Betty and Howard Hunter are pictured on their wedding day, June 23, 1947. They celebrated 70 years of marriage with their family this summer, renewing their vows.
Hunters celebrate 70 years of marriage
Lincoln, Nebraska, was the setting for the beginning of Howard and Betty (Hester) Hunter’s life together, but Holyoke has been their home since “retirement.” Of course, anyone who knows Howard would agree that he is hardly the picture of someone decades into retirement. The two just celebrated 70 years of marriage, but they still keep a busy schedule — working, playing and doing life together.
June 23, 1947, was the day they were wed; however, their story started a couple years before then. They were only in ninth grade when they met, and by 10th grade they were going pretty steady. Betty explained that her studies began in a country school near Thedford, Nebraska, where she was born, so she was young for her grade, graduating at 16 years old.
Howard remembers his future wife moving to Lincoln. Betty was new to the school, he said, and a lot of the guys were attracted to her. He joked that he fought hard enough to get her that he had to hold on to her all these years, and he says that’s the secret to their marriage lasting so long. According to a smirking Betty, it’s tolerance that keeps a couple together. Spending time with them, it seems like laughter must play a healthy role in a long, happy marriage, as well.
Before they were married, Howard enlisted in the Navy in April 1945 and was called to service that June. While he was home from Navy boot camp, he and Betty became engaged on Aug. 23. As she was only 17 at the time, Betty’s father said they needed to wait two years before getting married, thus their long engagement.
Howard was in the Navy until August 1946, and 10 months later he was a married man. For their honeymoon they drove out to California, a place they would return to often over the years. In the early ’70s, they spent about four years living in Eldorado Hills, California, and up until about three years ago they spent three months of each year in Arizona and southern California at RV parks. It was a tradition that lasted 30 years, and through it, they made friends and saw sights across the country.
They also lived in Venango, Nebraska, on two separate occasions. The first time they moved there, Betty said, it was 1954 and they had just built a house in Lincoln. She wouldn’t let Howard sell the house until they found out if they actually liked Venango. It turns out they did. Their second stint there came after living in California. They returned when Howard was offered a position as general manager at Dudden Elevator.
In the mid ’80s, the two began to look for a place to retire, and it was its golf course that made Holyoke their No. 1 choice. Both joined local golf leagues and continue to golf weekly. In 1988 they moved into a house near the elementary school that they still live in today. Betty spends a fair amount of time outdoors keeping their yard and flowers looking neat.
They love living near the schools, Betty said. People are often out on the track exercising, and junior high and high school kids have been known to stop and visit with them on their way to the elementary school for lunch.
The Hunters are members of the United Methodist Church. For 63 years Howard has been a member of the American Legion and Betty the American Legion Auxiliary. In the past, Howard was on school boards and in the Lions Club. Even before moving to town, Betty joined a bridge group in Holyoke, and now she’s involved in two, usually playing three times a month.
Both enjoyed bowling for many years. In Ogallala, Betty was the president of the ladies’ bowling league, and Howard served as the secretary/treasurer in the men’s league. Another hobby they shared was flying. Howard became a pilot in 1956, and Betty learned the skill up to the point of flying solo, which held little interest for her. That pastime continued for over 20 years.
Knowing even a little about the life they shared together, it comes as no surprise that their advice to others is to “stay active.”
Howard continues to work as a Dish Network retailer, a position he began in 1996. His work with televisions began in 1947 when he sold his first television set. Today he averages about one service call a day and three upgrades each week. He said that there are six different families he can think of that he has sold or serviced TVs for across four generations.
“We feel extremely blessed to celebrate 70 years,” Howard said. The couple spent the occasion with loved ones at the Hester family reunion in Pine this summer. It’s the 63rd consecutive year of the gathering, and 49 people were in attendance. To celebrate their anniversary, the Hunters renewed their vows.
Howard and Betty have one daughter, Paula Kantor, and her husband Doug. Their grandson A.J. Kantor and his wife, Emily, have one son, Noah, and their granddaughter Cassie Kellett and her husband, P.K., have three children, Jaden, Colbie and Ember.