Thanksgiving for My Parent’s 67th Anniversary

My parents, Elmer and Jean, are 90 and 91 years-old respectively and this coming Saturday, they will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary. Until she became blind, my mother faithfully took photographs with her much-loved Brownie camera and kept them in scrapbooks for our family. She and my father also had their picture taken on each of their wedding anniversaries  — often with that same old camera. 

I will be taking their photograph this week and adding it to their ongoing wedding album. To me, these 66 photographs show more than the aging of a couple. They mark events in their lives and in mine.

My parents left their wedding in a car that my dad had bought for $150. They couldn’t drive at night because the headlights didn’t work. They were headed West from their family homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in 1943 with no jobs and no real idea of where they might settle.

They ended up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, then moved on to Los Angeles, only to return to Colorado where my older brother, George, and sister, Alice, were born. From there, they moved to Arizona where I arrived. My father, who had purchased his own small business, decided that he was being “called” to enter the ministry and my mother suddenly became a minister’s wife. Together, they served at their first church in Buffalo, Oklahoma.

We moved to Pueblo, Colorado, then on to Burlington, Colorado, where health problems (dust storms) caused us to move to Fowler, Colorado. My sister died in a car accident and is buried there.

The anniversary photographs show it all — the young couple starting out, the children, even the pets. They mark achievements and sorrows. In one photograph, a daughter-in-law appears only to leave later in a divorce. In others, there are photographs of my grandmother who lived with my parents more than two decades before she died at age 93. Still other photographs show a grandchild.

More communities and churches — in Santa Fe, New Mexico; Cheney, Kansas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and finally Spearfish, South Dakota, where my parents retired and lived for 26 years. My brother was a college professor there.

There were 12 trips to Europe, including adventures in Ireland and Scotland, home to their forefathers. They were snowbirds for eleven years escaping from the harsh winters in the Dakotas to Lakeland, Florida.

Last year, they moved for what they hope is their final time, arriving in Fairfax County, Virginia, to live with Patti and me.

No one can adequately describe another person’s life. Nor can anyone really know how their life has impacted those they have encountered. But I know how important my parents have been to me and I am grateful that they fell in love more than 67 years ago, decided to have children, and still are in love today.

That’s a remarkable achievement.

And yes, my father still gives me advice and, occasionally, I listen.

I only hope they will forgive me for sharing these anniversary photographs with you without asking because I know they would be too modest to want them on display.   

Click here to see all of them on one page.

Click here to see a slide show.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. My favorite aunt and uncle will celebrate 67 yrs of marriage on this Thanksgiving Day! The pictorial history is the best! I enjoyed both the articles and the pictures. I just had to share your article to my twitter and facebook followers! I plan on interviewing my aunt and uncle on Thanksgiving Day for my BTR show. If you care to listen in call up 347-202-0079, Search BTR for the time… Thanks for a great refreshing article!

  2. Congratulations for such a wonderful story!! How many people can celebrate such ocassion??? 67 years of love???

  3. Richard Steinmeyer says

    Our friendship with Jean and Elmer has been a HIGH LIght in our lives here in the Spearfish area….We pray God’s blessings for them as they continue on this earthly journey together. Love Richard and Ann We were going to call you today but we do not have your phone number…..

  4. Valentina Bacci says

    I know a friendly and warm couple in Orlando Fl. (Bill and Jean).
    They’ll be celebrating their 67 anniversary as well tomorrow, Dec. 10/2010. Amazing lives, with also a lot of traveling and great histories…
    I enjoyed reading the story about your parents and finding so many coincidences with these other couple, …both ladies named Jean, to begin with!