The photo was taken in black and white, but the sunshine of the bright fall day and vibrant expressions on the young couple’s face look as if they were captured only yesterday.
“It didn’t seem like 60 years,” said Betty Kemry, as she flipped through a photo album documenting her 1950 wedding to her husband, Lewis.
Now residing in a condo near Steamboat Ski Area, the longtime Routt County residents and ranchers know they have a lot to celebrate
This year, Betty turned 80, Lewis turned 90 and their marriage turned 60, but the two haven’t slowed their attention to various hobbies and their attachment to their ever-growing family.
“As people get older, it goes so fast,” Betty said. “But I can’t imagine being bored. I just can’t see it. I think you can keep things a-goin’ if you enjoy doing things.”
Today, the couple will celebrate its 60th wedding anniversary at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.
They were married Sept. 24, 1950, at the local congregational church back when a bowling alley was the only building between downtown Steamboat and Rabbit Ears Pass.
“There’s 10 people in the area now where there was one when I was a young fella,” Lewis said.
But some things have remained the same, such as the steadfast bond between Betty and Lewis, along with the building where they met.
‘We’ve been blessed’
In 1948, the building where the Old Town Pub now resides, was home to the Oddfellas Hall, which opened its doors to frequent country dances and get-togethers.
One evening at the hall, a 28-year-old Lewis was standing upstairs looking down at the entrance when he saw two good-looking young women he had never seen before, he said.
“I went to my friend there and said, ‘Can you get me an introduction?’” Lewis said. “And I got it. And it went from there.”
For the next couple of years, Lewis courted Betty, who was attached at the hip to her sister and best friend, Mary. The girls often would go to the “picture show” in the evenings while Lewis was working late on the ranch. Then, he’d make his way into town, pick up the sisters and head to wherever that evening’s country dance was kicking into gear.
After they married, the two settled down on Lewis’ family ranch and carried on the cattle business. They bought their own ranch north of Steamboat Springs in 1970.
“We’ve been blessed in our lives,” Betty said. “To live in a place like this with friends and family and everything.”
The Kemry clan
Looking at the pictures six decades after the wedding, Lewis noticed many people in the photographs who are no longer around today. But many more were born long after that picture-perfect day.
“I know we’ll have more great-grandchildren,” Betty said about the growing Kemry family. “It’s fun. We like to keep close enough to them so that they know you.”
One of her eight great-grandchildren, the grandson of Lewis and Betty’s daughter Irene, had visited just weeks before. Betty laughed as she recalled his exuberance.
“We know why they give the young ones to the young,” she said. “He’s such a live wire. He’s so cute. You forget how lively they are at 2 years old.”
But they don’t stay 2 for long. The little 2-year-old in a dress and bonnet in the Kemrys’ wedding photo album has grown into a 62-year-old woman, Kathie McKune. The daughter of Lewis’ sister Eunice, McKune’s memories are ripe with fondness for her Aunt Betty and Uncle Lewis.
“They have a solid and unique marriage,” she said. “I never heard them say a cross word to each other. You don’t see friction between them.”
Caring for each other
Betty long has been an aide to her husband, who has had trouble with his eyesight since they married. For more than 50 years, Betty has been putting drops in his eyes, and her caretaking role expanded as Lewis’ mobility declined.
“She’s been so loving and kind,” McKune said. “And he’s loving and kind right back to her.”
Since they moved into town 10 years ago, Betty keeps busy with quilting and organizing family get-togethers, and Lewis is working on his memoirs via a reading machine that magnifies documents because of his vision.
Starting with the day of their wedding, there always have been minor hitches and hang-ups on their long road together. But Lewis said it was important to the couple to maintain respect for each other no matter what.
“It would be pretty damn lonely if one of us were to leave,” he said.