Kenitzers celebrate 60th wedding anniversary

Baker couple Del and Jan Kenitzer, who celebrated 60 years of marriage August 31, say the secret to a happy partnership is never going to bed angry. “Except for maybe when I was in the hospital,” said Del, “Jan and I always kissed each other goodnight.”

By Angel Wyrwas

Baker couple Del and Jan Kenitzer, who celebrated 60 years of marriage August 31, say the secret to a happy partnership is never going to bed angry. “Except for maybe when I was in the hospital,” said Del, “Jan and I always kissed each other goodnight.”

They both agree that every day together is a gift. “Many things can happen in life,” said Jan. “The next day is not guaranteed and we never wanted to take our marriage for granted.

Del grew up in the little town of  Bucyrus, N.D. After graduation, he joined the army and was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. “We would get weekend passes and go to nearby Spingfield,” said Del.

It was then that some friends introduced him to Jan, who was attending beauty school there at the time. “I always said that it was my 56’ Chevy that she fell in love with,” said Del. “But you changed cars,” said Jan, “and I didn’t change guys!”

Del returned home and began a job with Montana Dakota Utilities in Dickinson, N.D. “I called and asked her if she would come see me if I helped her with a train ticket,” said Del. Jan accepted and during her visit they became engaged.

They said ‘I do’ in a little Lutheran Church in Reeder, N.D. “And we still do,” said Jan. “I think those three letters in two words are really important and people should think about them before they get married,” said Del.  “We’ve said ‘I do’ a million times over the years. ‘I do’ in sickness, ‘I do’ when it’s rough going, ‘I do’ always.”

After two years in Dickinson, Del was transferred to Hebron, N.D. where he worked for the next 12 years. They had three children, DeeDee, Wincel and Kenny. After obtaining her North Dakota beauty license, Jan opened a beauty shop in the couple’s converted garage. She operated that business for seven years. “I remember when we were young with children and we were just strapped,” said Del. “One night for an extremely rare treat, we took money out of Jan’s till and went out for dinner.”

Kenitzers transferred to Baker in 1971. Del worked for MDU for nearly 39 years before retiring. Jan stayed at home with the children as they got older and more involved in extracurricular activities. She volunteered for band and drill team, often doing the girls’ hair. “Hair pieces were big then and took a bit of work,” said Jan. Kenitzers also owned the Sagebrush Inn for 29 years before selling it in 2005.

After retirement, Kenitzers started wintering in Arizona. “First we went down with our motor home and stayed in a campground,” said Jan, “but we eventually bought a house.” After 19 years, they have recently sold their Arizona property and decided to return to Baker for good. “We made some very good friends there and will miss them but I know they will visit here and hopefully we will visit Arizona from time to time,” said Jan.

Del and Jan have shared many wonderful adventures together. They’ve traveled to Alaska in their RV with some friends for several months and also visited the Panama Canal. Their best adventure though was raising their three children and spending time with their nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Kenitzers attribute most of the success of their marriage to their faith. “I was born and raised Lutheran,” said Del. “And I was raised Baptist but became a Lutheran,” said Jan. “I think she turned out a better Lutheran than me,” laughed Del. Their faith held them up in times of strife and guided them to enjoy the truly important things in life.

In honor of Del and Jan’s anniversary, their children gave them a yorkie. Her name is Brandy and she is nine months old. “She is incredibly spoiled but we enjoy her so much,” said Jan. “She is truly the love and the pain of our life,” said Del. They agree that Brandy gets them out of the chair.

Kenitzers children hosted an open house anniversary party for their parents Aug. 26 at the Baker Senior Center. “We never really thought about 60 years,” said Jan. “It just happened. God willing, we’ll have another year and then another…one day at a time.”

      



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