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Sitting across from each other in their cozy living room, they look at each other quizzically and then shrug.
The question hangs in the air, “What’s the secret to their long marriage?”
Finally, the Neligh couple answers—saying there is no secret, just united decisions and their strong faith.
Richard and Norma Sanne of Neligh, who will celebrate their 70th anniversary this week, said they’ve “always pretty much done things together.”
“Making decisions together and our faith in God, that’s what I think anyway,” Norma said were keys to their relationship’s longevity.
Richard, 91, said he never would’ve guessed he’d be married for 70 years.
“It’s been a good 70 years, nothing unusual, just normal family life, I guess you would say,” he said.
April 10 marks the Sanne’s 70th anniversary, and it is also Norma’s 89th birthday. They don’t remember details about the proposal, but the wedding is still vivid in their minds.
In an afternoon ceremony at Grace Lutheran Church in Neligh, they stood before Pastor John Sternberg to recite their vows in 1949. Norma wore rose buds in her hair and a new, two-piece light blue dress accented with a magnolia corsage. Richard donned a navy blue pinstripe suit.
“It was a real simple little wedding,” Richard said. “We could hardly afford the marriage certificate.”
After the wedding, the couple attended a downtown movie at the New Moon Theater, along with best man Bill Timm and maid of honor Kathryn (Johnson) Willats.
Their relationship began in the spring of 1948. Although they didn’t date in high school, they both graduated from Neligh High School—Richard in 1946 and Norma in 1947.
Less than a month after graduation, Richard was drafted into the U.S. Army. He was discharged in November of 1947 and returned to Neligh. Richard often stopped to visit his friend Bill Timm who worked at E.A. Petersen Motors. And that’s where he met Norma Paul, the company’s bookkeeper.
“I don’t even remember our first date now,” Norma said. “We probably went down to the roller rink.”
The Sannes were married a year later. And, as they say, the rest is history.
They lived in Neligh and raised four children: Richard (Judy) Sanne of Lincoln, Denise Reikofski of Norfolk, Lance Sanne of Neligh and Diana (Kurt) Coup of Fort Morgan, Colo. The couple also has four grandchildren and six grandchildren. They lived in their home on 5th Street for the past 61 years.
The Sannes and their family gathered for an early 70th wedding anniversary celebration this past weekend with a family dinner and games in the Pioneer Homes community room.
Looking back on their 70 years together, Richard and Norma said they have just one piece of advice for young couples, “If you love each other and get married, then stick with it through thick and thin, good and bad.”