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Love endures for Sisters couples
— By Jim Cornelius —

All the wedding planning — the perfect dress, the custom rings, the carefully crafted personal ceremony — serve one purpose: to launch a successful and happy marriage.
Two Sisters area couples who have been together for more than 50 years spoke with The Nugget about the long road that follows from the magical wedding day.

GriffinsBill and Carol Griffin: “We met in high school,” Carol recalled. “He was a senior, and I was a sophomore. In those days, that was the way it worked. We got married right out of high school.”

But that didn't mean they settled down — at least not in the conventional sense.

Bill was a professional baseball player, a left-handed pitcher who signed in 1955 with the Portland Beavers, part of the St. Louis Cardinals farm organization. For most of a decade Bill played for a variety of teams across the United States — and Carol went with him.

They finally ended up for one season in Japan, where American players were in demand as the Japanese turned their passion for the American national pastime into a viable program of their own.

“It was really interesting,” Bill said. “That was their major leagues, but in classification compared to the States it would have been like an AA team.”

A maximum of three Americans were allowed on each team.

“They were learning the game then,” Bill said.

Figuring he had gone as far as he could with baseball, Bill quit the diamond in 1962, and the couple really did settle down, with Bill taking a job at McCall Oil where he had often worked during the off-season.

“He said, ‘I'm done,' and I was really upset, because I missed spring training,” Carol said.
The couple moved from their hometown of Richland, Washington to Portland where they would stay for the next three decades and more. The couple had their first child in 1964, with another son to follow.

Bill developed a career at McCall Oil where he quickly moved into management.

“He worked for them for 42 years and never missed a day of work,” Carol said.

Carol was also a career woman. She started her working life employed at General
Electric at the Hanford nuclear reservation, then worked as an executive secretary before going into business for herself.

“I went into business for myself for about seven years,” she said. “I had a figure salon in Portland.”

She closed her working career as a catering manager for a major hotel.

The couple, who had been vacationing at Black Butte Ranch for years, moved to Sisters in 1998. Bill coached Outlaws pitchers for a season and the couple fell right into the rodeo and horse riding culture of the area.

The couple never expected anything other than a long and successful marriage _ it was what was expected in their generation.

“In those days, you just stayed married,” Carol said. “If you had any problems, you worked them out.”

Under the circumstances Carol had to learn to work things out in a hurry. The couple was married in November and off to spring training in March.

“I was way too far away from mom to come home if I got mad at him,” Carol said.

The years of travel together laid a strong foundation of respect and communication.

“It's love and mutual respect,” Bill said. “She's my best friend. We do almost everything together. She can't get rid of me. And, I pretty much do what I'm told.”

Carol notes that Bill was always supportive of her endeavors, even in a day when career and entrepreneurship were not that common for women.

“I suppose (Bill) being able to let me be me was a good thing,” Carol said.

DuehrensBill and Mickey Duehren: Bill and Mickey Duehren met on a “semi-blind date” in college and spent a summer as a couple. Then, Bill decided to go back to the girl he'd been dating during the school year.

“That kind of pricked my pride, being put aside,” Mickey said.

She sent Bill a picture of them as a couple, and that gave Bill some second thoughts.

“And when the little gal came back, the spark wasn't there anyway,” Mickey said.

The couple reunited and got married soon after college. A child followed 13 months later. Fifty-one years later, they're still together.

Unlike the Griffins, the Duehrens' bond was not forged in years of travel together before the kids came along. Their marriage endured periods of separation where Bill was away from his wife and his children.

It started with a brief stint as a draftee in the Army, which ended early as Bill was regarded as having “essential skills” as an engineer in the private sector.

He started his career with General Electric's medical services division, overseeing the development of pacemaker technologies.

“Implantable pacemakers were just starting to be used,” he said.

The industry was volatile, and afetr years working in Boston Bill went to work for another pacemaker manufacturer who transferred him to Minnesota.

Mickey didn't want to leave Boston for Minnesota, nor did the couple want to pull their three teenaged children out of their established parochial schools, so Bill headed west, while Mickey stayed in Boston. Bill flew back to visit about once a month.

“His life was rougher,” Mickey acknowledged. Bill had a lonely time, while Mickey's established social circle carried on. For her, the challenges of separation were “more coping with three teenaged boys.”

Eventually Bill was transferred to Portland, Oregon, which was great for his career — and a boon to the family.

“I thought I'd died and gone to heaven when they moved us to Oregon,” Mickey said.

Bill worked on major advances in pacemakers, seeing them encapsulated for the first time all in metal, then established a company that developed individual defibrillators.
It was satisfying work.

“It was interesting to be so close to development of medical items basically all through my career,” he said. “It's great to see the advances.”

The couple made a major change in the mid-’80s and moved to Sisters, where they bought Lutton's Decorating Center in 1986, renaming it Sisters Decorating Center.

They ran the operation in the Three Wind Shopping Center together for several years, then sold it in 1991. They continued to work for the new owners until 1997 before retiring.

Nowadays, Bill is active in Kiwanis, while Mickey is active with her skiing and hiking group.
She thinks it's important that couples cultivate independence and Bill said that “allowing that within the marriage” is critical to long-term success.”

Patience and accommodation are other important traits. Devout Catholics, the Duehrens believe that marriage “was taken more seriously” when they tied the knot. And when people get married and had children at a younger age, as they did then, “you grow up together.”

But Mickey sees some benefits to the cultural changes that have developed over the past five decades.

“Women want more from the husband,” she said. “And men and boys are brought up to be more thoughtful and sensitive.”

She's all for the changes that have expanded and changed men's roles with their children.
“My dad was a doll and I loved the man dearly,” she said. “But I'm sure that he never changed a diaper.”

Both couples are evidence that a blend of solidarity and independence, respect, patience and good communication can keep a couple together — and happy — long after the
wedding day.

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