Lee and Ruth Amundson are closing in on their 70th wedding anniversary. They are originally from Henning and moved back to the area in 1974.

By Chad Koenen


Love stories are about as unique and memorable as the people sharing the experience.  ¶  Long before the days of apps and websites matching people together based on their interests and desires, people met the old fashioned way through chance encounters, blind dates and childhood friendships that blossomed into a romance over time. And in a time where marriages end in divorce nearly 50 percent of the time, all-while individuals tie the knot later in life, it is becoming increasingly rare for couples to be married for over 60 years.  ¶  However, don’t tell that to Lee and Ruth Amundson, as well as Tony and Karen Kawlewski, who all live at Willow Creek in Henning. Combined, the two couples have been married for nearly 163 years as they gear up for another Valentine’s Day together.

Tony and Karen Kawlewski are pictured at their 50th wedding anniversary nearly 13 years ago.

Originally from Henning, Lee and Ruth Amundson will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary on August 16. They never dated in high school, but Lee said he always had his eyes on his future wife.

“I was two grades ahead of her, but I always kept my eyes on her,” he said. 

After he got out of the military, Lee relocated to California where Ruth was living. They eventually met up in California and their resulting romance would include six children, 19 grandchildren and 17 great grandchildren.

After living in a number of locations across the country, the Amundson’s moved back to Henning in 1974 where they remain today. As the couple closes in on their seventh decade of marriage, the Amundsons said the key to remaining happily married over the years comes down to patience and compromise. 

“Patience is the key. You have to do some compromising,” said Ruth.

“You have to meet more than 50 percent,” said Lee about the need to meet more than just in the middle. 

Another important piece of advice is to never go to bed angry and work out issues with one another before signing off for the night.

“Never go to bed mad,” said Lee. “Whatever you have to do to get it worked out get it worked out and wake up happy.”

The Kawlewskis are closing in on their 63rd wedding anniversary in September and live in Willow Creek. The couple met in what was a very common way 50-60 years ago—at a dance. While they met at a dance in Frazee, Tony was already familiar with his future wife’s family as he was friends with her older brothers­—he just didn’t know they had a younger sister that would soon be the fancy of his eye.

“I knew her brothers, but I didn’t know they had a sister,” he said. 

After meeting in May, the future couple wed just a few months later in September. Tony said they were just ready to tie the knot, but with a laugh he said other people joked that the reason they got married so quickly was so he could get out of buying his girlfriend a birthday present. 

“We were ready. I was 24 and she was 21,” he said of being ready to tie the knot. 

Their marriage was blessed with four boys, 10 grandchildren, three great grandchildren and countless hours spent every summer at the Henning baseball field that was recently named after Tony. 

“We had a good marriage. We got along well,” said Ruth. “We have had a good life together there is no doubt about that.”

“If you can’t get along with my wife you couldn’t get along with anyone,” added Tony.

While Valentine’s Day has taken on a different meaning in recent years, both the Amundsons and Kawlewskis said they have been blessed to spend so much of their lives with their spouses through all of the good times and the difficult ones as well.