by Kier Junos, Contributor
Jack Friesen was enamoured when he spied Louise across the ice rink in Rosthern, Sask. She was pretty in a black velvet outfit trimmed with white fur.
Louise had been watching Jack too. She peeked out the window whenever he walked home from school.
Throughout their teens, they attended classes together at Rosthern Junior College – once a four-room Christian high school – and they went to the same church youth group outings.
Later, on a more personal outing, a 24-year-old Jack asked for her hand in marriage on the first day of spring in 1945. Louise said she would “think about it.”
“OK,” said Jack, preparing his follow-up question. “What’s your ring size?”
“Six-and-a-half!” Louise replied.
They’ve been married for 71 years now, celebrating their anniversary on March 21.
The two hold hands on the loveseat in their North Oaks apartment, just past the Pentecostal church on Gladwin Road. Jack and Louise remember walking around the North Oaks perimeter when the place was just acreage. They bought the land and had their apartment built there.
They used to hold hands because they just liked doing it. These days – Jack is 95 and Louise is 96 – they grasp hands literally to catch the other if they fall. The two have travelled the world together, notably for seniors’ Scrabble tournaments in Arizona.
Jack says they’re grateful that they’ve “never been without.”
Back in Rosthern, a young Jack once brought Louise home at the end of an evening and told her, “You know what? Money doesn’t mean anything to me!” He pulled his wallet from his pocket and tossed it into the night. She was impressed.
He returned later in the night with a flashlight and retrieved his wallet.
Once, on a date, Jack thought he’d buy her stewed prunes, her favourite dessert. In reality, Louise never liked them. They just happened to be the cheapest dessert one could buy.
Jack’s father was a merchant, who sold everything from fruits to tailored suits. That’s where he got his money smarts. In fact, when they first came to Abbotsford in the ’50s, he set up a furniture business where the MGM Furniture store is today in Clearbrook.
Louise’s father was a preacher. Faith has always been an important foundation to her marriage, and it’s largely why she and Jack get along, even in the odd spat. She often reads to him from the Bible.
Even if a couple doesn’t have faith in God as they do, Jack says finding common ground is paramount in marriage.