Lawrence and Donnetta Schaefer celebrated 50 years of wedded bliss at a party hosted by their children at the American Legion Sept. 30.
By Angel Wyrwas
Lawrence and Donnetta Schaefer celebrated 50 years of wedded bliss at a party hosted by their children at the American Legion Sept. 30. Well-wishers came to celebrate from all over Montana, North Dakota, Colorado, California and Florida. They filled the room, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and cake and visiting with the anniversary couple.
The Schaefers said ‘I do’ on Sept. 21, 1967. “I met Lawrence in Billings when he was driving truck for my brother Bud,” said Donnetta. “She was 31 and I was 27. I got myself a cougar,” laughed Lawrence.
Lawrence grew up on a farm/ranch between Plevna and Baker. After high school, he joined the U.S. Army. “When I got out of the service I spent some time partying but eventually decided that I needed to get a job,” said Lawrence. He worked for a cattle-hauling outfit out of Great Falls but eventually landed in Billings.
Donnetta (Boucher) grew up in Baker. Her dad owned and operated several businesses in Baker including Gambles and M & M Baker Implement. After school, Donnetta attended Hollywood Beauty College in Billings.
“We dated long distance for awhile,” said Lawrence. “Then we decided to get married,” said Donnetta. “The weekend we were supposed to get married Lawrence got stuck in Indiana. He couldn’t get his truck unloaded and didn’t get home until two days later than scheduled.” After Lawrence got home, the two headed to Sheridan, Wyo. to be married.
“When we got home, friends and family threw us a party,” said Donnetta. “Lawrence took me down Main Street in a wheelbarrow. People had torn off the labels on the cans in our pantry. We had a lot of surprise meals for awhile.”
To this new union came Donnetta’s four children: Rhonda, John, Keith and Scott. Donnetta also had another daughter, Pamela, who had previously passed away at the age of 2 1/2. Lawrence needed to be closer to home now so he worked several jobs in the area for the first years of marriage before taking a job with the Fallon County Road Department. He retired after 30 years.
Lawrence then went to work for Prince Construction doing road work. “I had an accident in a road grader and decided it was time to retire for good,” he said. Donnetta operated her own beauty salon for 40 years. They both retired in 2002.
“We had traveled during the summers,” said Donnetta, “often with my brother and his wife. We saw most states and golfed a lot.” “I have a gypsy wife,” laughed Lawrence. “She loved to go and loved to dance.”
After they retired, Lawrence and Donnetta started wintering in Parker, Ariz. “In 2015, Donnetta had a stroke while we were down there,” said Lawrence. “That has changed life for us quite a bit.” Even so, the couple plans to go to Arizona again this year.
Lawrence and Donnetta have an idea of what it takes to stay married for 50 years. “It’s like I told the kids,” said Lawrence, “don’t worry about the small stuff. Just take care of the big stuff. It’s the little stuff that aggravates you but it doesn’t matter.”
“We like to do the same things and enjoy being with each other,” said Donnetta. “And this ‘in sickness and health’ thing…Lawrence has taken such good care of me since my stroke. It really puts the pressure on him.”
The couple plans to enjoy their children, their five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. “We’re just going to take it day by day,” said Lawrence, “and take it in stride.”