Married as teenagers, couple celebrates their 70th anniversary
By Cindy Mullet
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
They met at a skating rink in their hometown of Kokomo, Ind. when they were 17 years old, married a year later and this fall they celebrated the 70th anniversary of that marriage commitment.
Jack and Juanita Chism say the 70 years have had their ups and downs but they always got along pretty good and never lost their love for each other.
“We have been blessed,” Juanita said.
Their 1947 wedding was a low key event. They went to the home of Juanita’s sister and the preacher came there to perform the ceremony. They have no photos from the day, but remember that after the ceremony they went dancing at Bunker Hill, a naval air station 12 miles north of Kokomo, Juanita said.
While they raised their family, two daughters and a son, in Indiana, their son and one daughter found their way to Eastern Montana as adults and when Jack and Juanita retired 18 years ago, they decided to move west also, Juanita said.
They had been driving from Indiana to Montana two times a year to visit. Even though they always looked for different routes, trying Interstates 70, 80 and 94 and even making a drive across Highway 2, the long drives were tiring, Jack said.
Since they really liked Eastern Montana and wanted to be closer to their children, they decided when they retired they would make the move. Finding a place here was hard. They were determined, however, and finally bought 41 acres on Hodges Road in Wibaux County, close to both their son and daughter, Jack said.
While they had lived in rural areas in Indiana where Jack worked in commercial printing businesses and Juanita worked for Haynes International, rural Montana was not quite the same. They were used to all black top roads and had to adjust to gravel roads and dust.
“It’s kind of hard to get used to,” Juanita noted.
The scarcity of trees was another adjustment for them, Jack said. They looked for a place with trees when they made the move, and their new home had some but not enough for him. He has planted over 100 trees on the place.
They are avid gardeners and quickly discovered that growing a garden in Eastern Montana was a lot different than in Indiana. Their ground has two or three different soils so they had to learn what would grow in each. They also quickly learned they had to do a lot of watering if they wanted anything to grow.
“Back in Indiana, anything would grow,” Jack noted. You could water it once and forget it.”
Even with the adjustments they have had to make, they are glad they decided to move to Montana. “We like it out here,” Jack said.
A big plus is having family close and being able to watch grandchildren and great grandchildren grow. They have seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren, most of whom live in Montana.
“It’s nice to have them close,” Juanita noted. Whenever we need anything they are here.”
They also enjoy sharing the special events in the lives of their grandchildren and great grandchildren. While they didn’t have a big celebration on the date of their anniversary, the family, including some from Indiana, gathered a month early for a combination anniversary and birthday party for a grandson, Jack said.
The last couple years they have slowed down a bit. They no longer put in a big garden. They don’t drive at night, but they still enjoy life and each other.
“We’ve had a good life,” Juanita said with Jack adding, “The Lord’s blessed us.”
Reach Cindy Mullet at