Do you remember the advice you were given before walking down the aisle? Does “don’t go to bed angry” or “learn the art of compromise” sound familiar?
We all aspire to have a partnership that can stand the test of time. Couples who have been married for a significant period of time are always asked the same question: What’s the secret to a happy marriage? Albert and Ruthann Wilson of the Chewiliken Valley must know the answer, as they will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary this year.
Albert and Ruthann met at an young age in Tunk Valley. Both their parents were members of Grange, where the youngsters would play games while the adults were in meetings.
Ruthann moved to the Okanogan Valley from California as a child, and Albert has lived in the region his entire life.
He attended school in Chewiliken, and Tonasket High School for a time before attending Riverside High School with Ruthann at age 16. (Ruthann is three months older than Albert.) Ruthann celebrated her 91st birthday in November 2022, and Albert celebrated his 91st birthday on Feb. 7.
“I bet my cousin $10 I was going to get married that fall, the fall of ‘48,” Albert said in a 2018 interview with The Omak Chronicle. “At our wedding he was there; when he shook hands with me to congratulate me, he gave me a $10 bill.”
Albert said before leaving home, he put a $5 bill in his pocket to pay the preacher. By mistake he handed the preacher the $10 bill.
“I thought so many times I could have used that extra $5,” he said.
The couple was married at the Omak United Methodist Church. Following the ceremony, Albert’s grandfather took the newlyweds out to their first meal at Nichols Cafe, where they had a hot roast pork sandwich that cost 45 cents.
Albert said when he and Ruthann decided to wed, he purchased her an engagement ring from Sears and Roebuck. It costs $32.
Pointing to her finger, Ruthann said it’s worn, but she still wears it.
Throughout the years, the couple have worked a variety of jobs, but focused primarily on the cattle industry.
In the winter of 1949, the couple moved to Albert’s family’s land in the Chewiliken Valley, east of Tonasket. They still live on the property.
Albert purchased his first horse from his dad for $5. Ruthann’s father purchased her sister a wrist watch when she graduated from eighth grade. When her father asked her if she wanted a watch, she said, no, she’d rather have the money to buy a horse.
The couple had six children, including Kathy born in 1949, Steve in 1950, Ron three years later, Mike a year later, Dan six years later and Tiffany 12 years later.
They have numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
Aside from ranching, the Wilsons have been actively involved in community civic groups, including 4-H and superintendents of the Grange building at the Okanogan County Fair. Albert served as Okanogan County Pomona Grange master and also deputy state master of Grange. Church has been an important part of their lives, teaching Sunday school classes and hosting church picnics on their property.
At a young age, they were named Washington State Grange Young Couple of the Year.
The couple said some of their happiest moments have been the births of their children and grandchildren.
To answer the question: What’s the secret to a happy marriage, Albert and Ruthann said working together, through the good times and bad times, is the key to a successful marriage. ♦
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