It was 1963 and Bill was a Senior at Hub City Bible Insitue in South Dakota. When he met Loretta he knew she was the one. She was a petite blue eyed beauty who had plenty of boys pursuing her, but Bill didn’t let that stop him and he asked her out. Loretta decided to give Bill a chance and their relationship grew and grew. Being at a conservatie Bible school there were very strict guidelines about how much time a couple could spend “courting” and those hours were logged. Bill and Loretta were supposed to limit it to one hour a week, but they couldn’t bear to be apart that often so they decided they would spend their time together studying in the library. It was just the loophole they needed in order to see each other more.
Things began to get serious and it was time for Bill to meet Loretta’s family. Loretta’s family was of German descent and they went to a German church where it was customary at the time for the men to sit on one side and the women on the other. However the service was in German and Bill didn’t speak German. So yet again they found their loophole and they convinced those in charge they needed to sit together so that Loretta could interpret the service for Bill.
At this point they had been together for over a year and they were still spending their days “studying” at the library. The library was a special place for them. It’s where they really got to know each other and Bill cherished the significance of those moments enough that he thought it would be a great place to propose. So one day while they were at the library he asked her to marry him using a game of hangman. Of course she said yes and they began to plan a wedding.
Loretta wanted to make sure the day was perfect. She made her own wedding dress. She had family and friends enlisted to help with all the details. They even hid their car in a grain elevator so no pranksters (like Bill’s brother for example) would try to do anything to it. Then on October 23 , 1964 before their family, friends, and church they became husband and wife.
They immediately began their ministry together. Everything they did was to build the kingdom and give glory and honor to their savior Jesus Christ. They were married for two years before they had their son Kendall and then a couple years later Jonathan. After 8 years Loretta wanted to try once more for a daughter. She convinced Bill that they were certain to have a baby girl this time. Soon enough they were expecting baby number 3. The nursery was decorated and the hospital bags were packed with all things pink and finally little David was born. That’s right . They had their third son.
It might not have been what they were expecting but God had blessed them with three healthy boys that grew up as strong leaders who serve the Lord. Loretta eventually had three wonderful daughter in laws that she was very close with. She and Bill also had the joy of getting to be grandparents to 11 grandchildren. Sadly, one of their granddaughters was still born and went to be with Jesus at birth. It was difficult for the family to experience this loss, but they clung to each other and to the word of God during this trying time.
Bill’s favorite Bible verse was “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal Isaiah 26:3.
That verse and the supernatural peace of the Holy Spirit is what carried them through many trying times, like when Loretta was diagnosed with breast cancer. Bill had to become her caregiver and it was season of testing, and trusting in God like never before . Everyone was praying diligenty in the midst of this hardship, and miraculously Loretta had an incredible turn around. She felt whole and was able to garden and cook and do all the things she loved doing. Her well being came at the perfect time because unfortunately this season of testing wasn’t quite over yet.
In the summer of 2015 Bill had an aneurism and it was Loretta’s turn to care for Bill. Due to a terrible fall off of a ladder along with his deteriorating health, Bill ended up in a nursing home. They never enjoyed being apart and it felt dark and lonely. Bill wasn’t supposed to leave the nursing home at all until he was completely approved for discharge, but once again they found a loophole! Loretta convinced the medical team that it would be nice for Bill to step out just briefly since they knew he was on the mend. The staff approved this request and so they snuck off together. Bill took off his neck brace and back brace and those two crazy love birds managed to have a patriotic photo together that day for the church directory.
Soon after that they were both back home going to church and having meals with family. Loretta was getting to paint the granddaughters nails and share stories with them while Bill was tinkering in the garage with the boys. They had been married for over 50 years and in ministry together that whole time. They were blessed and they knew it. Then when they least expected it Loretta’s health took a turn for the worse, again. Then one morning as Loretta was lying in bed under the careful watch of the hospice nurse, the nurse pulled Bill aside and told him that she thought she had about 30 days to live. Bill told her that he felt like she would be gone by the coming Saturday, 5 days from then. The nurse argued a bit wanting Bill to hang on to all hope, but Bill stood his ground. Then Bill looked her in the eye and said “and I will be going home shortly after”. He shared this with everyone from his son’s foreign exchange student to the pharmacist. He was insistant. The nurse was concerned and warned the family to watch him carefully for possible suicidality following Loretta’s death. Bill’s sons felt that although he implied heaven when he said he was going home, maybe he really just meant his own house. Five days later Loretta passed ways just as Bill had said.
It was a sad day for everyone. Loretta was a light that had impacted so many and now she was gone. The family mourned while at the same time celebrating her homecoming.
Bill went back to working on projects in the garage and spending time with his family. It was his first time alone in 50 years, but the peace of God was with him. Then a month after Loretta’s passing Bill had a sudden stroke that took his life and he too went to be with the Lord. It may have been unexpected to the family, but Bill knew it in his heart and spirit all along.
Bill and Loretta had a commitment to Christ and to each other that is the rarest of treasures. The legacy they leave behind is one that is evident in their families and will trickle down for generations and generations to come.
When Loretta passed away on October 17, 2015 they used that patriotic photo for her obiturary, but Bill was cropped out. When Bill passed away on November 18, 2015 they used that same photo and this time Loretta was cropped out. However, if you look really close in Loretta’s photo you’ll see Bill’s shoulder in the corner and if you look close at Bill’s photo you can spot some of Loretta’s hair. They were in eachothers obiturary photos. Just like they managed to be together in the library, or in the old German church, or the nursing home, they found their loophole.
Great writing about two beautiful people!! Thank you so much!
Love! I smiled when I read your comment on my blog post. Ellendale is very near the town I grew up in. I am so attended college in Bismarck ND. Such a small world. And I’m guessing the Bible college you mentioned is Trinity Bible College.
What a sweet and beautiful story! They sound like lovely, lovely people!
So sweet. I love this. I pray that my marriage and love will be as strong. Thank you sharing this wonderful story.
Thank you…this is written so well and gives a small glimpse of the love that Mom and Dad shared. Brought happy tears to my eyes.
What a beautiful tribute to two if the most beautiful people I have ever met!
Why did you have to go and make me cry?? That was precious. What an amazing story of love, togetherness, and following God’s calling! What an amazing love they shared.