Couple celebrate 70th wedding anniversary

By Elizabeth Sias

When the polka music started, Donald and Lillian Sommars couldn’t help but tap their feet along with the beat.

Although they could no longer dance, the music brought them back to the day of their wedding, exactly 70 years ago.

Donald and Lillian Sommars celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Feb. 23 at GracePointe Crossing. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

Donald, 96, and Lillian, 87, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on Thursday, Feb. 23, in The Commons at GracePointe Crossing.

Their sons Wayne and Dennis, along with old friends, relatives and fellow GracePointe Crossing residents, spent the afternoon enjoying cake, coffee and live music provided by Lillian’s brother on accordion, with his wife on keyboard and a saxophonist.

Don had a stroke two days before the celebration, GracePointe Crossing Community Relations Director Julie Tooker said.

“His health has been going,” she said. “He’s been living for this day.”

Wayne added that his father had been looking forward to their 70th anniversary for a long time.

“I think he sees this as an accomplishment,” Wayne said.

Guests could look at a display of photographs from the Sommars’ life together.

Donald and Lillian are originally from Verndale, Minn. The couple met at a dance in Nimrod, Minn. Dancing and going to movies were their favorite activities to do on dates, and their son Dennis said dancing became a big part of their lives.

Don was in California working at a defense plant when he sent Lillian a diamond ring to ask for her hand in marriage. He came home a month later, and their wedding took place Feb. 23, 1942.

They remember Lillian wore a knee-length pink dress and Don wore a nice suit. They have many fond memories shared together, including trips to Portland, Las Vegas, Florida and California.

Lillian’s brother Eldon Eckert, on accordion, and his band provided polka-style music during the celebration.

“Don and Lillian answered some questions about their love story,” Tooker said to the crowd. “When they were asked, ‘How did your love help you make it through difficult experiences?’ the answer was, ‘We worked together.’ And isn’t that what a marriage is all about? Working together.”

Dennis said dancing and music was their entertainment for all their life, and the couple said they didn’t have a single favorite song because there were too many to count.

“The last question we asked was, ‘What advice would you give to couples when they get upset with each other?’” Tooker said. “And the answer was, ‘Work together. Don’t get upset about little things, and when you get mad, walk away and let it blow over.’ We can all use that very, very wise advice in daily life I think. Congratulations to you.”