Jim and Peggy Dorr

In love and war


— It may be one of the few success stories from a blind date.

Nearly 40 years ago, Steamboat Springs graduate Jim Dorr was a student at Colorado State University on his way to receiving a physical education degree. He was single and a member of the university's ROTC program.

Eventually, he would be a bomber pilot during the Vietnam War.

On April Fools' Day 1961, Dorr went out on a blind date with Peggy Eskeldson, who also was a CSU student working toward an English degree.

The date was arranged by either Dorr's roommate or his brother, Ted, but neither Jim nor Peggy could specifically remember which one played matchmaker.

They also could not recall what they did on their first date.

"We sat around and drank beer, I think," Peggy said. "That's what people did then, you know. We had something to eat and listened to records.

"April Fools' Day has always kind of been our anniversary. We started dating after that."

Jim and Peggy were married shortly after she graduated from college in 1964.

Since that memorable April Fools' Day, however, Jim and Peggy have enjoyed a remarkable 37-year relationship, which began shortly before the hottest American battle of the Cold War.

Jim flew 138 missions during Vietnam, mostly out of Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in western Oklahoma, which is where Peggy and Jim lived for three years.

They also lived in Elk City for a year during their stay in Oklahoma.

They kept in touch while he was away by writing letters and by mailing cassette tapes back and forth that they used to record messages on.

Vietnam was a memorable time for them.

Jim remembers flying over Hanoi, the capital of North Vietnam, when Jane Fonda was on the air speaking out against America's involvement in the war.

He tuned in to Fonda's broadcast from his cockpit radio.

"I distinctly remember listening to Jane Fonda while flying over Hanoi," Jim said. "She was broadcasting to tell us to get the hell out of the war."

Fonda was doing the broadcast from Hanoi.

Jim, who did tours in Guam, Okinawa and Thailand, said the pilots he knew did not like Fonda and they never appreciated her comments.

While Jim was on his first two tours, Peggy was in Oklahoma with their newly born children, Bill and Karen.

She filled Jim's absence by taking care of the children and by traveling throughout the West, visiting friends and family, or sometimes going to see ancient Indian ruins in New Mexico, she said.

Peggy also spent many days taking her children to the recreational facilities at the base. It had a movie theater, bowling alley, golf course and swimming pool. It also had a commissary.

Peggy belonged to a number of clubs, including the officers' wives club.

During her husband's second tour, Peggy took a flight to Thailand to see him. She arrived in Bangkok on an aircraft that had 308 military wives aboard. There also was one man on the plane who was flying to see his wife who was taking part in the war.

Peggy's visit with Jim lasted for 10 days.

After completing his first two tours out of the Clinton-Sherman base, Jim was transferred to Kincheloe Air Force Base in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. During their three-year stay in Michigan, Peggy worked briefly as a teacher's aid in Rudyard.

Jim, who eventually earned the rank of lieutenant colonel, was an pilot instructor for 12 years after completing his three tours. He was an instructor in Merced, Calif., and in South Dakota.

Peggy put her English degree to use while they were in California and South Dakota. She worked at the Merced Public Library for more than five years and at the South Dakota School of Mines Library for three years.

At age 62, Jim is now retired after spending 20 years in the military and 14 years as a ticket host at the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. in Steamboat.

He now likes to cook, visit with his grandchildren and watch the Denver Broncos play on Sundays during the NFL season.

Jim's cooking has caught the attention of his son, Bill.

"He cooked a prime rib dinner for us at Christmas," said Bill Dorr, who lives with his wife, Robin, and their daughter in Steamboat. "I liked it; it was real good."

Peggy, who also worked for Ski Corp. for two years at Rendezvous, is now the learning resource center coordinator at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus Library.

She has been employed there for 15 years.

Jim and Peggy's immediate plans include taking a vacation to Alaska.

The two have been able to keep a healthy marriage by sticking to a few philosophies.

For one, Jim says that trust has been the most important aspect of their maintaining a strong marriage.

Peggy says they have also learned to respect one another's freedom.

Peggy goes to an opera in Santa Fe, N.M., every year without Jim, and Jim likes to travel to Utah once a year to see chariot races in Ogden.

Peggy says coming from strong families has helped them with their relationship.

"We both come from families that were real stable and married a long time," Peggy said. "We never considered our marriage would be any different than that."


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