Valentines for 60 years
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Art and Eleanor Wagner have been married 60 years as of this past Friday. A commitment to their wedding vows, a realization that marriage is for a lifetime, is the key to their successful union.
Both Art and Eleanor were members of Zion Lutheran Church when they were young. Art’s sister and Eleanor were classmates and Art was older. She was always at his parents’ house, that of Ernest and Bertha Wagner, three miles east of Imperial.
Eleanor’s parents, Emil and Carrie Molzahn, lived four miles north of Imperial. They were both “farm kids” which strengthened their bond.
“I knew who she was,” Art said. Eleanor “just liked being around him.”
When he graduated from Chase County High School, he worked first at the Conoco station, then joined the Chevy garage in 1951. He was also attending a business college in North Platte for two years.
Eleanor was still in high school, then worked at a dime store in Imperial. They dated for four years, marrying in 1950 at the Lutheran church.
Their honeymoon was spent in Grand Island.
Art was a Corporal in the Marine Corps, serving in Korea from January, 1952 to 1954. During that time, Eleanor gave birth to their first son. Art didn’t see him until he was about a year old.
When Art returned to Imperial, he continued working for the Chevy dealership for 24 years. A fellow worker had been a county judge, and asked Art if he would consider being appointed to the seat.
He agreed, and served as Associate County Judge in Chase County for 17 years. At that time, he didn’t have to have a law degree, but had to take training. Art retired from that position in 1994.
While raising four children, Mike, Terry (of Imperial), Timothy and Gina, Eleanor worked at Arnison’s and Colonial Kitchen.
She and Art enjoy gardening and traveling together.
What attracted Art to Eleanor? “She was fun, always is and it seems like we like the same things.”
Eleanor says of Art, “I just like being around him, the familiarity of it.”
Today, the couple spends most of their time together. Art has a woodworking shop south of the house, where he makes cabinets and toys. He and Eleanor used to make all of the 18 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren toys for Christmas.
Both have been very active in Zion Lutheran Church. Art has been on most boards, has been an elder, treasurer, secretary, on the auditing committee and both have taught Sunday School.
What advice would they give to young people planning to marry? Eleanor, 79, said, “Make sure he’s the right one. I hope they’d stay together.”
Art said, “The church is a big part of it. Belong together and take it (marriage) seriously.”
“Commitment, mutual things you like to do together, family,” added Eleanor.
Art said, “Make sure you’re marrying the right person. Go into it with the idea it’s a lifelong commitment and not something you can easily get out of.”
By the way, Art doesn’t forget his anniversary. The couple was married on his birthday. Last Friday, he turned 81, and was anticipating a visit from their children.
“We have some sneaky kids,” he laughed. Last year, he was talking with Gina on the phone, then realized she was at the back door. The other children appeared shortly.