Tribune announces its Valentine’s story contest winners

Published 10:36 am Friday, February 8, 2013

Larry & Judy Olson

Even in tough times, couple stayed together

Fifty years is a long time to be married to the same man. But, I know I am lucky.

On Aug. 24 of this year we will have those 50 years.

Larry and I met through his cousin that was actually my best friend.

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When I was three months old, I had a retina blastoma. I had to have an eye surgery immediately because it was a cancerous tumor.

As a very young child I had to wear an artificial eye. When I was a teenager it bothered me to know kids might be able to tell.

When Larry and I started to get serious my mom asked me if I had told Larry about my eye surgery.

The day I decided to tell him, I was a wreck. I was sure he would leave me. But, needless to say, he knew it from the day we started dating. Boy, was I relieved!

We married after dating for a couple of years. I was 18, and he had just turned 21.

We have three wonderful kids and their spouses, eight awesome grandkids, along with some great future spouses and and two adorable great-grandchildren.

Every marriage has perfect days, but of course little fights happen now and then.

I remember one day we had encountered a middle-sized fight, and he was in the doghouse.

For 50 years I have packed his lunches for work. I usually pack it the night before. He never looks inside, so I decided since he was in the doghouse I would pack a can of Vets dog food, a can opener and a big spoon.

The next morning he picked up his lunchbox and headed to work.

All day I wondered how the prank went.

He brought the lunchbox home, and the Vets can had been opened and squashed, the spoon had been used and I wondered if he hadn’t read the label.

He worked at Wilson & Co. at the time. They fed the food to a hungry cat at the plant. I guess the joke was on me.

In 2010, while on a family fishing trip to Alexandria, a call came to me at the cabin.

The biopsy I had recently had confirmed that I had breast cancer. From that day on my life has been a journey of uncertainty and hope. Larry has been with me every step of the way. After chemo, surgery and radiation, things were going great.

In February 2012, my cancer decided to go visiting. It’s back, and Larry continues to be with me in Rochester for all my appointments and treatment.

Thanks to Pro Manufacturing he has been able to be a support for me.

Not only am I involved in this cancer journey, he struggles right along with me.

He is my soulmate and knows I’ll never give up.

I’m blessed and thank God he is in my life. Every day is a gift.

Judy Olson
Albert Lea

Wife has been impressing him for 78 years

My wife and I met for the first time 78 years ago. This meeting has been indelibly inscribed in my memory and continues to be so after all these years.

My wife and I were both farm kids living in northern Iowa separated by a distance of approximately four miles. It was late winter/early spring when my father went to purchase seed oats from her father, and I had the good fortune to go along.


There we were, two rather shy 4-year-olds meeting for the first time and being ignored by our fathers, as they were engrossed in their business at hand. This little girl, I didn’t even know her name, finally gathered up enough courage to tell me that she wanted to show me something up by the barn.

I followed her and watched her crawl through the fence and climb up into a rather large frozen manure pile and pick up a dead skunk by the tail informing me that her grandmother had killed it with a stick. Wow, a little girl daring to hold a skunk by its tail. I was totally impressed. So impressed in fact, that we were married 24 years later. We have now been married for 54 years.

Together, we have raised a wonderful family of four daughters who have given us seven super grandchildren — four girls and three boys. They are all well versed on the skunk story.

I continue to be impressed by Ardis, my wife. She continues in her role as a wife, mother, grandmother and homemaker with great courage and resolve. And yes, I do have flashbacks of precious memories of 78 years ago and they continue to be even today.

Harlan Bang
Albert Lea

Marrying young was a blessing for this couple

Whoever thought 30 years ago on Sept. 11 would come to mean what it does today? Even though to the world this day is remembered as a day of disaster and sadness, to me it was one of the best days of my life.


I married a man who has been my rock, friend and best partner in marriage, parenthood and life that any human being could be blessed with. With the persistence of a mutual friend we met and were married shortly after my 20th birthday when several thought we were too young to marry and that our lives ideas and ambitions would change not necessarily together. It’s been quite a journey over the 30 years and we have had our ups and downs and we each have our own strengths and weaknesses but together we balance each out beautifully. We’ve created a wonderful family. We’ve had a lot of great laughs, a lot of great times together and we will always have great memories. We are hoping and looking forward to spending another 30 years together if God so blesses us.

Shelly and Lee DeVries
Albert Lea

Wife was first a friend, and now his companion

I met my future bride Lisa when our family moved to the Alden area in 1976. I was a junior at Alden-Conger High School, and she was a freshmen. Lisa and her sister, Linda, are identical twins and were best friends with my sister, Karin.

Lisa, Linda, my mother, Marge, and my sister all worked together at Club 90 in Alden. My friends and I would frequently hang out there, and we made good friends with the Stenzel twins. Their infectious giggles were legendary.

I didn’t entertain romantic notions for Lisa until 1980, the year she graduated. I remember one particular evening, I joined Lisa and some of our mutual friends at the Broadway Twin in Albert Lea for a movie. I’m not sure how it happened, but the light just came on and I saw Lisa in a whole different way. I remember taking her home and on the way up the driveway, deciding that this was the girl that I was going to marry someday!

I have some very fond memories of the twins, and the pranks that they would pull on us from time to time. One in particular was the day my brother and I went to Fairmont and his car broke down on the way back. I had a date with Lisa that night and by the time we got back to Alden, I was late. I called out to her parent’s home to apologize and explain why. She then proceeded to chastise me for my inadvertent tardiness. Lisa later had to explain to me that it was Linda who had answered and was just pulling a prank on me! Not only do they look alike I discovered, but they sound exactly alike as well!

I recall the day that I proposed to her. I met her at our old stomping ground Club 90. It was a nice toasty July day, and she had just gotten back from a long bike ride to Albert Lea. I was awfully nervous, and it had to be the longest proposal in history. When I finally popped the question and she said yes, it was the happiest day of my life! My mother was working as a cook that day and we went over and told her between orders, and she got a bit teary but was filled with joy for us as were the rest of our family members.

We were married on Aug. 14, 1982, at St. Casimir’s in Wells. I was as nervous as a groom can be but when I saw her coming up that aisle I remember thinking that this is the most beautiful person on God’s earth and why was I so blessed? I told many people in the years after that the goodness of my wife helped me become a better person over time. Her deep faith in Christ helped save a poor wretch like me. Now together, 30 years later, we have been blessed with four wonderful children and three (soon to be four) grandchildren! Thank you darling for being my best friend, lover and my inspiration. I look forward to spending eternity with you!

Scott Bute

Love letter a husband will understand

Our love and life can be told simply through the vehicles that we have owned, driven, wanted to own or have moved on from.

• 1983 Volkswagen Rabbit. I used to watch out my kitchen window at the handsome guy across the street attempting to fix his car. His buddies would come over and stay up late turning wrenches. I was being too much of a chicken to introduce myself from across the street. This was the year 2000.


• Buick Century. The vehicle he would borrow from his mom to get to work. We slowly started dating during this time frame thanks to his sister for setting up our first date since he was too scared to ask me out.

• White Ford single cab. The vehicle we took to our first official date — the derby at the Freeborn County Fair! (Which I asked him out to.) We went to several movies in this truck also. Although, I myself almost ruined our dating relationship. I called my husband my movie buddy. How could I call my “hope to be boyfriend” a movie buddy? Nerves. Gladly, he understood how nervous I was, and we continued to date.

• Blue Pontiac Grand Prix. This vehicle decided to break down on us when we were visiting friends in Clarks Grove. That was the longest walk home and the best night. We had continuous items to talk about, and we held hands for a little bit. He made sure I wasn’t cold by offering me his sweatshirt.

• 1978 AMC Concord. This is the best car from our early dating. He let me drive at age 15 to the movies from Clarks Grove. I felt like a rebel and he, I think, felt proud that he let me drive it. This was also the car that we drove on his birthday on Aug. 14, 2001. I asked my husband (then dating interest) if he had a great birthday. His response was “it would make it better if you would be my girlfriend.” From that point on we were an official couple.

• Red Chevy S10. This truck I fell in love with. He bought it and with big tires on it, I felt like the “cool girlfriend” who got to drive the boyfriend’s truck in high school.

• Red Chevy Cavalier. At this stage in our life we were figuring out college and work. This was also the stage in life where my husband thought he was fast and furious. We learned patience with each other, budgeting our finances and I learned to drive a stick. This is where patience came into play. I had none and he had plenty to deal with me — one of the reasons I love him so much.

• 2001 Honda CBR 600F4i. One of his first motorcycles. Our lives revolved around riding, hanging with friends and being carefree. The excitement we had. If I had continued to list all the motorcycles we owned or I owned, this story would go on forever.

• One more important vehicle, my 2007 Honda 600 RR. I crashed this motorcycle. Seeing the worry in my husband’s face and the love he had by staying by my side the whole night in the hospital and for the countless times he had to wash my hair! I know I scared him, but he never once told me to quit riding. He knew I enjoyed it too much.

• White Pontiac Sunfire. My car. She was faithful, dependable and mine. He wanted nothing to do with a Sunfire and he had a Cavalier, the same car in my opinion. We were engaged, married, bought our first house and found out we were to be parents during the lifetime of the car.

• Green Ford Explorer: My new mommy mobile. My husband hates this vehicle, but he knew how much I loved this truck and he gave up the battle. This truck has been amazing, it is reliable, safe and it fits me to a T — great stereo and all. This topic of how much my husband hates my truck is our little inside joke.

• White Chevy Avalanche: This truck he loves. I didn’t feel it was necessary because we already had two SUVs. However, with my love for him, I understood to let this battle go. We love each other so much and we both are continuously trying to make each other happy. I know when to push his buttons to get what I want, like our second child! He knows when to not give up and to always be a dreamer. This is why our next vehicle is unknown but in the making.

• Classic car 19-something. This vehicle will surely test my patience by sitting in the garage not being worked on or breaking down from some reason or another. I know he will be excited every time our son asks to sit in this car to be or ask to help hold a tool. The possibilities that this car will bring and the moments we will share I honestly can’t wait for.

• 2007 Volkswagen Rabbit. The car I just saw at Dave Syverson’s car sale that reminded me of how we met also reminded me of the fuel cost savings and the excitement in my husband’s face that I wanted to own a five-speed car. It’s funny that our relationship may involve another Rabbit 12 years later.

I can’t wait to see what other vehicles will bring in our lifetime together. I am truly happy to say that we can look back at all the good memories and know there are only more to come.

Jenny Hrdalo
Albert Lea

Couple stronger than ever after 4 years of marriage

I started dating my husband, Nick Hoiseth, in late 2006. Five months after dating he got a job that required him to travel to North Dakota. We were always together, and I couldn’t bear to be away from each other so I decided to go with.

Nick and Alicia Hoiseth

We didn’t have much money so we set up a tent. I would wait for him to come back every day. Sitting at that campground six days a week, 12 hours a day with no vehicle in the heat was so boring, but was all worth it when he would pull up.

In 2008, we went to South Padre, Texas, with my family.

One night we all decided to go on a walk near the beach. Nick walked off to the side and said, “Alicia, come here.” I said, “What are you doing? Hurry up, we’re going to lose everyone!” He then got down on one knee, pulled out a beautiful ring and said, “Alicia, will you marry me?” I screamed “YES!” He picked me up, spun me around and kissed me. It was spring break with college kids everywhere, but I didn’t care. I ran down the sidewalk screaming, “Mom, Nick asked me to marry him!”

We have been married for four years now and have an adorable son. I can honestly say I married my best friend and have a relationship that is amazing. He is a wonderful father and husband and I love him so very much.

Alicia Hoiseth

Lake Mills


Winner chosen

Judy and Larry Olson’s story won the Tribune’s love story contest. They won a $50 gift certificate to Crescendo in Albert Lea. Look to the Feb. 14 edition of the Tribune for a feature on the Olsons.