At 96, George still easily recalls how nervous he was to court his sweetheart, Virginia. Now comfortably settled into their apartment at Vista Prairie at Windmills Ponds in Alexandria MN, they tell the story of what led to their marriage 52 years ago. It was a re-union for both of them.
Virginia’s first husband had died of cancer two months before, when she was just 40 years old. His passing left her to raise three teenagers on her own, all while trying to manage eight cottages and a lakefront on the Lucky Acres Resort, which they owned on the west side of nearby Lake Miltona. George and Virginia met when he was a Lucky Acres customer, but they didn’t know each other well.
George made his living as a butcher and as an independent meat products provider. Cancer had taken his first wife two years earlier, leaving him the single father of three children. Because of the timing, George was more ready to pursue a relationship, especially after he got some encouragement from his pastor.
“The Lord took her husband and took your wife, and there’s no time limit,” George recalls the pastor advising him. “I said, ‘People will talk,’ and he said, ‘They’ll talk anyway.’” Even with that blessing, George was mighty nervous to call on Virginia.
“The Lord helped me turn into the resort and to go up and knock on the door,” George reflects. “I told her what the minister had said and that I knew it was early, but when you’re ready to go out, you just let me know.”
The two sets of children were understandably resistant to the courtship at first. As Virginia learned to cope with her grief, she agreed to a dinner date. And the rest was pure romance. “We started dating every Saturday night,” Virginia recalls. “We went dancing.” Virginia acknowledges that George was the better dancer.
“After two dates, her mother called me and invited me and my three children up for a meal,” George recalled. “She wanted to get better acquainted with my children.” Eventually the kids realized how much they loved each other. The courtship led to their marriage in 1970.
George and Virginia honeymooned in Hawaii, knowing they had lots of obstacles to overcome when they got home. While one of the children was married by that time, the other five teenagers needed to share the country house George had built. “We had a terrible time deciding whether he was going to give up the farm or I was going to give up the resort,” Virginia explained. Because of George’s steady, year-round work, Virginia decided to sell the resort.
In their retirement, the couple traveled for nearly a decade with their fifth-wheel trailer, visiting children and grandchildren after they eventually settled out west, in Wyoming, Idaho and Washington.
They’re now happy to call Vista Prairie at Windmill Ponds their latest stop. The community offers assisted living in 65 one- and two-bedroom apartments, designed for seniors who enjoy an active social environment and expect high quality care.