Willard Boyer claims to know the secret to staying married for 62 years. “It’s easy,” he said. “Just do everything Ma says,”
Margaret Boyer was a bit less comic as she looked at her husband with a twinkle, “I just love being with him.”
Willard has been married to his sweetheart Margaret since soon after he returned from World War II where he was on a PT boat. Margaret had just finished nursing school and was working in Elgin, N.D., as a registered nurse.
Margaret doesn’t remember how the couple met, “probably bowling,” she said.She does remember that Willard’s uncle liked her and insisted that he meet the young woman.
“She was beautiful,” said Willard as to why he fell for her. She loved that he wasn’t smart-alecky.
The pair dated for about a year, they had lunch together and spent time together hunting jackrabbits before marrying in the Catholic Church in Elgin. There wasn’t much money for a wedding, so it was simple, said Margaret. She paid about $5 for her wedding dress.
“The girl that was supposed to deliver the flowers took the wrong road and never showed up,” Margaret said.
The couple settled near Elgin where they shared a home with his dad and her mother. She raised livestock, including cattle and sheep; he helped her out and worked as an electrical lineman for the local utility and they were together every chance they had.
“My parents were an awesome example of a close marriage,” said daughter Theresa Will, Executive Director of Barnes County, Valley City Health. “They worked together, played together, they do everything together.”
While working the lines, Willard saved a man’s life. The other man was up on an electric pole and somehow ended up hanging from the ground line. Willard climbed the pole, retrieved the man, carried him back down the pole and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived.
Willard earned an award from President John F. Kennedy for his heroism. He also earned even more adoration from Margaret who tells the story with pride.
Willard and Margaret raised seven children, five of their own – one boy and four girls – and two boys they adopted after their minister said they needed a home.
When one of their daughters became pregnant as a teen, Margaret insisted on taking care of that child also so her daughter could finish high school and college.
Now, Willard and Margaret live at the Legacy Place in Valley City. They’re happy there, and they’re together, which suits Margaret just fine.
They have their children, about 10 grandkids (Margaret can’t remember exactly how many) and some great-grandchildren.
“Being together and doing things,” is what has helped keep them together so long, according to Margaret. “We’re not always in agreement, we’ve had our ups and downs.”
“But God has been good to us,” she added.