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Love Is in the Air

January 31, 2019

It’s February and we’re feeling the love at our Cassia communities! There are so many residents with great love stories, we thought we’d share a few to warm your heart. We loved reminiscing with each of the couples, hearing their humor, learning of their commitment to the relationship and seeing their love for each other. 

Esther and Lester Ruis, Country Meadows of Milaca

AC_Love_Stories-Lester__Esther_Ruis_2.jpgEsther and Lester Ruis enjoyed a six-month engagement before getting married on October 25, 1946. That is 72 years for all of you counting on your fingers and toes! They met at their church where they we both part of the Young People Society at the tender ages of 16 and 18. They waited until Esther was 18 (and Lester was 21) before they wed so she could sign her own marriage license!

When they began dating, they kept their relationship “on the sly” and waited to make it official until Lester got out of the service in ‘46. The year 1946 was a big year for weddings at their church – over 30 couples got married that year in the same church, by the same Pastor and they were all young men who had just returned from the service, coming home to marry their sweethearts.

Esther and Lester have a wonderful life together. They have 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandkids! When asked their secret to a long marriage, Esther replied “Give and take” and Lester said “give in!” with a smile and a giggle! They both still believe in the commitment they made to each other and to God to stay together.

It was a joy to talk with the Ruises and learn their story, shared Halle Bolduc of Country Meadows. “There were SO MANY laughs and memories shared during our conversation – we all loved chatting!”


Bill and Arlene Gibbon – The Regent of Burnsville

Bill_Arlene_2.jpgBill Gibbon shares a snippet of his love story with Arlene:

I was a young widower who was left with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old to raise by myself, with no close relatives to help. One time after church, a casual acquaintance approached me and asked if I dated. What with juggling a job and caring for 2 small kids, the last thing I had on my mind was dating. He said he knew someone who he wanted me to meet. Well, I don’t object to meeting people, so I agreed. I certainly had not thought of remarrying.

The date was arranged with other friends, and at the end of the evening, I told Arlene that this was the most enjoyable evening I had had in a very long time, and I hoped to see her again. We began seeing each other more often, and our friendship turned into affection. I never felt that my feeling was motivated by a need to provide my children with a new mother. I was getting along very well with them as a hands-on father, from diapering to bed time stories and everything in between. The warm relationship I had with them did not need improving, So, I fell genuinely in love with Arlene, and the rest is history.


Mark and Catherine Sederquist, Country Meadows of Milaca

AC_Love_Stories-Mark__Catherine_Sederquist.jpgWhen Halle Bolduc of Country Meadows first met with the Sederquists, she began by asking about their love story. Mark immediately said, with a stone serious face, “she just fell head over heels in love with me in high school and that was the end of it!” Mark followed his statement with a big grin and a wink. Catherine’s response was “I asked Mark to the Sadie Hawkins dance during my Sophomore year of high school and we’ve pretty much been together ever since!”

Mark was in aviation training in the service. When he was home Christmas in 1954, they decided they didn’t want to wait any longer, so on a whim they got married while he was home on leave. Mark and Catherine were engaged for three years before getting married on December 20, 1954 – 64 years of wedded bliss, and still going strong! They weren’t allowed to be married according to the Army, so they didn’t say anything and since the Army didn’t know about their marriage, they had to live long distance for some time.

While Mark was in the service and attending college, Catherine was also going to college and gave birth to two kids. In total they have 3 kids, 7 grandkids and 3 great-grandkids. When asked their secret to a long marriage, Mark laughed and said “we were too poor to get a divorce!” He giggled over that for a moment, then said in all seriousness, “we made a commitment to stay together before God and everybody. And, she is a marvelous cook and that helps!”


Don and June Rensenbrink – Elim Care and Rehab Center, Milaca

Don_June_Rensenbrink2.pngThis photo of Don and June Rensenbrink was taken in 2018 at a party celebrating their 52nd anniversary. Enjoy their sweet story written by June: 

Mutual friends introduced Don and me in the fall of 1964, when he was 32 and I was 28. We were just starting graduate school at the same university after we had been teaching several years. I was tired of blind dates! But as my friend’s husband escorted him to my door, I thought, “This could be different.” I soon learned that he would love to attend “The Messiah” with me; imagine my surprise that here was a farm boy who liked classical music! What a special day that was.

We have been married for fifty-two happy years. I have not always received my valentines on Valentine’s Day. This one I found on my kitchen counter after he had left for a short business trip. It is a quotation from Shakespeare:

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising
Haply I think of thee, and then my state,
Like to the break of day arising 
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings!”


Isabelle and Valentine Vetter – Baptist Health Care Center

Isabelle_Valentine_-_Love_Stories.JPGAnd last, but not least. Here is the love story of Isabelle and Valentine as told to Shelle Aberle. Yes, his name is Valentine – perfect for this holiday of love! 

The Real Valentine

The love story started before the Korean War at a dance hall in Linton, ND. Every weekend, Isabelle and Valentine would share laughter while dancing the two-step, polka and waltz with each other. Was it love at first sight? Isabelle laughs and says, “No.” Valentine disagrees and says she absolutely fell in love with him immediately!

Isabelle was not sure that she was going to wait for Valentine to come home from the war, she said it was a long time. He agrees, he was in Korea for fifty months and three days. But Isabelle stayed the course and wrote to her Valentine once a week. She chuckled remembering the first letter from him was a card of a little old lady in a rocking chair. She planned to save the card and send it back to him, but never did. 

Isabelle and Valentine have been married for 63 years and have 4 children together. They moved to Bismarck soon after they got married and still attended dances every Saturday night at the Moose or the Elks Clubs, up until four or five years ago when Isabelle could no longer stand alone. 

Isabelle resides at the Baptist Health Care Center and Valentine visits her 4 days a week. He says the dancing may be over, but the memories will live forever, besides he notes, “kids now days just jump around to the music, often by themselves, and they never hold their woman in their arms. That is real dancing, holding a woman in your arms.” Isabelle smiled and agreed that her memories of dancing are still very special, as special as her very own Valentine.