By Julie Ann Madden
He was 19 when one of his former high school classmates asked him to go to church with him.
Little did Bob Vreugdenhil know that he’d meet the love of his life there.
“Charlie and I ran around together,” said Bob, “so I went to adult confirmation classes at Grace Lutheran Church in Le Mars with him.”
He noticed that “cute little girl” right away he told The Akron Hometowner. The 16-year-old’s mother also impressed him.
“We just kind of looked at each other for a while,” said Sally, adding Bob knew her just a couple of dates when he brought her a box of Valentine’s Day candy — they started dating right before Valentine’s Day in 1950.
Another time he brought her a comb, mirror and brush set. But, Sally didn’t get him anything for Valentine’s Day.
“He was a nice looking handsome guy,” said Sally but she doesn’t remember what really intrigued her about him.
Sometimes they went to the drive-in theater in Sioux City but they also attended the young adults’ Walter League meetings and other activities at their church.
They’d been dating about two years when he popped the question while they were sitting in his car at the end of a date.
“I’d been sort of expecting it,” said Sally.
Bob gave her a ring for a high school graduation present.
They were married Nov. 23, 1952 at Grace Lutheran Church in Le Mars.
“We didn’t have nothing,” said Sally about wedding preparations. She wore a suit.
“We didn’t invite people to the wedding,” she said, adding they had a small reception afterwards.
“We didn’t want nobody to come,” said Bob, “but they did anyway.”
Bob had been drafted into the U.S. Army and two weeks later, he went overseas, serving in Japan during the Korean War.
“So I was a widow already — for almost two years,” said Sally, adding she lived with her parents and worked for a lady in her home.
When Bob returned, they stayed with his parents a short while, then moved across the road for a couple of years. He farmed, just south of Ruble, with his mother, who had a half section of land and he had a quarter section.
“Sally’s helped me a lot,” said Bob. “She’s a good cook, too.”
Then the couple purchased a 182-acre farm in South Dakota where they raised three children: Jean and her husband, Rev. Scott Lemmann of Raytown, Mo.; Charles and his wife, Marlys of Akron; and Janet and her husband, Craig Knutson of Mitchell, S.D.
They celebrated their 60th anniversary during the 2012 Christmas holiday with all their children home. In addition to their three children, they now have nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and another on the way.
In January of this year, Bob fell and broke his leg, resulting in a stay at the Akron Care Center for therapy.
“It’s been a good life,” said Sally. “We never did too much for pleasure until we almost got too old.”
“Then we went fishing out on the Missouri River above Chamberlain, S.D.,” she added.
Both credit their faith and church involvement as the success of their marriage. Both have served on several church boards and committees at Peace Lutheran Church in Alcester, S.D.
Their advice to young couples is “Don’t give up so easy. You’ve got to go with the flow.”
Also, be truthful to your spouse and don’t go out on a limb — with honesty or financially.
Although he made sure she had a gift that first Valentine’s Day, he hasn’t bought her any boxes of candy since but every once and awhile he gets her a rose.
This Valentine’s Day, they plan on spending the day together — the most important part of any day.