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Understanding and faith have been the glue that has held Arthur “Art” and Alice Busshardt’s marriage together for 75 years.
“We understood each other no matter what the subject was; we worked it out together,” Arthur said. “We never totally disagreed, but there were items that came up that we did discuss and always made it so that it was mutual with us.”
Both Alice, 96, and Arthur, 95, agreed that their faith has been the key factor in keeping their love and commitment strong, no matter what has been thrown at them throughout the years.
“I think our faith in the Lord has helped us a lot, I mean, we know he’s there to help us through all the problems,” Alice said.
Aug. 6 will mark their 75th wedding anniversary, as they were married on that day in 1943 in Omaha at the First Presbyterian Church.
Seventy-five years ago, they decided to keep their wedding small and simple, inviting only a few friends they had known for a while in Omaha.
“We just had a couple of friends. We just went and we didn’t have a big wedding, it was during the war,” Alice said. “And so, most of the weddings were just you’d go to the church and maybe you’d have another couple with you. So, that’s what we did.”
After the wedding, they took pictures in the park and celebrated by going to a restaurant for dinner.
Before uniting in marriage, they both had been working at the Glenn L. Martin Bomber Plant just outside of Omaha.
And, that’s where they first met.
Arthur used his education from the Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to work as a flight inspector at the plant. Meanwhile, Alice worked as a secretary in one of its offices after previously working in Norfolk.
“I worked in Norfolk for a dentist, and then I went into Omaha and worked,” Alice said. “I had wanted to be a secretary; that’s when we used typewriters and short-hand. I loved to type because we had the electric typewriters then.”
The office Alice worked in was located on the second floor in one of three hangars where large bombers parked. On that same floor, Arthur would climb on the wings to inspect the planes.
“That’s what I always took for a run, to climb up onto the wings and wing walk on the ground to the end of the plane’s wing,” Arthur said. “And, there were these offices on the second floor and she always opened the windows and I’d stand there and talk to her. It sort of looked funny, but it worked.”
“He tells me he threw a note in the window, but I don’t remember it. He could have,” Alice added.
What began with window talks soon turned into them dating and later, a proposal.
Arthur proposed to Alice in the spring of 1943 at a park by her apartment.
“Things just worked out the way they were supposed to,” Arthur said. “We just had united ideas of what we wanted to do.”
Before they were married and while they worked at the bomber plant, they went to shows together at the Orpheum Theater.
“We had a good time in Omaha, you know, they had big-name concerts there and different bands that would come at the Orpheum,” Alice said.
They would also go out for cherry Cokes at the drugstore down the street, which Alice said was a big deal in dating at the time.
Since they didn’t have a vehicle at the time, they relied on a streetcar for transportation.
“The streetcar came right around the apartment building where we lived, and at night, you’d hear this awful rumble and you’d think it was thunder or something,” she said.
Shortly after their wedding, they took a train ride to Watertown, Wisconsin, for Alice to meet Art’s family for the first time. Art had already met her family in Ewing.
“I remember the train ride we had to Wisconsin, that old noisy train that we went on,” Alice said. “There were still soldiers on the train that were traveling on, I suppose to a camp up there.”
In Wisconsin, she was able to meet Arthur’s mother and siblings.
“His father wasn’t living, but his mother and two brothers and his sister were living in Watertown, Wisconsin,” Alice said. “That’s where we went and we stayed there for a while. And then, we moved back to Nebraska because that’s where I’m from.”
When they left Wisconsin, they moved to Neligh in 1946, and lived in a friend’s apartment in the upstairs floor of the house they later bought and have lived in ever since.
In Neligh, Alice worked at the county clerk’s office and Arthur first started work at the Council Oaks grocery store.
“When we came back to Nebraska, then the war was over and jobs were hard to come by,” Alice said. “So, Art naturally wanted to be into the electrical stuff, but he went to the Council Oaks store here in Neligh as assistant manager for a couple years.”
He also worked at the John Deere dealer and eventually worked as an electrical contractor and had his own business called Art’s Radio and TV. He also served on the fire department, the school board and belonged to a radio club called the Buzzard’s Roost.
In his job, Arthur was responsible for keeping three stations on the air.
“Those three towers that are 5 miles south of town here, we took care of that and serviced it and I was on call of course when it went off and people didn’t have that particular station,” he said.
At the time, television was new to Neligh and the couple was thrilled to own one.
“When we first came here was when television was first coming in, you know, it was just new,” Alice said. “I think we had the second television in town. You could hardly see a picture on it, but oh we were so excited when we saw the image on the screen.”
Six years into their marriage, Arthur and Alice had their first child, Jacquelyn. After having a daughter, Alice cut down on work to take care of her and would occasionally fill in at the dentist’s office. She also volunteered for American Red Cross and served on the canvassing board for elections.
Together, they had another daughter, Pamela Schwartz. They also now have five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
When their daughters were younger, Arthur and Alice would have picnics after Sunday church and then go fishing at what used to be called the Sportsman’s Club on the Elkhorn River. They would also have card parties with friends in Neligh and take trips to what they called “the farm,” which was where Alice’s parents lived in Ewing.
Additionally, their family liked to travel for summer vacations, according to their daughter, Jacquelyn Dekker.
“Dad would always insist that we would take off in the summers for family vacations when we were kids,” she said. “And one year, we came to Wisconsin to visit our grandma – his mom – and his brothers and sisters. When we were young kids, we visited 29 states and Mexico and Canada.”
Recently, Dekker surprised them and put an anniversary ad in the Antelope County News without them knowing.
“Just to pay tribute to my parents means more in the world to me than one can ever imagine,” she said.
Alice said they recently had people approach and congratulate them at a restaurant on their 75th anniversary.
“As we were going out, there were probably four ladies and four men and they said, ‘Congratulations on your anniversary.’ And I was like, ‘How did you know?’ ‘Well, we just heard people talking about it,’” she said. “So, anyway, they just couldn’t believe that we were married that many years and are still walking around, with a cane part of the time.”
For their 25th anniversary, close friends threw a celebration for them at the motel, baked a wonderful cake and invited other friends to attend.
Down the road in their 50th anniversary, Jacquelyn and Pamela threw a celebration at the Legion, where they renewed their wedding vows.
“My sister and I threw them a party down at the Legion in Neligh. We had over 350 people that showed up, which was quite a sizeable amount,” Dekker said.
Several years ago, Dekker said she and her husband, James, took them to revisit the church where they were married, as well as their former apartments, when their family was invited to a wedding in Omaha.
“To see the look on their face and their happiness, I’m so glad we did this because it was something they can always remember back on,” she said.
According to Alice, they’ve celebrated enough anniversaries, so she told her daughters they didn’t want another gathering this year.
“We’ve gotten so many cards over the years and we don’t like to throw them away, and so we’ve got four cards already and our anniversary isn’t even here,” Alice said.
While they don’t want any celebrations, they hope to go to an outdoor church service in the park.
They both said they are grateful for relationships with people in town who bring them food and check on them daily, as well as with their church friends.
To this day, Alice and Art still keep their faith strong and dedicatedly attend church at Calvary Bible Church on Sundays and go out to eat at Mama’s and Nana’s Cafe after.
“Art was an elder in our church for years and I played the organ for 30 or 40 years. I just gave up this past year,” Alice said.
When facing difficult times, it has been this faith that has kept their love glowing.
“As the years go by, you have your ups and downs. But, as a whole, we’ve had a wonderful life and we’ve always tried to be faithful to the Lord and he’s helped us,” Alice said. “So, our standby now is the Lord, we have to call on him every day to help us.”
For Dekker and her sister, their parents’ relationship is a traditional kind of love that has set a strong example for them.
“They serve as role models for my sister and I and for anybody as a married couple,” Dekker said. “Their God is first, their family is second and their friends are third. Our family motto has always been to ‘love one another as God loved you.’ And, I think they are the epitome of what an old-fashioned marriage and love used to be.”
While their marriage started as an adventure, it has developed into a deeper understanding between the two.
“It’s been a wonderful adventure is how I’d put it to start with,” Arthur said. “And then over the years, it became very knowledgeable, knowing each other needs, wants and things like that.”
This beautiful sense of faith, understanding and consideration for one another will continue on day-by-day even as their marriage surpasses 75 years.
“He says ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ every day. I don’t know how many times a day he tells me that,” Alice said.