Bend couple married 79 years

Harry and Freda Fisher remember their first kiss in the 1930s

By Mac McLean / The Bulletin / @agingbeat

Published Feb 10, 2013 at 04:00AM

Harry Fisher has a few tips to share with married couples who are just starting out.

“(Being married) is a two-way street,” he said. “You've got to give and take. You've got to forgive and forget.”

Let God be your guide if you wind up in a situation where you don't know what to do and remember that everybody makes mistakes, the 97-year-old retired construction worker said Monday as he continued to dole out relationship advice from his home in northeast Bend's Orchard District.

These bits of advice might have a little more weight considering Harry and his wife Freda, 94, celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary on Feb. 2.

He was 17 and she was 15 when they tied the knot at downtown Bend's True Gospel United Pentecostal Church in 1934.

“It was love at first sight,” Harry said as he doted on his wife in their living room two days after their anniversary.

During their relationship, Harry and Freda moved from Bend to eastern Idaho and spent 25 to 30 years running a farm, pastoring a church and managing a construction company. They came back to Bend for their retirement in 1981 and are now living with their daughter, Doris Newman, her husband and one of their sons. They've raised or helped raise two children — including Doris and her brother Donald, now deceased — as well as seven grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren and six great-great grandchildren.

Their last family reunion was in July 2009 and drew what Harry said was “better than 60 of us together at the same time.”

“They've certainly been a good role model for us and our family,” said Doris, 77, who has been married to her husband for 58 years and was quick to add that her father, who is an ordained minister, performed the marriage ceremony.

Harry and Freda's marriage saw the final years of the Great Depression, World War II, the moon landing, the fall of communism, and the transformation of their childhood home as it grew from a mill town of only 8,800 souls to a thriving city with a population of 77,905.

The years have also taken their toll on the Fishers; Harry is hard of hearing and uses a wheelchair because the arthritis in his knees makes it hard for him to stand, while his wife is legally blind and also uses a wheelchair to get around the house.

“We had dirt roads back then,” Freda said as she remembered a childhood in Bend where horses and buggies were a somewhat common site in the more rural parts of Central Oregon. “That's what it was like, we had dirt roads.”

But their love for each other has stayed constant throughout this time, said Harry, who still remembers the night he and Freda first kissed. It was late one night and they were walking back from a choir practice that a woman in their church had hosted at her house on Fresno Avenue.

“We were getting ready to part and she said, 'Can I kiss you?'” he said, recalling where it all started. “I told her that she most certainly could.”