You can tell by the smiles, which span over three quarters of a century, the Strakeljahn’s marriage has been a happy one.
Bob and Evie Strakeljahn met on May 26, 1944 during World War II while Bob was on a 15-day furlough from the Army.
Bob went home to Rockford, Illinois, where they met. Evie came down from Beloit to go roller skating with a friend, but they missed their bus back home.
Bob and his friend were cruising around and walked into a diner to get some late-night food when Evie and her friend came running toward them.
“A couple of guys were drinking too much, tried to lay it on heavy to them and they were scared,” Bob told the Leader five years ago. “We kept talking and talking and finally talked them into taking them back to Beloit.”
During this time, they couple double dated with friends until Bob had to return to Camp Butner, North Carolina.
During his absence they exchanged letters on a regular basis.
“I just thought he was too good to be real,” Evie said during the interview. “The first night when he told me he would come back to see me, I thought to myself, ‘He’ll never be back.’ But he was.”
Before Bob was shipped overseas, he joined the paratroopers at Fort Benning, knowing that he would get a furlough before being shipped out.
“That was my chance to see Evie again,” Bob said.
Bob came home in late September and he and Evie got married. They were only 20 years old at the time so they both had to get permission from their parents before getting a marriage license from the Jefferson County Courthouse.
“It was a whirlwind marriage, but we clicked,” Bob said. “The pastor at St. Paul’s actually asked us if we knew what we were doing.”
They must have, 75 years together, three children, three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren later prove it.
They have defied many adversities to get to where they are today, the biggest was Bob being wounded in action in Germany in March 1945, resulting in the loss of his right eye. Bob spent two and a half years in Army hospitals. Evie was by his side.
More than 40 years later, Evie suffered a profound hearing loss and they have since become each other’s eyes and ears. They are always together, side by side, coping with whatever life has to offer.
Except for 28 years spent in Madison, Bob and Evie have lived in Lake Mills, currently they reside at Lilac Springs.
“During wartime, there were a lot of fast marriages that didn’t last. We’ve had our spats like most people but we never went to bed mad at each other,” Evie said. “I’ve always said that Bob was a marriage made in heaven.”
On Saturday, Sept. 28, their children, Sandy, David and Tom will host a 75th Anniversary luncheon in their honor. The event will be held in the gymnasium of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church where they have been members all their years in Lake Mills. The doors will open at 11:30 a.m. and a buffet luncheon will be served at noon. Friends, family and persons who have touched the lives of this truly remarkable couple are invited to attend and share memories and well wishes. No gifts, please.