Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Ask LaVon Dea how to get to know your spouse and she will tell you to start a remodeling project. She will also tell you she wishes she had let her husband, Bob, install the tuna fish can.
"It would have made quite the conversation piece," she said, reflecting on one moment in 75 years of marriage that is being celebrated today.
Years ago, the two had a door to the back porch that was continually banging against the wall. LaVon caught Bob getting ready to cut a hole in the wall he planned to use the tuna can to create a recess for the door knob so it wouldn't punch a hole in the wall.
"Haven't you ever heard of a door stop?" she said to him.
But it was the hallway that led to the biggest argument between them. When their children were small, they had moved their home from Garfield to Magna and planned a complete remodel. LaVon wanted to change an existing doorway to a bedroom into a hallway leading to a bedroom and bathroom.
"I told her she couldn't do it," said Bob.
Bob went to work, and LaVon tore down the wall.
When Bob got back from work, he put the wall back up. The very next day, LaVon took it down again. And the next time Bob put that wall back up, he did it her way.
That disagreement was a huge one, but to their credit, it is the only one their sons can remember in a marriage that has spanned more than seven decades.
The Deas met as teenagers in Magna. LaVon had been going with Bob's best friend. When she was 16, she was in an automobile accident that injured her elbow. Bob, who was also friends with her brother, used to visit each day and massage that elbow.
"She figured out she had something pretty good so she ditched her boyfriend," Bob said. Even at 97, you can hear the pride in his voice of the 19-year-old boy who got his girl.
Bob and LaVon were married in 1933. He had $15 at the time. He bought her a ring, a suit for himself and a marriage license. She rented her temple clothing, and they borrowed a car.
"And we thought we were well off," said LaVon.
They were married in the midst of the Great Depression. Bob worked at the grocery store working six days a week, 12 hours a day, for $30 a month.
"Of course, a loaf of bread was only 5 cents back then, but nobody had a nickel," Bob said.
They had four sons together, and together they mourned the loss of one a twin boy who died at 17 months. The doctor couldn't tell them for sure what happened, but Bob and LaVon believe his death was the result of a fall the day before he died.
Over the years, they worked together as well. Bob worked at Kennecott during the day, and at night, the two of them went out and did wallpapering to earn extra money. They lived right around the corner from the theater at the time, so they left their boys to enjoy a movie while they went to work.
As soon as they felt like they could afford it, Bob and LaVon made a habit to go out on a date every Friday night something they have continued to this day. Only these days, they go out together in the daytime because Bob can't drive at night.
They sat beside another in the living room last week, reliving their memories together and sharing these stories with their sons Bob Jr., Kay and Dennis. But the one thing they would not say one word about was raising teenage boys. The elder Deas gave the younger Deas "the look," and the younger Deas just laughed, because they knew exactly what it was all about.
Kay, dubbed "the professor" by his brothers, finally explained.
"My mother has always emphasized the positive," he said. "She would never say anything bad about us, so she has a reputation for having angels."
"And it wasn't because we were angels," said Bob Jr.
The boys have long since grown up, and their little family now includes three daughters-in-law who Bob and LaVon love like their own; 13 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and 18 great-great grandchildren. At last count, that is.
"You better get on the phone and make sure there weren't any born in the night," Bob told his wife.
Bob and LaVon ordered their sons not to prepare a large celebration of their marriage. Even so, they enjoyed looking back on their early days together. They joke about how she can't hear him real well, but he is afraid to yell at her in case she would think he is angry. He insists the important thing is to always do what she says, and then they all laugh because she can't jump out of the chair and go after him as fast anymore."I just feel so lucky that at our age, we can sit here and talk to each other and reminisce; we have our memories, and our health," she said. "We can relive (the memories) and have almost as much fun as we did then."
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