Idaho couple marks 75th wedding anniversary

HAYDEN, Idaho (AP) After the doorbell rings at the home of Noble and Wilma Brewer, a few seconds pass. Then a few more.

And then, the door opens. The homeowners greet their guests with a smile and a friendly hello.

Noble is dressed neatly in a sport jacket, checked shirt, a tie and slacks. Wilma wears a matching pink blouse and pants outfit and a white sweater.

He holds a cane, while she sits in an electric scooter.

The first thing they do is apologize.

"We're not as fast as we used to be," Noble says.

Probably not.

After all, Noble is 99 years old. Wilma is 92. They've been together most of those years. The Hayden couple marked its 75th anniversary on Feb. 1. He was 24, she was 17, on the day they both said I do.

Let's get right to the most important questions.

How do you make a marriage last three-quarters of a century?

Both glance at each other across their front room.

"Keeping my mouth shut sometimes," Wilma says, grinning.

"Humor," answers Noble. "I learned to say 'Yes dear, yes dear.'"

They share smiles.

He notes that someone commented that they often hold hands, and explains there's a reason for that.

"We hang on so we don't slug each other," he says, laughing.

"That's what he told them," Wilma adds.

Noble turns serious.

"We kind of harmonized for all of these years," he explains. "We have ups and downs, sickness and health. We went through the whole nine yards. Some way or another, it worked out. We're still at it."

The couple's Leisure Park home is immaculate and spacious. Throughout, it is decorated with artwork from their travels, pictures of family and their two children, flowers sent in honor of their anniversary, and Wilma's seraphim angels and Teddy bears.

Wilma loves Teddy bears, especially ones that celebrate Valentine's Day.

She steers her scooter into her kitchen and points to a bear holding a heart pillow that reads, "I love you."

"Push that button," she says.

A moment later, the bear breaks out in song. "Do you love me," it sings out loud.

Wilma's eyes light up and she beams with delight.

"I may be close to 93, but I'm a kid at heart," she said.

But Wilma is losing her eyesight due to macular degeneration, which upsets her because she loves her craft room.

"I can't do it much anymore," she says.

There are new daily aches and pains that weren't there yesterday.

"You can't be a wimp when you get old," she said.

Still, she is thankful.

"To be as old as I am, I'm very grateful to be as well off as I am," she says.

Wilma easily navigates her home in her scooter.

"I have to use this thing because I keep falling down. I have strong bones. Good thing or I'd be broken up," she says.

"I call it her VW Volkswagen," Noble chimes in, adding that she occasionally runs into him.

"If I had a dog she'd hit that too," he adds.

Noble stands, with a little help from his cane.

"I'm in pretty good shape," he begins.

"For the shape he's in," Wilma quickly cuts in.

Noble, undeterred, gives his wife a stern glance and continues.

"I'm like an airplane. The body's fine, but the landing gear is screwed up," he says, grinning. "That's why I have to have this dumb stick."

At 99, he's independent as can be, still drives, and says he's even learning to cook.

The secret to his fountain of youth?

"I guess I'm just kind of mean. I don't know," he answers.

They kid, too, about how they met at a theater in Loveland, Colo., what led them to the altar in Denver, Colo. They were introduced by Wilma's sister.

"I knew her folks very well," Noble says.

So what attracted them to each other? Neither offers the answer you might expect.

"I don't know," Wilma says, laughing.

"We just kept our acquaintance and finally got married. That's how it worked," Noble says.

"We were just young and foolish, I guess," he adds.

Noble jokes that when they got hitched, TV hadn't been invented yet.

They headed to California, he says with a big grin, eventually driving on the famous Route 66.

"Remember this song, 'Get your kicks on Route 66?' We were there. The drive-in stands were brand new."

Noble didn't graduate from college. He wanted to.

"But at that time, no money. I was broke. If I had a dime, I was pretty well off," he says.

"When we got married you were only making 25 cents a day," Wilma reminds him.

"25 cents an hour," he corrects her.

"I mean an hour," she responds.

Still, he landed a good job.

"I was lucky. I was in high school. I did pretty good, I took some extra courses."

Noble's career led him to being a field representative for McDonnell Douglas, and then Boeing. It was a steady, lucrative career that took them around the world as he did trouble shooting and investigated airplane accidents. They lived in Santiago, Chile; Tokyo; Helsinki, Finland; and Montreal.

"We've been in almost every country," she says.

Their first home was in Salt Lake City, Utah. Later, they lived in Burbank Calif., and in a home overlooking Cantalina Island.

"I take pretty good care of her," Noble says with a proud smile.

When Wilma talks about some of the trials she faced during their travels, Noble notes that she often had servants at home.

"She had it pretty easy 'cause I worked my tail off more or less," he adds.

Wilma shakes her head. She doesn't agree.

She tells a story of being in an airplane with Noble when he turned and asked her, "Is your seat belt fastened?'"

"Yes," she answered. "Why."

It was about then the plane did a test dive.

"Whoosh," she recalls the sound as it soared in a downward trajectory.

"It's a good thing I had a good heart," she says, shaking her head and staring at her husband.

Noble, who started his career with Western Airlines as a test flight inspector, says flying was in his blood. He loved the skies.

"I've been in an airplane since day one," he says.

Both enjoy telling stories, recalling happenings, reliving memories. Even if sometimes the other has a different recollection.

"He's a motormouth today," Wilma says in a whisper.

In the living room, as Wilma talks, Noble looks exasperated for a moment.

"She doesn't have a squelch button,' he says.

But when asked to pose for a picture together, they sit on the couch, hold hands, their heads lead together, and they smile.

Only a lifetime of love, after 75 years, could produce such smiles.


Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press