Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy 50th anniversary, Neal and Annette!

This weekend a very special couple is celebrating 50 years of marriage. Neal and Annette went to PLU with my parents, and in the early 90s they returned to the USA after living most of their lives overseas. I will never forget riding through downtown Portland on the way to a Boka Marimba concert. Neal was at the wheel, and he went the wrong way on a one-way street. His defense was "that's the way they do it in Egypt!"

At a dinner the other night celebrating an amazing young woman who is going off to college, Annette shared the story of how she met the love of her life. She was working food service at PLU, and Neal came through the food line. The next thing she knew, they were running through a field together, hand in hand! (Okay, so I'm sure I missed a few details along the way, but those are the two images I remember most from the story!)

Annette was the first person at Mike's side
when I was in surgery, giving birth to Chris
Annette was brought up in a large family of a Lutheran pastor. Neal was an only child. They both chose to go into professions of service--nursing and teaching, fitting professions for their generous personalities. After they got married, they had two children, Lindsay and Corleigh (Corey), who they raised around the world--when the kids were young, they lived mostly in Tanzania and India...and later on in Egypt. In fact, Corey is now the vice principal of Kodaikanal International School in Kodai, India, holding the position that his father held throughout his youth. Corey met his wonderful wife, Nandita, at school there and now they have a gorgeous little boy, Tarun. Sadly, Nandita and Tarun are stranded here in the U.S. while they wait for Nandita to receive her visa. We will miss them during their time in India! It's home away from home for all of them, though, and Neal and Annette hope to spend time there visiting as well.

On the shores of Lake Chelan,
before going to Holden Village in 2005

At one of Chris' birthdays
Neal and Annette are some of the kindest and most compassionate, generous, and loving people we know. We will always be grateful to them for caring for us when Chris was in the NICU with prayer, hugs, and food. They are extended family for us. I have so many fond memories of spending time with them over the past 22 years--eating Indian food together, having them be present at so many of our family milestones, seeing them tease back and forth with my parents, sharing silly jokes, figuring out how to care for people who need attention, and tons of laughter and great conversation about travel, literature, religion, and politics!

They lived in Costa Rica a few years ago,
and my parents had a great time visiting them

My all-time favorite of Neal and Annette!
I like to tease them that they know EVERYONE. They have got to be the most well-connected people in the universe...probably because of their friendly, open natures and ability to make connections wherever they go.

Neal is a gifted musician, but he's also incredibly humble and self-effacing. I don't think he has any clue how naturally talented he is. When I tell him, he just turns embarassed...but I will shout it from the rooftops on my blog!
Annette with Tarun, their beautiful grandson,
when he was a baby

Neal with Tarun
Neal and Annette are surrogate grandparents to our kids, and they are always so wonderful at coming to see them in their various plays and such. We truly appreciate their presence!
Coming to see Chris in "Grease" in middle school

Coming to watch Kieran in "Frankenstein: The Little Monster"
(A few weeks ago they went to see "Pinocchio" with Nandita and Tarun)

Reading a poem on Burns Night

Another favorite photo!
 Neal and Annette have taken on the mantle of a new project we've started at our church, the "Community Care Team." They match members up with other members in need. Even though they've both had their share of health problems themselves recently and have their hands full caring for their grandson, they always find time to help other people...whether they are members of our church or out in the community (such as women trying to get off the street in downtown Portland). They live their faith out loud...not by preaching or telling people how to live their lives, but by caring for people openly and lovingly.
Celebrating Annette's and my mother-in-law's birthdays in April--
Mike must have said something obnoxious!
Nicholas' second birthday--
He's always had a special relationship with Neal and Annette,
because they used to watch him that year one morning a week
Neal and Annette are a wonderful example of a marriage where each person respects the other person, appreciates their strengths and overlooks their weaknesses, and truly enjoys spending time with each other, either alone or in the company of friends and family. We look to their marriage as one to emulate, and their lives as inspirations to follow. We love you, Neal and Annette. Congratulations on 50 years together!


  1. Oh, I love this story! My husband and I met 10 years ago in November, also at PLU - we were in Choir of the West together. Many (domestic) moves later for grad school and my career, we are finally back in the Northwest with our sweet little Lute baby. Congratulations to another Lute couple! :-)

  2. Thank you, Marie, for this well deserved tribute to an amazing couple, and such wonderful friends. Bob and Shirley

  3. My parents met at PLU, too! Very cool you are back in the northwest together!