by Steve Guntli
Rodney and Louise Jungquist snuggled up close for a photograph on their small covered porch.
“How are you doing, kiddo?” Rodney asked, and as he and his wife looked into each other’s eyes, you could still see the hopeful young couple from the faded black-and-white photograph on their kitchen counter; the one that started their adventure together back in 1944.The Jungquists are preparing to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. It’s a momentous milestone, but the Jungquists weren’t even planning on having a party.
The Jungquists will be holding their anniversary party at the community lodge located in the center of Latitude 49, the Birch Bay resort community where they live. Gail Oldow, a friend who is helping the Jungquists’ children plan the event, expects anywhere from 60 to 70 people to be in attendance.
“They’re just the best couple,” Oldow said. “Very sweet and loving after all this time.”
Rodney and Louise both grew up in Washington, in Whatcom and Skagit counties. The two first met at a USO dance in 1942.
“I tapped her on the shoulder for a dance, and the rest was history,” Rodney said.
Rodney was enlisted in the ROTC at Washington State College, and his unit had been called up to serve in World War II. Rodney left school and went into training at a camp in Bend, Oregon.
On October 24, 1944, Rodney and Louise were married, when Rodney was 21 and Louise was 19. The very next day, Rodney shipped out. His unit spent a year building huts and shelters in bombed-out parts of London after the blitz. In the meantime, Louise was back home, working as an assistant in a doctor’s office.
Rodney returned and finished his degree using the GI Bill, only he changed the focus of his study from engineering to teaching. In 1949, he got a job as a math teacher and basketball coach at Meridian High School in Bellingham, a job he held until 1953.
Rodney and Louise moved around a bit after that, eventually settling in Toledo, Ohio, where they lived for 29 years. Rodney worked as the manager of a transport van company, which shipped cargo all over the Midwest. During that time, they had three children, who eventually gave them six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
“The great-grandchildren are getting to be that age; we could see great-greats within the next few years,” Louise said. In 1996, the Jungquists moved back to Washington to enjoy their retirement. They’ve settled into a cozy little home in the Latitude 49 resort community in Birch Bay. The couple still stays active any way they can. At 91 and 89, respectively, Rodney and Louise can both still drive, and they stay close with some of the other people in their community.
“This is really a terrific community,” Rodney said. “At our age, I don’t know that we could live as easily as we do anywhere else. There’s a support network in place here. If we’re ever in trouble, a neighbor can be here in 15 seconds flat to help out.”
Building a marriage that spans seven decades, five wars and 13 presidents is an impressive feat, and the Jungquists say the key is compromise.
“It’s not easy,” Rodney said. “You really have to know the other person and accept them, completely. I don’t think we ever had a night where we were going to bed and we didn’t say, ‘Goodnight, I love you.’ You can’t go to bed mad, and you can’t be right about everything all the time.”
As the couple prepares for their latest anniversary party, with its collection of guests ranging from family members to Rodney’s former students, the pair has no regrets.
“What do you say, Rod, would you want to do it again?” Louise asked her husband.
“Sure,” Rodney said without pause.