Returning to the beginning

Weldon Sloan first spotted the "tall, slim gal" in the ping pong room at Southern Oregon University in 1940.

"I was very impressed and asked if she'd perhaps like to participate in a game," he said, but admitted that he was painfully shy back then and it took another two months before he screwed up the courage to ask her on a date.

Friday, Weldon and his ping pong opponent, Lucy, celebrated 65 years of marriage in the same hotel they spent their honeymoon &

the Ashland Springs Hotel, which back then was known as the Lithia Hotel.

"We'd hoped for the same room at the same rate," said Weldon. "But they wouldn't go for it."

Weldon, 85, and Lucy, 86, live in Wilsonville, near Portland, and have seven children to brag about. Weldon said he's not Catholic, but a rather "passionate Protestant."

He grew up in Phoenix, where his parents taught school, and Lucy grew up in Iowa. Weldon studied business at SOU, then known as Southern Oregon Normal School. Lucy, who'd been teaching school in Iowa, came to Oregon one summer to visit her father and stepmother. Someone suggested she needed more education, which is how the two of them met on their first day of college.

In addition to school, Lucy took a part-time job as an usherette at the Varsity Theatre.

"Oh, I just loved that job," she said. "I walked around with a flashlight and made sure there wasn't any hanky panky going on. I watched all the movies and used to sneak Weldon in. And I got to wear the nicest little blue outfit."

"Yes," said Weldon, with a grin on his face, "it was a very nice outfit."

World War II broke out in 1941, and in 1943 Weldon, who was in the Army, got his marching orders for Africa. The couple decided that was as good a time as any to get married.

But money was tight. Lucy only made 32 cents an hour at the theater.

"So we went to the bank and asked for a $50 loan so I could buy a dress and shoes for the wedding," Lucy said. "That's probably how we got the $5 to stay at the Lithia Hotel, too."

The couple married at Weldon's parents' home in Phoenix and then hitched a ride to Ashland for a two-day honeymoon before he left for Casablanca.

He returned to Oregon in December 1945, secured a job with Pierce Freight Lines and worked toward finishing his college degree in Eugene. In the '60s, he and some buddies started their own transportation management company, where he worked until retirement 22 years ago.

Looking back

The two sat in the Ashland Springs Hotel lobby Friday, reminiscing about their lives together. Sixty-five years ago, the newlyweds played practical jokes on the hotel's elevator man, ringing his buzzer and then running off like ornery children.

Today Weldon double checks that Lucy hasn't left anything behind, something she admits she's notorious for.

"I've driven 20 miles to retrieve her purse," he said, bopping her bottom good-naturedly with their 1940 SOU yearbook.

Both are extremely proud of their children, who have about 42 years of higher education between them.

"They're all successful, responsible citizens who've never been arrested or got mixed up in drugs," Weldon said. "I think that's a hope for every parent."

Both offered their advice to the younger generations about how to have a successful marriage.

Lucy highlighted the importance of committing to vows taken at the wedding.

"And you must share your deepest, innermost feelings. That's not the easiest thing to do," she said, adding that she and Weldon have never had a fight. "We've had disagreements, but we've always worked it out."

Weldon said that, over the years, couples change.

"And you have to tolerate and accept that change," he said. "Marriage is not a short-term encounter, even though that's what it seems to have turned into these days."

Weldon said love, patience and understanding are absolute musts for a solid marriage.

He got quiet for a moment, removed his glasses and dabbed at the wetness in his eyes. "She's a good ol' gal. I can't imagine there's been two other people who have had such an enjoyable life."


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