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April 27, 2004

50 Years: Time passes too fast when you’re having fun

In the month of May 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower was serving his first term as President of the United States; Sen. Joe McCarthy was involved in hearings about alleged Communists in the U.S. government; the Supreme Court banned segregation in public schools; Perry had a pretty good semi-professional baseball team with Joe Ripley as manager; Laura Thomas was settling into her new position as medical technologist at Perry Memorial Hospital; Fred G. Beers was writing a column called the Northwest Corner at The Perry Daily Journal, where he was managing editor; and Dr. Bill Simon, M.D., may have been considering a second career as matchmaker because Fred and Laura, both young singles, prepared to get married after becoming acquainted at the prompting of Dr. Simon and Frankie Stoltenberg, a receptionist at the Perry hospital. And, on May 2, Fred and Laura became husband and wife. Some said it wouldn't last. Ha!

Fifty years later, here we are, getting ready for a golden anniversary celebration. It's trite but true: Time passes too fast when you're having fun. In some ways, it seems that wedding ceremony was just the other day, but the calendar doesn't lie. We have experienced both highs and lows over the route to this destination, but some things do not change; they only get better. That's what this slice of life has been for us. Overall, we have been richly blessed in many ways. For instance, two extraordinarily gifted and beautiful daughters, plus their handsome and noble husbands and the four grandchildren those wonderful couples have produced. We have had the privilege of doing a bit of traveling to see some of the things we used to dream about. Laura was something of a trailblazer in her profession after graduating from Baylor University with a degree in an unrelated field, and I had the great pleasure of serving with some able craftsmen and women in rewarding jobs while with the Army in World War II, then at The Perry Daily Journal and finally at the Ditch Witch factory (the Charles Machine Works, Inc. in formal terms). Life has been good for us, all in all, and to think — this is really only the beginning.

I want to say publicly that I freely give the credit for all this to Laura. We firmly believe that our meeting was part of a divine plan rather than a coincidence, and many of the joys we have experienced since then also were predestined. You understand, we attend the Presbyterian Church and some of our philosophy probably has been influenced by lessons we have learned there. But again, Laura has been the mainstay through our life together. She reared our children while I worked during the day and spent most nights of the week covering various meetings of a civic nature for this newspaper, and I thank her proudly now for the way she has performed, sometimes under adverse conditions.

So, for the record, our wedding on May 2, 1954, in the Baptist Temple at Oklahoma City, is being celebrated again for the 50th time, and it is a milestone that makes us very proud. Our daughters and our sons-in-law are arranging a reception on Saturday afternoon, May 1, in the Presbyterian Church Parlor and Fellowship Hall. You are invited to attend. If you are so inclined, good wishes are always welcome, but that will be more than enough. Please, no gifts, just come to the reception and give us a hug.