A love that endures

Two local couples married for 60 years and longer share their stories of success

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“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”

This verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 is often heard quoted during wedding ceremonies. But with so many marriages ending in divorce, sometimes people question how seriously the words are taken. But then there are the couples for whom love has endured throughout the decades: Through wars, child rearing, recessions, illnesses and all the other inevitable twists and turns that life can take.

This Valentine’s Day, the Post-Record is featuring two longtime married couples who share some of the secrets to their success.

Warren and Celia Lougheed

Ages: 90 and 87

Reside in: Camas

Family: Two sons, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Wedding date: Jan. 9, 1945.

How they met: At a downtown Vancouver shipyard in 1943. Celia did secretarial work, and Warren, or “Skip” as he is known, was a forklift operator.

What they remember about the first time they met: “I was unloading stuff and I looked up and saw this cute little chick through the glass typing away,” Warren said. “On my way home that night, I was headed home to Mcloughlin Heights, and she was walking up Harney Hill. I stopped and asked if she wanted a ride, and she stuck her nose in the air and said, ‘no thanks.'”

Celia said it was because during World War II, “If you were young and single, you’d have strange men offering you a ride all the time,” she said. “I thought it was better just to walk.”

Not easily dissuaded, Warren found out more about Celia by talking to her friend Helen, who happened to be his neighbor.

“She told me that they were planning to walk to the Mission Theater that night to see a movie, and if I worked it right, I would be able to give them a ride.”

So, Warren timed his drive for precisely when the girls were headed to the movie, and offered to give them a lift.

“Helen jumped right in the car,” he said, then looked at his wife. “You did, too.”

Their wedding day: After some disagreement about where and when the wedding would take place, Celia and Warren decided to go the route of countless couples before and after them: Elope.

They left work one day without permission and headed to Idaho, where there was no waiting period to obtain a marriage license.

But their wedding night was anything but romantic: The couple ended up dodging a state patrol car after Warren hit the gas a little hard on the highway near Arlington, Ore.

“He was driving a little too fast,” Celia said. “But the officer never found us.”

And that wasn’t the end of the adventure. Warren’s car ended up with a flat tire, so the newlyweds spent their first night together at a gas station in Rufus, Ore., waiting for it to open so they could change the tire.

“I know I must have been thinking, ‘Maybe this wasn’t such a great idea,'” Celia joked.

And the adventure wasn’t over: When the newlyweds returned home, they both discovered they’d been fired from the shipyard for leaving without permission.

But both soon found work elsewhere.

“Leaving like that was probably a dumb thing to do, but it wasn’t the only dumb thing we did,” Warren said.

They also had to break the news to their families.

“My parents were kind of surprised,” Celia said.

Where they spent their younger years: Living and working in Camas. Warren was a bus driver and custodian for the Camas School District, and Celia was a receptionist at several of the elementary and middle schools. He retired in 1981, she in 1982.

“Warren retired in September, and he used to wave at me from the window while I was leaving from work,” she said. “Then one day there was a snowstorm and I was thinking, ‘I could be here until July!’ That’s when I decided to retire.”

Their hobbies: “We liked to travel a lot and camp,” Warren said.

“Yes, we went to Arizona every winter after we retired,” Celia added. “This is only the second year we haven’t gone.”

Secrets to a long term marriage: “You can’t carry grudges,” Celia said. “And there should be no name calling.”

“We had a lot of common interests, and our likes and dislikes were pretty much the same,” Warren said.

Their advice to newlyweds: “Stay the course,” Celia said. “Too often anymore, people don’t try to solve their problems. We have had our disagreements over the years, but not too many.”

Warren nodded his head in agreement.

“Her parents also helped our marriage,” he said. “They were fantastic. I was kind of knocked around as a kid, and when I married into this family, it was like starting over with a new one.”

Douglas and Barbara Espinosa

Ages: 79 and 77.

Reside in: Camas

Family: Three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Wedding date: Jan. 12, 1951.

How they met: At a mutual friend’s house in Orchards. Douglas loved to work on cars, and Barbara was there with a friend.

“I saw her and thought, ‘She’s pretty cute. I’ll take that one,” he joked.

As it turned out, the girls needed a ride home and Douglas and his friend had already talked about doing just that.

“When we got to my friend’s house, Doug jumped right in the back seat and sat next to me,” Barbara recalled.

It was love at first sight: The two went to see a movie and get a burger. Six months later, they were married.

Their wedding day: They were married at their minister’s home in Vancouver, right near the courthouse. At the time, Douglas worked the swing shift for Crown Zellerbach in Camas. Soon, he joined the Army and was stationed in North Carolina for two years.

Where they spent their younger years: The Oak Park and Pumpkin Ridge areas in and around Camas. Soon after, they moved out to a farm in Fern Prairie, where they have lived for the past 48 years. Barbara is a homemaker, and Warren retired in 1992.

Secrets to a long-term marriage: “Love, humor and patience, all in capital letters,” Barbara said. “And stubbornness and determination.”

“A sense of humor,” Douglas added.

The couple celebrated their recent milestone with a surprise party given by their family.

“It was a marvelous day,” Barbara said.

Douglas, who has Multiple System Atrophy, a condition that effects motor control, is unable to speak much these days, and Barbara spends her days as his caretaker.

“He took care of me all the time in our younger years, now I get to take care of him,” she said. “He is good to take care of.”

Their advice to newlyweds: “You’re going to have your ups and downs,” Barbara said. “Get over the bad and start again.”

Douglas nodded.

“And have stubbornness and determination,” she added.