When one hears of a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, the word "lucky" comes to mind. When you meet that lucky twosome, you come to know the meaning of the words patience and perserverance. You see the commitment manifested in their mannerisms and their composure. Such is the atmosphere surrounding Ellen and Al Patzer.

A true hallmark of their commitment is the letter writing campaign which led to their marriage. For 2 1/2 years during WWII, Ellen and Al corresponded. Al found himself stationed in remote sections of Alaska, California and Hawaii, and he and Ellen found themselves fallin in love. He proposed to her during the furlough when they met in person for the very first time.

The spirit of adventure and travel has factored into their lives ever since. With their retirements in 1976, Ellen from a teaching career, and Al from the Forest Service, they took to the road often visiting points north, east, south and west. They regularly camped in Arizona and on one trek explored 17 states in 7 weeks.

While listening to their stories of work in the classroom and work in the woods, it becomes clear that they drew on similar traits to meet their duties; creativity yes, but greater amounts of patience and perseverance. Al has the gift of ingenuity, marked by resourcefulness and by aptitude at discovering. Has has earned the reputation as Mr. Fix-it in these parts, and is continually crafting one-of-a-kind items. Neighbors know he can fix anything, as witnessed by this story. When he was working for the Forest Service and a gear broke on a piece of heavy equipment, Al stepped in, stayed up all night and fashioned a gear. The alternative involved a 3 month wait. When the new factory gear finally came, Al's gear was still turning and did so for long after. Ellen has taught second through fifth grades in Monument, La Grande, and John Day. She was the recipient of respectful and protective conduct while substituting, and as we all know, there is no higher praise in this profession! She also managed to hold classes while being the principal of Humbolt school for three years.

They have been blessed with two children and three grandchildren. And rounding out their home life is Al's talent with the accordian & harmonica, and Ellen's sewing handiwork. They give the impression that they're able to tackle just about anything as they stay active and involved with the community.

Their recent purchase of a motor home will enable them to get back on the road again in style. They don't plan their get-a-ways; the time comes when they look at each other and say "What are we sittin' here for, let's hook up and go!" I've got a feeling that when they sat with each other 50 years ago for the first time, that might have been how Al and Ellen took that trip to the altar!

1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved

..... Return to Grant County, Oregon Home Page
..... Return to "A Place Called Oregon"