Together forever: Wadena couple to celebrate 75th anniversary on Friday

Longtime Wadena residents Robert and Ruth Fisher will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary this Friday. They were married in a Menahga church parsonage on Dec. 30, 1947.

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Ruth and Bob Fisher in their Wadena home on Monday, Dec. 26, 2022. The couple will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on Friday, Dec. 30.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

WADENA — Three-quarters of a century. That's how long Robert and Ruth Fisher have been partners in life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

The Wadena couple said their marriage vows in a Menahga church parsonage on Dec. 30, 1947, and have been together ever since. Their secret for staying together? Their faith.

They believed in the part of their marriage vows where they pledged, "til death do us part," Ruth explained, adding, "For us to divorce would have been a slap in the face for Jesus."

Also, Ruth added, "We were too busy to worry about doing anything else," and by the time their children were all grown and their missionary work done, she joked, "We were so old that the other side of the fence didn't look any better." Humor, obviously, also played a role in their longevity.

Their path through married life hasn't always been easy, however. They raised six children together — five biological, and one adopted — but lost one son as a baby, at just 11 months old, and another to medical conditions at age 50, in 2010. Their adopted son also passed away a few years ago, which means that they have just three children still living — all daughters. One daughter shares their home with them, while another lives just five miles away. The third is living in Sun Prairie, Wis. (a suburb of Madison). They have one grandson, now 47 years old, who lives in Poynette, Wis.


Their advice to couples who plan to marry young — Ruth was just 16, Bob 20 years old when they made their vows — would be to wait until their later 20s, as "sometimes what you think you want changes as you get older."

'We met at a sawmill'

Though their first meeting might have been a bit less than the romantic "meet-cute" that starts off most Hallmark movies — they first laid eyes on each other at a sawmill owned by Bob's father, he said, when Ruth's dad brought some logs there to be processed into lumber — their courtship ran the usual course, with gatherings at friends' homes when finances were tight, or movie dates at the local theater (which doubled as a dance hall, Ruth said).

"Back then, young people would meet at somebody's home — we'd walk over there, and play games," Ruth recalled. "Nobody had any money, so we'd just go over and have fun with the neighbor kids."

Occasionally, however, Bob's dad would give him a dollar to bring his girlfriend to the movies. "We could both go to the show, have a grape pop and a dish of ice cream, all for that dollar," Ruth said. One of their fathers would supply the vehicle for them to make the trip into Sebeka, "and that car had gas in it," Ruth said, so they didn't have to worry about transportation costs.

'We should get married'

When asked how Bob proposed, Ruth said, "I'm not sure he ever did."

After they had been dating for a few months, there came a day when Ruth was hanging out with Bob at the garage where he worked. Out of the blue, she said to him, "We should get married." He agreed — and that was that. They set a date, and after saying their vows in that Menahga parsonage in December 1947, they set out in their old 1929 Pontiac pickup on a honeymoon trip to their new home in Sherburn, Minn., where Ruth had spent much of her childhood (though she was born in Iowa).

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Bob and Ruth (Conlin) Fisher outside the Menahga church parsonage where they were married on Dec. 30, 1947. Seventy years later, the Wadena couple are still together.
Contributed / Bob and Ruth Fisher

On the trip to Sherburn, their pickup broke down and took most of the money they had with them to repair it. They just had enough left to purchase a couple of candy bars to munch on. "They were Milky Ways," Ruth said. The young couple settled in Sherburn for a while, and Bob got a job working as the foreman at the local Ford garage, making $1 an hour. Their initial grocery budget was $4 a week.

In 1954, the couple moved from southern Minnesota to the tiny community of Oylen, in Wadena County. They purchased a small farm, which they operated while Bob continued to work for the local Ford garage. A little over a year later, in the fall of 1955, the farm operation was burned to the ground by some hay that had blown into an electric fence, catching fire.


Over the years, the couple lived in several Minnesota communities, including Sherburn, Sebeka, Oylen and Verndale as well as Wadena, but for the most part their six children — five biological, one adopted — were raised on a small, 160-acre farm north of Verndale, which they purchased in 1962.

They operated the farm in addition to their Verndale dealership, Fisher Auto Sales, which they started up after moving to Verndale on April 1, 1958.

Bob worked on a wide range of vehicles there, from tractors and school buses to cars and trucks of all sizes, and also sold cars, while Ruth did the bookkeeping and administration work for the business. "I worked on all the school buses for Verndale," he said.

For the first few years, they had lived in a small house on the same property as the dealership, saving up money to purchase the family farm, where they stayed until purchasing their current home in Wadena, which borders Sunnybrook Park. The couple has made Wadena their full-time home since selling the farm in 2007.

After retiring from the dealership, and from farming, the couple went into missionary work, traveling to various locations including Hawaii, California, Florida, Texas and Arizona. In one instance, Bob recalled, he repaired a Ford pickup for a preacher in El Salvador, who made the trip to California to pick it up and take it home with him.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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