Ruth and Ray — 70 years strong

STATE CENTER – Ray Frohwein said some women at his church did not approve him marrying a 17-year-old at the age of 19. They thought both were too young to tie the knot.

If only they could see the couple now.

Ray and Ruth Frohwein, of State Center, will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary on Thursday. The couple was married on Jan. 9, 1944.

“The ladies at the church didn’t like it – but we fooled them,” Ray said.

Ray and Ruth met at a dance hall in Marshalltown in 1943. Ray approached Ruth and pretty much knew he had a winner right away.

“I thought I had one of the best,” Ray said.

Ruth wasn’t as convinced as Ray was early on in their meeting.

“I was standing there just looking for someone to ask me to dance,” Ruth said.

The couple did dance that night and shared a love of dancing weekly throughout much of their marriage.

They also enjoyed raising five children, and then welcoming nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“We’ve had a bunch of nice kids,” Ray said.

As inseparable as they have been through the years, they didn’t even last the first full year together – as World War II interrupted the newlyweds. Ray was drafted into the Army and earned three battle stars serving overseas. Ruth was thrilled to have her husband home from the war upon his return.

Ray farmed for 60 years in the State Center area while Ruth stayed home with the children. She later had a job at Marshalltown Instruments before it closed and then worked at Walmart for 17 years.

Their oldest daughter, Beth Tuttle, of Melbourne, said her siblings still talk about how they never heard their parents argue when they were kids. It’s also uncanny how many things the longtime couple do together, she said.

“They do everything together,” Tuttle said. “When mom had a pacemaker put in, two weeks later, dad had one put in.”

Ray said they did have arguments here and there and they would sit down and talk them through. Ruth said that a key to their longevity in marriage is dedication.

“You’ve got to work at it,” Ruth said.

Ray is now 89 years old and Ruth is 87. Ruth is now in a nursing home and Ray lives on his own, but visits his wife frequently.

Their family held an open house celebration for the 70th anniversary last month to honor the couple.

“It’s been a very close family,” Tuttle said.