So what is the secret to making a marriage work for 75 years?
There isn’t one. But, for Freelan and Janice Aune of Mission Hill it may have something to do with appreciating what they have.
The Aunes were married in 1944, and Monday will be their 75th wedding anniversary. Last weekend, 75 descendants and their families celebrated it with them.
“You couldn’t ask for two better parents: very loving, very caring,” said daughter Marsha Heckenlively. “There isn’t anything they wouldn’t do for you.”
Freelan and Janice (then Thomsen) first caught sight of one another as teens in the early 1940s when he came over with a neighbor to help with the threshing. They met again, weeks later, at a dance at Utica Hall and have been together ever since.
They married in 1944 when World War II was raging.
After having their first child, Gerald, Freelan joined the U.S. Navy and served aboard the U.S.S. Wyoming.
“He went into the service in 1945.” Janice said. “He got back out of the service in 1946 and we lived in a little house for about a year. Then, we moved over to the farm where we are at now. We’ve been at that farm at least 70 years.”
Being apart during that wartime was not easy.
“But we were just newly married, so we weren’t married that long,” Janice said. “I stayed with his parents when he was gone.”
Over the years, the couple farmed and raised livestock on their farm in Mission Hill.
Freelan started out farming with his father and older brother.
“Then when they were gone, my oldest brother and Steve farmed with my dad,” Heckenlively said. “When they both passed away, their two boys, Chad and Rodney, still farmed with dad.”
Until two years ago, Freelan, then 92, was farming with his nephews, driving the truck and disking.
“I think they’ll get played out and I’ll have to take over gain,” Freelan said.
His biggest regret was putting lights on the combine, Heckenlively added, because that put him out in the field at night instead of home with the family.
The Aunes had eight children, with the youngest, Candace, born in 1959.
“Things didn’t change much raising the kids because we were on that same farm all the time,” Janice said. “Those years, they didn’t have all the stuff going on that they do now. Our kids were lucky if they left the place once a week.”
“We had to use our imaginations to have fun,” Heckenlively said. “At harvest time, the girls looked forward to threshing, because Dad would let us drive the truck.”
Each morning the Aune children walked the half-mile to the Rempp Country School, something that the Aunes agree would be too dangerous today.
Three of the Aune’s children have passed away.
“We lost our oldest son in ’92, and about seven years ago, we lost our youngest son, Steve, and about a year ago this last September, we lost our oldest daughter, Monica,” Janice said. “We’ve had our ups and our downs, but overall everything is good.”
From their eight children, the Aune’s now have 16 grandchildren, 34 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.
“They visit us,” Janice said. “Just this weekend we had a little (anniversary) party. There were 75 of us there.”
The secret to happiness may have to do with not letting things stew, Heckenlively said.
“And sometime letting things go in one ear and out the other,” Janice said.
Freelan added that he can’t figure out how the years went by so fast.
“We have a lot of laughs and we’ve done a lot of partying together,” Heckenlively said. “When we get together, and all of us are there, Dad looks at Mom and he goes, ‘Look what we started, Ma.’“
Together with their families the children Gerald, Monica, Doug, Pam, Marsha, Steve, Joyce and Candace, all their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren; Freelan and Janice Aune will have the honor of celebrating their 75th Wedding Anniversary on November 18th. The family is having a card shower for them. Cards may be sent to 44425 303rd Street; Mission Hill, SD 57046
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