Couple’s secret to 70-year union is merely success

Marion Watson pointed to a great-looking couple in a snapshot from 1930.

I saw in the photo a handsome pair, side by side in their south Everett apartment.

They were honored on the date of their 50th wedding anniversary.

The party was delightful when they observed their 60th wedding anniversary.

Won’t it be lovely, Oct. 6, when they get family hugs on the event of their 70th anniversary?

Not getting along with your significant other? Can’t imagine seven decades under the same sheets? Marion doesn’t even know where the years went.

“It seems like it wasn’t that long ago we had our 50th,” he said. “The 60th flew by.”

Though the longevity of their marriage has been matched and surpassed by other local couples, their story intrigued me for a special reason. They both went to college as fortysomethings and took jobs teaching school.

Marion, who celebrates his 90th birthday today, was born in Idaho. He dropped out of school and worked full time at age 14 to help support his family. He made sure his younger brothers and sisters had the opportunity to attend high school.

At age 20, working at a sawmill in Snoqualmie, Marion eloped with his sweetheart, Rachel Prouty, 17. They were married in Yakima, came home to Snoqualmie the next day, and the new Mrs. Marion Watson cleared out her belongings from high school.

After raising their children, the couple moved back to Idaho where Marion earned his GED certificate and attended Northwest Nazarene College. He worked his way through by stoking the old campus heating plant.

He finished his degree at Central Washington College, now Central Washington University, and began a teaching career that ended with 17 years at Machias Elementary School.

That was a nice story, but it gets even better.

While Marion attended Northwest Nazarene College, his wife, who also didn’t finish high school, also became a student. Rachel followed her husband to college in Ellensburg, then studied at Everett Junior College, now Everett Community College, and graduated from Seattle Pacific University.

Guess where she spent 17 years teaching? Next door to her husband at Machias Elementary School.

They retired in the mid-1970s.

I found them in good spirits at their sparkling apartment. Rachel, 87, suffers from some circulatory problems. Marion aptly cooks and cleans for them both.

“We just sort of ‘bach’ it,” he said. “We do what we can. What we can’t do, we leave alone.”

Marion runs errands and gets them to church now and then.

“I drive a 1999 Buick,” he said. “I’m trying to get 3,000 miles on it so I can get it serviced.”

They both laughed at his remark.

They talked about how much they loved traveling together in younger years.

“There are two things I think would have made me a better person,” Marion said. “I never went to high school. I was never in the service.”

Rachel reminded him he also wanted to play baseball.

I wanted to hear the details of their courtship. On their first date, they went to the Puyallup Fair. They didn’t have any spending money, but there was gas in the car, they said.

Marion was the only man she dated, Rachel said. He wouldn’t confirm how many dates he had before finding his beautiful bride.

Rachel said they never had any really big fights. There aren’t any secrets to their long-lasting love, they said.

“What kept you hanging around all these years, dear?” Marion said to his wife.

“I thought it was a good place to hang around,” she replied.

No secrets, but success.

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