lot of it revolved around dancing, they loved to go out on a Saturday night," Westerfeld said.

During WWII, they would keep in touch by writing letters and sending each other packages.

Margaret Gohlke said, "I would send him letters and packages of cookies. It would take so long to get there, by the time it got there, it would all be crumbs, but they enjoyed it."

Combined, the two married couples have 6 sons, 14 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren. Dozens of family and friends helped the couples celebrate the special milestone Sunday afternoon.

"You don't see it very often for a 70th wedding anniversary, much less a double 70th, and much less when they've lived their lives together so much," Dale Westerfeld said.