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Dancing through 70 years

Photo by Regan Kohler/ Isanti-Chisago County Star. Don and Lillian Sommars share another dance at their 70th anniversary party Feb. 23 at River Hills, Cambridge.

Don and Lillian Sommars celebrated their 70th anniversary Feb. 23 with a dance.

The couple have been dancing since they met all those years ago, at a dance in Nimrod.

Surrounded by family and friends at their anniversary party at GracePointe Crossing's River Hills in Cambridge, Minn., where the couple now lives, both Don and Lillian recalled what they could about the secrets to making their marriage successful for 70 years.

"Learn to shut up!" said Don.

Lillian's take was, "Couldn't get rid of him, I guess."

The journey started as they went out square dancing and to the movies.

While Don was out in California working at a defense plant on airplanes, he proposed to Lillian the best way he could, given the circumstances.

"He sent me a diamond" in the mail, Lillian said.

Though neither Don nor Lillian were sure of exactly how long it took for Don to get her response, they recalled being married on a gorgeous day in 1942, with Lillian in a knee-length pink dress and Don in a nice suit.

The couple made their home in Verndale, and had two sons, Dennis and Wayne. They went on lots of trips through the years, enjoyed spending time in the mountains and, of course, dancing.

"Dancing was their entertainment," said son, Dennis Sommars.

Don is now 96, and Lillian 87. Their son, Wayne Sommars, said he moved to Cambridge to work as a school counselor. After his parents had to go to assisted living, Wayne said he brought them to GracePointe so they would be closer to family.

The Sommarses had a large turnout at their party last week, with accordion music by Eldon Eckert, one of Lillian's five brothers.

One of Don's former schoolmates happened to reside at River Hills, so they caught up at the party.

She told Wayne Don was her "oldest old-time friend from the old days."

Lillian said that her advice to couples is to never fight, which is how they made it to 70 years. Both she and Don advise not to get upset about little things, and to walk away from a fight until it blows over.

Anyone who would like to send their congratulations to Don and Lillian Sommars can write to them at:

1545 RiverHills Pkwy. NW

Cambridge, MN 55008.