A recipe for lasting marriage: 'He takes care of me, and I take care of him'
Longtime Dickinson residents Albert and Ann Sevela know the reason why their marriage has endured for 70 years.
“He takes care of me and I take care of him,” Ann said while talking about their marriage. The couple moved into St. Benedict’s Health Center in early April after having lived in east Dickinson.
As she recalls, “We never did anything alone. If we bought anything or did anything, we did it together. We had one checking account. If we bought something we agreed on it. We never owned a charge card. If we didn’t have the money, we didn’t buy it.”
The couple celebrated their anniversary during a Mass on June 23 at St. Benedict’s, led by Rev. Keith Streifel of St. Joseph’s Church.
Ann Bayer grew up on a farm south of Lefor, one of eight children. Albert Sevela grew up north of New Hradec, in what the old-timers called the Snow Country.
Prior to their marriage, Ann moved into Dickinson where she worked for the Woolworth company.
“It was on Villard until it moved to the new place where it later closed up,” Ann said.
Meanwhile, Albert was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He was a deckhand aboard a Navy oiler. Even before he joined the military, he worked at the Dickinson Theater on Villard Street.
“We met when he came home from the service,” Ann said. “He was working for my Uncle Pete who had a business putting up wind chargers when there was no electricity on the farm homes. I was working in town at the time, and I met him at my Uncle Pete’s. I had a birthday party and invited him. He came to the party, and there you go.”
Ann and Albert didn’t own cars at the time, but that didn’t stop them from dating.
“We both lived in town and a bunch of us kids would go out for coffee,” she said. “Went went to shows for 25 cents.”
They were married June 23, 1947 at St. Joseph’s Church and moved to their home at 219 West Broadway. They lived there for 10 years until moving into their new home at 523 Colfax -- a block south of St. Wenceslaus Church.
They didn’t have children, but their home was alive with extended family -- among them a niece, Angie Hellman, whose mother was Ann’s sister.
Angie remembers heading over the the bottom drawer next to the refrigerator where the toys were stored.
“We lived out in the country and didn't get to town very often,” Angie said.” We were a big family and it took a couple of cars to get everybody to town. There were 12 in the family and we sat on each other’s laps,” she said.
When Angie’s dad died, they moved her mother,Theresa, to a house within a block of the Sevelas.
“We’d go over there pretty often,” she said.
“I didn’t host Sunday dinner as much as the holidays,” Ann remembers. “I did a lot of holiday cooking for family and friends. I never gardened, but did a lot of craft work. I took in sewing, and I did a lot of babysitting for other people.”
Albert started working as a helper for electrician Roy Young. When Roy was killed in a plane crash, Albert took over his business and hired Pete Feininger, renaming it S & F Electric. Albert went on to become a master electrician and retired in 1984 at the age of 62. He took up woodworking after his retirement.
“He liked to be by himself in the woodworking shop,” Ann said. “I’m a people person… but Albert is very quiet.”
Ann may have stopped collecting a salary, but she never stopped volunteering in the community. She worked at the ARC Aid, and was the supervisor for the Wednesday girls.
Their retirement years were highlighted by camping with a little popup van.
“Albert and I would go to Thermopolis to the hot springs in Wyoming,” Ann said. “It made you feel real good, but the aches and pains came back when you went home. My mother and dad used to go there all the time. We went practically every fall as long as we could go.”
Without children, the couple relied on each other,and of course, their niece, Angie.
“She helped me a lot whenever we needed something -- we ‘adopted’ her,” said Ann.
Angie recently cleaned out their basement for an auction sale.
“When we bought something new, we put the old stuff downstairs -- we might need it,” said Ann.
With such a large collection of stuff, Angie joked, “Oh my God, pray for good weather.”
The Sevelas had a strong faith.
“Church was very much important,” Ann said. “We went to church a lot. Albert used to usher for 32 years at St. Joseph’s.”
The couple is adjusting nicely to life at St. Benedict’s.
“I love it,” Ann said. “We are very satisfied and the food is good. We can’t complain. There’s a lot of girls here that I trained at Woolworth’s.”
Ann said the years have gone by quickly.
“All these years, like everybody else, we had disagreements, but we never went to bed mad,” she said. “I never thought we’d make 70 years, but we did.”