Finding lasting love along the way

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Tomorrow Bert and I celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary. Through the years I’ve shared how Bert married me and my three daughters in a giant leap of faith back in 1986. We’ve both been blessed by the union, as have our daughters and now our grandsons. We met in a small town in North Dakota where we were neighbors. But in a town of 500 people, everyone’s your neighbor.

I knew he was the man for me when, on a bitterly cold North Dakota winter morning, I was heading to class at UND-Williston. The heater in my van stopped working and I knew it was foolhardy to drive 35 miles in below zero temperatures with no heater. I pulled into the service station Bert and his brother owned before heading out on the highway. Bert checked under the hood then closed it. No heater. Then he made a fist and banged it one time on the hood (like Fonzie and the jukebox in Happy Days). The heater came on, I headed off to class, and the rest is history. P.S.: I still own that ’76 Dodge van, and Bert still hates it.

A few years later after I moved back to Idaho and we were dating long distance, one evening we were talking about marriage during a phone conversation. He said we should get married. I asked when. He said in about six months. So I said March was six months away. I asked what day and he said, about the middle of the month. I said that would be the 15th. And there you have the story of how we came to be married 32 years ago on March 15, 1986.

• • •

I asked my Facebook village how they met their spouse, and received nearly 200 responses with some really interesting stories. Engagements long and short, introductions by family or friends or fate. There were stories of enduring lifetime love and inspirational love the second time around.

I’ll share just a few of those stories here ...

Who knew that the court room or newsroom could be such fertile ground for finding love?

Christa Manis was clerking for Judge James Judd, who urged her to go watch the sensational trial of a grandmother who tried to hire a hit man named “Tiny” to off her granddaughter’s mother. Joel Hazel was the prosecutor. Christa admits to being smitten with Joel from that moment on. “No one does jury selection like Joel Hazel.” The Hazels celebrated 18 years of wedded bliss this month.

Reporter Taryn Hecker was covering a high profile murder for hire case for the Spokesman Review. Phil Thompson, then a private investigator, was in court on another case. Phil introduced himself and the rest is history. The Thompsons celebrate 8 years of marriage this year.

Susan Wailes was a reporter at the Coeur d’Alene Press. Detective Gary Cuff was with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department. Says Susan, “he was my source on a story about a jewelry theft.” The couple mark 31 years this year.

In 1993, David Kilmer was editor of the Priest River Times, coming to the Coeur d’Alene Press every week when his paper was being printed. Rebecca worked in the admin office at the Press. David moved to Coeur d’Alene to work in the Press newsroom. The romance took off from there, and for the past 19 of those 24 years since they first met, Mr. and Mrs. Kilmer have been sailing life’s seas together.

Nancy Callaghan would see Craig Kosonen having lunch at the “lawyers table” at the North Shore when he was a judge. They met when Judge Kosonen officiated the wedding of Nancy’s roommate. Craig caught the garter and Nancy caught the bouquet. The couple were married a year later and marked 40 years together before Craig’s passing in 2015.

Jeanne Stone was in her Coeur d’Alene High School home economics class in 1964 when Herb Helstrom came in to have a button sewn back on his shirt. She admits to not liking him much but also admits it was a clever way to meet a girl. They began dating the next year and will celebrate a half century of marriage in 2018.

Phyllis Berry recalls: Bob and I met at the swimming pool in Pullman. I was 11 and he was 12. We were steadies all the way through junior high and high school and have been married for 62 years this September.

Dorene Clem’s U of I sorority sister introduced her to Jim Branson in college. Mr. and Mrs. Branson have been happily married for 50 years!

At Post Falls Junior High School, Tammie Peacock thought Butch looked like a young John Denver. The two will be married for 39 years in December.

Now married for 37 years, Pam Dawson and Rich Houser met at their parents’ 20th Spirit Lake High School reunion.

Cheryl Smotherman and Kenny Freeman were high school sweethearts who celebrate their 34th anniversary on April 7.

Ryan and Jamé Davis met in a public speaking class at Lewis Clark State College. In May they mark 23 years of marriage and countless public speaking engagements. :)

Callie McKinney met her future husband, Stu Cabe, while performing with Coeur d’Alene Summer Theater in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers in 1994. He was “Frank” and Callie was “Alice.” A summer romance that has lasted for 24 years. Their 20-year wedding anniversary is March 21.

In 1962 Jennifer Graves was performing with the Ice Capades. When the tour came to Spokane, she met Jim Custer, then an EWU student. The pair have been happily married for 54 years.

(There were simply too many wonderful and fun stories to include them all, so over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share a few more each week. Ain’t love grand?)


Things to Do:

Celebrate the 99th anniversary of the American Legion at the annual Steven H. Nipp American Legion Post 143 Birthday Banquet on Friday, March 16. 773-9054.

On Saturday everyone’s Irish, so enjoy the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in downtown Coeur d’Alene. The parade kicks off at 4 p.m. on Sherman Avenue at 8th Street and heads downtown to 1st Street.

Get your green on with the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Saturday night for Coeur d’Irish at the Coeur d’Alene Resort. Bagpipes, Irish dancers, food and specialty drinks. 5:30 p.m., info

On Monday, the Women’s History Dinner at Greenbriar Inn runs from 6-8 p.m. Info: Diane Clark, 208-659-6288.


Welcome to the newest member of the Main Street Birthday Club, Ryker Kai Burchfield. He was born at his Coeur d’Alene home on Sunday morning, greeted by his mommy and daddy, Katie and Brandon and his big brother, Judah. Ryker weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces and is 21.5 inches tall!


Happy birthday today to Tom Capone, Wayne Cofield, Bud Evans, David Cehr, Candace McEnespy, Teri Rouse, Fabian Medina, Ina Bressler, and Sheila Kemmis. Tomorrow John McGruder, Bill Haughton, Terie Huston, Len Crosby, Rick Noordam, Barry Rubin, Zack Yost, Pam Humphrey and Penny Brownell put on their party hats. On Friday Colleen English, John Bujosa, Cindy Marcella, Cathy Riorden, Kelly Moore, LauraLee Johnson, Laurel Rollins, Daniel Schelske and Dottie Pichard take another trip around the sun. Combining a little luck o’ the Irish with their birthday celebration on March 17 are Pat Castelian, Cody Peugh, Keith Hutcheson, Patty Conkle, Trish Ortega, Terry Corey, Carrie Nicholson, Mike Gump and Nichelle Price. On Sunday my Birthday Club buddy Jack Pierce, Chris Englebrecht, Dawn Johnston, Lisa Jirkins, Julie Bjornson and Bret Merry blow out the candles on their cake. Monday Lance Bridges, Taryn Nichols, Kris Storey, Megan Merry, Troy Jones, Judey Brown, Patsy Andres, Janet Batchelder and Taryn Moliter are celebrating. Happy first day of spring birthdays on Tuesday to Pam Houser, Kristi Granier, Aaron Sadler, John Blanchette, Tad Thompson, Julie Clark, Carolyn Anderson and Matt Hansen.


Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email

Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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