Eganville – A local couple who agree there were sparks when they first met almost 80 years ago are celebrating an amazing milestone in their married life this Saturday.
Elmer and Nelda Bochert were married on June 12, 1946 and this Saturday will mark the 75th anniversary of the day they exchanged their vows at a ceremony at her parent’s farm in the Augsburg area of Bonnechere Valley Township.
“I never thought we’d make it this far,” she said during an interview outside their apartment at Fairfields last Friday. “I can’t believe it.
“We’ve really never been sick or had broken bones or been in the hospital any length of time,” she added.
“That’s because I farmed all my life and never had to work,” quipped Mr. Bochert, displaying his usual good-naturedness and enjoyment of life.
One of two children of Charles and Elsie Bochert, ‘El’, as he is affectionately known, grew up on the family farm in Grattan Township. ‘Nel’, as Mrs. Bochert is affectionately known, was one of six daughters and two sons born to Charles and Mary Ott of Augsburg.
Their initial meeting took place totally by chance but both recall being immediately impressed by the new person they met that day.
“My two sisters (Orpha and Alice) went with two brothers, the Weckwerths (Ernest and Verner), and they’d come to the house,” Mrs. Bochert explained. “And the one time they brought him (Mr. Bochert) with. (Mr. Bochert was a cousin of the Weckwerths).
“At that time, I thought he was kind of a nice-looking guy,” she added.
Asked what he thought of his future bride at that initial meeting, Mr. Bochert responded jokingly, “I didn’t have any choice, she started chasing me.”
She was 14 or 15 years old at the time and Mr. Bochert, who is three years older, was 17 or 18.
While neither could recall an actual first date, Mr. Bochert did remember one outing where they ended up at Pete Wing’s restaurant in Eganville with some friends one weekend.
“I might have had 25 cents or a dollar to buy her an ice cream cone,” he said.
They dated for about three years while they both were working on their parents’ farms, with Mr. Bochert popping the question when she was 18 and he was 21.
While neither one remembered exactly when or how he proposed, Mr. Bochert vividly recalled purchasing her engagement ring from Magdalene Bimm at the jewelry store her family operated in town. She said she did not hesitate when he proposed, believing she had a pretty good catch for a lifetime partner.
“And I was right,” she remarked.
They were married on a Wednesday, at her parent’s home by Rev. Bruno Paulson, with her brother, Clarence Ott, and his then girlfriend and future wife, Marion, acting as the attendants.
Back in those days, it was not uncommon for a wedding to be held on a Wednesday.
“That didn’t seem to matter, the people came anyway,” Mr. Bochert recalled of the big day.
The supper was held at the farm and a dance floor was built for the celebrations that took place later in the evening.
“When my sister Erna got married, dad floored the machine shed and it was all piled up neat. I put it on the wagon and drove with the horses out to her place and we laid the floor out.”
Mrs. Bochert said her two brothers-in law, Ahart Digulla and Edmund Verch played the fiddle and accordion respectively.
“We had good music,” she noted.
In those days, it was also customary to hold an “after-wedding” party on the Friday evening immediately following the nuptials.
“And we had another party,” Mrs. Bochert said. “That was at the farm too.”
They never took a honeymoon and following the wedding, they moved in with Mr. Bochert’s parents on the farm in Grattan.
“We lived at the farm for awhile with his mom and dad, and then they moved into Eganville,” she explained.
He continued to farm and when asked if she worked outside the home, quickly replied, “He wouldn’t let me.”
“I wanted to go and work in a store and he said, ‘No, no, no, the people will think I can’t afford to keep you’,” she recalled. “And I listened to him and just stayed on the farm.”
Their union was blessed with three children, daughter Diane (Joe Moore), and son, Earl, both of Eganville, and daughter, Lois, of Whitehorse, Yukon.
Mrs. Moore noted one time she reached out to some of the people who had worked on the farm for her parents for a book she was writing for them. They all talked about how nice her father was to work for and how, after a day’s work, they always enjoyed a great meal her mother prepared.
“I thought that was so neat, they were all saying the same thing,” Mrs. Bochert noted.
The couple moved to Fairfields Assisted Living Complex in Eganville eight years ago and have enjoyed their time there.
“We were kind of ready,” Mrs. Bochert said of the move. “We brought what we needed, the rest we sold.
“The kitchen staff and all the workers are all so helpful and nice. They really, really are,” she added.
“COVID took the joy out of it here,” Mr. Bochert said. “You couldn’t go the way we liked.
“Before, we’d get up in the morning, go downtown and have breakfast.”
Mr. Bochert no longer drives and so now they rely on daughter, Diane, to shuttle them around.
Over their 75 years of marriage the couple has had a few disagreements but they generally didn’t last too long.
“She didn’t talk to me for 10 years once,” Mr. Bochert joked.
“Everybody has times when you don’t agree on things,” Mrs. Bochert remarked.
In a story from their 50th anniversary, Mr. Bochert had said that “If I couldn’t go to bed at night and say Good Night, I didn’t want to go to bed.”
“You don’t want to keep them (a disagreement) around too long,” he stated in the interview.
Mrs. Moore said growing up she never remembers her parents having a disagreement, noting if they did, it was definitely done in private and not in front of the children.
A big part of the Bochert’s social life involved music and Mr. Bochert is well known for his musical abilities on stage with the guitar and vocals. He also called square dances at many house parties.
He would make guest appearances with his cousin, Gordon Bochert and his band and in later years performed at the jam sessions at the Eganville Legion.
Lost Son In 2020
Along with farming, Mr. Bochert used to assist his son, Earl, with his forestry business. Sadly, the Bocherts lost their only son last year after a valiant battle with cancer.
“He used to drive the truck in here (Fairfields) and talk to us and if not, he’d phone,” Mrs. Bochert said. “We didn’t know he was that close to the end, he never let on.”
Unfortunately, COVID restricted funeral services. However, Mrs. Bochert noted they received over 60 sympathy cards.
“So that tells you something,” she said.
They recalled how Mr. Bochert sang a couple of numbers with his son during one of the Christmas in the Valley presentations at Grace Church in Eganville in 2016, saying it was a very special time for them.
Mrs. Moore said the family held special celebrations for their parents on the occasions of their 25th, 40th, 50th and 60th anniversaries but really had nothing planned for the 75th due to COVID.
“The 25th was at their home, and the 50th was at the Eagle’s Nest,” she recalled. “And the 60th was in the arena and it was packed.”
Simple Formula For Success
When asked what the secret was to so many years of happiness, neither hesitated in replying.
“Be honest to each other,” Mr. Bochert said.
“And don’t always think it has to be always your way,” Mrs. Bochert added. “You have to share ideas and make it the best.”
Mrs. Moore recalled her parents saying marriage was like a road with curves and hills and you have to go through those together, and although they might not always be easy, that is how marriages succeed.
She said they have been great examples for her and her siblings as they move on in their respective married lives.
“People think it’s going to be easy, but it’s not,” she noted. “You do have to work at it and with them setting the example for the whole family, it just shows you it can be done.”
They both say religion was an important part of their upbringing and lives. She attended St. John’s in Augsburg and he attended Grace Lutheran before they wed, and then they attended Grace after their marriage.
They believe God has played a big part in their many years of happiness and good health.
“I pray every night and pray for my family,” she said.
The Bocherts have three grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all girls.
She is now 93 and Mr. Bochert turns 96 today (June 9). Mrs. Moore noted Valley Heritage Radio plays a special tribute to them each year and they can be seen waltzing in the kitchen of their apartment at Fairfields.
They are both looking forward to that dance again this year.