Ray and Ruth Ewalt of Harmony recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 9 with a card shower that brought them many cherished greetings.
Ray and Ruth Ewalt of Harmony recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Jan. 9 with a card shower that brought them many cherished greetings.
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On Tuesday, Ray and Ruth Ewalt of Harmony will celebrate their 70th Valentine's Day as a married couple. The two were married on Jan. 9, 1942, and have spent the past 70 years in a marriage filled with not only love, but mutual respect and understanding.

According to Ruth, the secret of their enduring marriage has been patience and caring about what each other feels and says.

"We had hard times, but we agreed about how we were to deal with things," she said. "We had the same attitude. Instead of getting all grumpy about things, we'd figure something out."

The couple began their lives together by renting a small home in Harmony. They eventually bought another home in the community where they raised two daughters. In October of this past year, the couple moved into the Harmony Healthcare Center, when Ruth became ill and needed constant care. The two share a small room in the care center, 70 years after beginning their marriage, still relying on each other.

The beginning

Ruth, the daughter of John and Louise Anstett of Preston, met Ray one night at the bowling alley in Preston. She said that he courted her over the next few years and they enjoyed going to movie theaters in the local communities as well as continued to bowl.

She said that she knew Ray was "the one" because he was always nice to her. "He even let me drive his car," she said with a smile. "It was new and I almost wrecked it, but he didn't get mad or excited about it."

Their wedding was a simple one, she wore a long white gown and he a nice suit. It was a cold day with temperatures dropping to 16-below-zero and there was lots of snow, Ruth remembered.

"We went to my aunt's house after the ceremony and I changed out of my dress and we drove to La Crosse to spend the night for our honeymoon," she added.

Because it was wartime, Ruth said things were hard at first and Ray worked at an oil station in Harmony until enlisting in the Army. While he was stateside, she traveled to where he was stationed to be near him, including the states of Missouri, Texas and Washington. She returned home to Harmony when he was sent overseas.

As he toured with the Army Engineers throughout Europe, including the countries of France and Germany, Ruth began her teaching career in the country schools of Fillmore County. She spent time teaching in Oak Grove, Dutch Hollow, Vail, Brokken, Henrytown and Wilton Center, among others.

Ruth said she was a capable woman who could change tires and fix things. "We had to do a lot for ourselves when our husbands were off fighting the war," she said. "I became an independent woman."

However, when Ray returned in the summer for a furlough before being sent to Japan, she was thrilled to be able to keep him home when the war in Japan ended. He was honorably discharged and the couple resumed their days as a married couple, even through hard times.

A life in Harmony

The Ewalts had two children born to their union. Their first daughter, Connie, was born in 1946 and their second daughter, Shelley, followed in 1954.

Ruth continued to teach school and Ray worked in several positions in town, including running Ewalt Hardware with his family and farming 80 acres, located east of Harmony. He drove a school bus for many years in Harmony and continued subbing for other drivers long after he retired.

"Times were hard. Money was short," Ruth said. "But we agreed to be kind, to be thoughtful and gracious in every incident that happened. You have to be decent about it."

The couple took lots of trips through the years, including 10 with Dave Zimmer, who both agreed was an exceptional tour guide who showed them a great deal of the country. "We've been all over the states," Ruth said. She added that she and Ray would often seek out the "road less traveled" and many may think that some of their destinations - like an underground missile - were a bit odd.

"We liked to go places where we could learn something and sought out places beyond where other people would stop," she added.

Retirement

After retiring from teaching, Ruth continued to substitute for a period of time and remembers her students with fondness. However, she claims that she could never choose a favorite class as each one had its "stinkers."

She said she and Ray made a lot of good friends in Harmony, many fellow teachers, and noted that while they traveled a lot, they never considered moving away from Harmony. It was always their home and will continue to be their home.

The Ewalts have seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren and are grateful for their daughters and to the community that helped them celebrate their 70th anniversary in January. A card shower was held and the Ewalts received over 40 cards, which Ruth said are being kept and cherished.

Enduring love

When asked what Ray loves about Ruth now, he simply said, "About everything." A man of few words, Ray spoke the ones that continued to make Ruth smile.

In return, Ruth shared that she continues to rely on Ray for his strength and he helps pull her oxygen tank down the halls of the care center as she makes her way with a walker. It's the simple, gentle things that each one does for the other that exemplifies a love that has endured for seven decades.

"It's confidence and caring," Ruth concluded. "We always respected each other and we gave each other time to work things out. Many people today are too eager to throw in the towel. If they would just give themselves time to think, they may realize it's their towel that's being thrown away."