Fifty Years of Riding the Trails Together

Making it through 50 years of marriage doesn’t happen as often as it use to but we made it. If I sound a bit surprised maybe I should be, when you put 2 strong willed people in the harness together sparks are bound to fly; both in a good way and a bad way.

I’d have to say and I’m sure that my bride would agree with me, that we are not the couple that would tell you, ’50 years of marriage and not a cross word’; are people really that disillusioned or does that actually happen?

At the end of the day though there is little or nothing I’d change about my bride, she’s feisty, strong willed, always headed in a good direction and a perfect fit for me.

In the words of my good friend Bert Landon, ‘I married better than she did’.

Joy her senior year the winter of 1972 eastern Idaho.

We were just kids when we got married. I was fresh out of a 3 year hitch with the Marine Corps and she had recently graduated from high school. Depending on who’s telling the story I might not have asked her to marry me just told her that I knew what she was doing after she graduated; I did ask her dad though. The 3 of us were in her folks kitchen on a Sunday evening the fall of 1971 and she was cooking popcorn when I asked her dad if I could marry his daughter. He looked at her and I’m not sure what he saw when she looked back at him but he said, ‘by all means’. I figured that was a s close to a yes as I was going to get form either of them and the deal was done. All I had to do was survive the most part of a year in Vietnam. It was the fall of 1971 and I was on my second set of orders for ‘Down South’ as Vietnam was referred to.

This was taken the fall of 1971 when were dating, it’s the front steps of my parents house north of Rupert Idaho, the same steps I was standing on the Christmas before when my mom met me at the door with a gun in her hand; kinda glad she didn’t shoot and ask questions later.

I never made it to Vietnam. When I got to Okinawa the staging company at Camp Hansen was looking for a driver and as I had a dual MOS, 0311 grunt and driver they put me to work there. I’ve always had some reservation that I didn’t continue on to Vietnam but I volunteered to join the Marines, volunteering for anything after that was never a good idea. Obeying orders was a good idea though and I was pretty good at that; pretty good, but we are not going to get into that this time.

This was taken the fall of 1971 as well. We are in San Jose California at my Uncle Bob and Aunt LaVonna’s home. Joy rode down with my mom and dad and sister and my grandpa and grandma Spaulding. It’s quite a drive from eastern Idaho. I was able to make it home once more on short notice before shipping out.

Our courtship was rather long distance, however many miles Okinawa is from Idaho Falls Idaho. Letters were a good way to get to know each other better though.

When I made it home we were married in Coltman Idaho September 6th 1972. The following spring my grandpa and grandma Spaulding celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, we could hardly imagine that far into the future but I’m not sure how it could have turned out any better.

There are a lot  of mile stones in 50 years of marriage, first child, graduating from College, both of those happened the same week, occupation, occupation changes, moving, 17 times in as many years, adding more skills to your occupations, death of parents, loved ones and friends.

Joy, my bride and I have always been friends as well as husband and wife, that’s been a blessing and honestly as important as love and commitment are, friendship is every bit as important in a marriage.

Elk Creek above Palisades Reservoir 1973 or 74 on a borrowed horse.


After all of our bouncing around in life from Idaho to Utah, Montana and back to Idaho we settled in Mountain Home Idaho and have been here for the past 33 years.

Lake Louise Canada the summer of 1975; after 3 years  of marriage we had finally saved enough money to go on a Honeymoon. She looks like a 14 year old girl sitting on a rock with Lake Louise as the background but trust me she was all woman; petite as she was.


We came to Mountain Home with an employment opportunity and have stayed on as we have had no where else to go. 

Our 6 children graduated High School from here and a good share of our life long friends are from here. Our children are all married with careers and families of their own and scattered all over the world, the farthest is in Africa at the moment.

Not sure which grandchild this is but I’ve always loved this picture.


Joy has always worked along side of me no matter where we were or what we were doing, that’s just been part  of who we are. If she disagrees with me she will tell me but she doesn’t tell me how to do things; I have been equally as respective to her on such matters as neither of us are good at being bossed around.

Early in my career as a professional pilot I knew that as much as some people, namely the boss and the farmers, would like to tell me how to do my job it wasn’t their place to do so; it is a darned good way to get you killed. Here at Mountain Home Joy and our kids worked beside me to run a Crop Dusting business. It was a lot of crazy hours and wild moments but it was a good way to raise our family. We also ran 50 head of stock cows and a small herd  of horses so all family members were busy. Adding school and church activities everyone stayed out of trouble for the most part.

I’m not sure which one of our kids were getting married and that’s what we were dressed up for but somewhere late 1999 or early 2000.


The years we were Crop Dusting I put my bride through hell and back every summer, not on purpose but it was just the nature of the business. More than one day at 3:45 in the morning as the crew was getting up, eating breakfast and grabbing lunches she was at the helm of things coordinating crew, meals and making sure that all did their part in bringing her husband pilot home at the end of the day. Actually bringing the entire crew home was important to her as quite often the entire crew came from her household. The flying season would start around the first of April and end the later part of September with some flying trickling in through October.

When Kamron our youngest was born late march of 1990 she was in the field a few months later flagging for me. How is it that a woman can be that tough and beautiful as well? I’m forever grateful that she’s been both.

Hawaii December of 2016, Kamron was stationed there and it was a good time to go to Hawaii together 

I’ve lost track of how many times my bride has nursed me back to health from horse wrecks, both ankles have been rebuilt which required some down time, major surgeries and cancer scares, but that’s what we’ve done. That’s what you do in a marriage is support each other. 

When I was a teenager and my interest in the girls developed so to speak, I always wanted to get married to a beautiful and affectionate woman, raise a family, be a good husband and father and be madly in love with the love of my life; not sure how it could have turned out any better.

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