They met at a Christmas dance, two University of North Dakota students whose friends arranged an introduction.
Their memories of that blind date are a little dim.
“There were probably a few waltzes, I think — darned if I know. That was 70-plus years ago,” 93-year-old Wally Christianson said, and then chuckled.
Wally Christianson and Beth Robertson couldn’t have guessed that their evening of dancing and visiting in 1942 would lead to a wedding, and then four children, eight grandchildren — and now 70 years of marriage.
“We started going together after that,” recalled Wally. “We both had similar backgrounds; both raised on farms. What else is there to say? We’ve been together since.”
The Christiansons married Jan. 14, 1944, at the United Methodist Church in Rocky River, Ohio.
Wally and Beth marked their platinum wedding anniversary with a luncheon Tuesday at Stoneybrook Lodge and will celebrate again with friends, family and members of their church on Saturday at the First Congregational United Church of Christ.
As farm children of the Great Depression — Wally from Minnesota and Beth from North Dakota — they both “grew up poor but didn’t know it,” Wally said.
They also knew about hard work, Beth added.
“Having mutual interests” is one recipe to a successful marriage, Wally said.
“And,” Beth said, “there’s a lot of give and take.”
Wally, a mechanical engineer, started out his career at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory in Cleveland. The lab was part of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics before the federal agency morphed into what is known today as NASA.
During that time, Beth gave birth to their first two children.
The young family then moved to Naperville, Ill., where they spent much of their adult life. Beth kept her growing family in line — children Linda, Wayne, Gary and Greg — and taught elementary school for about 10 years.
Wally worked for 32 years in the Electro-Motive Division of General Motors, which produced locomotives.
In retirement, Wally and Beth moved to Oregon — spending 16 years in Bend and the past 19 years in Corvallis.
“All our kids were west, so we decided to go west,” Wally said.
Greg Christianson lives in Corvallis, Gary Christianson in the Seattle area, Wayne Christianson in Lincoln City and Linda Christianson in the Sacramento area.
The couple didn’t slow down in retirement.
“We had a motor home, and we did a lot of traveling,” Beth said.
“We’ve been to all 50 states and Europe,” Wally added. “We spent a lot of winters in Arizona.”
Now their children are nearing retirement age, and this week the couple celebrated the birth of their second great-grandchild.
At age 90, Beth — three years Wally’s junior — affectionately reminds her husband to use his cane or walker to safely get around their apartment.
Beth is Wally’s secret to good health.
“I have a wife that does a lot of home cooking,” he said.
And the key to a good marriage?
“There is no key,” Beth said. “You have to work it out. Usually, you have more good times than bad.”