A life full of love: Frank and Bernadette Boucher wed 56 years agoValentine’s Day fosters images of flowers, greeting cards, candy or going out for dinner. But true love can be demonstrated in the ordinary times that couples spend together or the commitment of a lifetime of marriage. Consider Bernadette and Frank Boucher (pronounced booshay) of Dickinson who have been married for 56 years.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Valentine’s Day fosters images of flowers, greeting cards, candy or going out for dinner.
But true love can be demonstrated in the ordinary times that couples spend together or the commitment of a lifetime of marriage. Consider Bernadette and Frank Boucher (pronounced booshay) of Dickinson who have been married for 56 years.
Bernadette was the eldest of 16 children and living near Rolette. Frank was one of 11 children and serving in the U.S. Army. Just a teenager, Bernadette met the charming soldier when he was home on leave from Fort Benning, Ga.
“She liked the Army uniform,” Frank jokes.
Bernadette and Frank kept in touch through letters.
“I saved the letters,” Bernadette said. “The kids will have fun after we’re gone going through the box.”
Bernadette was attending a Catholic boarding school in Willow City, when she and her brother dropped out of high school to help at home.
“Mom was going to have another baby and they needed help,” she said.
Bernadette and Frank’s courtship resumed when he was discharged in February of 1956.
“We had a lot of the same things in common — our faith, our nationality, we’re both French-Canadian,” Bernadette said.
A couple months later, Frank asked Bernadette to marry him. She had just turned 16 when they were married Oct. 24, 1956.
“He said I had to learn to play cards,” Bernadette joked. “He said it was part of the marriage vows.”
The wedding was held on a Wednesday morning in the Catholic church at Thorn — today, a little ghost town. They hosted a reception for approximately 60 family and friends.
The couple lived at Rolette where Frank worked construction until 1960 when they moved to Denver.
“We moved to get better wages,” Frank said.
Bernadette worked as a spot welder in a factory that made batteries for space missiles. They had two children at the time, Roxanne and Kevin.
They moved back to Rolette 11 years later, citing a better quality of life for the family. They operated a dairy farm for a while, and Frank went back to construction. Their second daughter, Jill, was born at Rolette. They lived there until 2008 when they moved to Dickinson to be near Jill and her family.
In addition to enjoying the activities of their grandchildren, Bernadette and Frank spend many hours at the Sunset Center where she serves as president.
Relatively new to the community, Bernadette said, “You meet all kinds of people your age and we do lots of fun things. We have something new going on all the time — pizza parties, yoga, bone building…”
Bernadette and Frank shared their formula for a successful marriage — give and take during disagreements and doing things together as a family.
“We’d go out once in a while, but it was mostly home parties,” Bernadette said.
They also live their marriage vows. When Frank suffered a stroke in 2010, Bernadette noted, “We’re into the sickness and health part now.”
The couple thinks family life has changed since their children were young.
“Now days, everybody does their own thing,” Bernadette said. “In our generation, we were together more.”
Their family includes Roxanne (Jeff) Dulany and three children at Rapid City; the Rev. Kevin Boucher at Nativity parish in Fargo and Jill (Tevis) Deschamp and three children at Dickinson.
Their son, known as Fr. Kevin by his parishioners, has assisted in 171 weddings over his 21 years as a priest.
“I make it clear they are preparing for a marriage, not a wedding,” he said from Fargo.
Boucher takes marriage from the perspective of the church.
“Each of us is created in God’s image and likeness; that from the beginning, there’s something in man and woman that reveals to us the face of God,” he said. “By becoming human, Jesus revealed to us the human face of God and the divine face of humanity. So when we look at one another, remember we’re looking into the face of God.”
He said the final key is the cross.
“The cross is the symbol that Christ gave his life for us,” he said. “Especially in marriage, we are to give our life to the other. That means, go into marriage not asking what you will get out of it. Go into marriage to give to it.”
Boucher said his parents have been good examples of the message.
“In some ways, Mom was the decision-maker and Dad was agreeable,” Boucher said. “That has worked well, particularly now that she is caring for him.”
He said his parents’ generation didn’t demonstrate their love with such external expressions as flowers.
“It was the respect shown to each other, even if they disagreed,” he said. “Faith was the center of their lives. They went to church every Sunday and during our farming years, the evening meal was sacred.”
He referenced the kitchen table as the center of life.
“If we weren’t eating, we’d be playing cards there or sitting around talking,” he said. “We didn’t talk about religion, but we learned what was right from wrong.”
Referencing that Jill was born 16 years later, Boucher added, “I always said my parents did a good job of raising her because Roxanne and I taught them now to be parents. They always showed respect with the decisions and choices we’d make and were always supportive of us in life’s decisions. It wasn’t the outward expressions of love, but a quiet confidence in God.”
The Bouchers haven’t made any special plans for Valentine’s Day, but they are looking forward to a fun day starting at 1 p.m. Feb. 17 at the Sunset Center. Everyone is invited to bring a valentine for exchange, to join in the cards and games and enjoy the cake and ice cream afterwards.