Reed City couple celebrates 70 years of marriage By Kyle Leppek Pioneer Staff Writer REED CITY - Delbert and Betty McLachlan have been in some form of a partnership all of their marriage. Working on their farm together for 46 years, both working at Evart Products - now Ventura Evart - at different times and working together on their own excavating company, the two have managed to make those partnerships successful. Today, the McLachlans will celebrate their most important partnership of all - 70 years of marriage. Reaching a 50th anniversary is an accomplishment for most couples, but approaching 20 years beyond that, the McLachlans cannot pick a single tip on how to have a long-lasting, successful marriage. But as Delbert repeatedly states, it doesn't hurt to choose wisely. "You have to pick the right one the first time around," he said. "I can say, the right one is out there, you just have to keep on looking until you find the right one." The McLachlans found each other through a blind date set up by Delbert's sister. When Betty was 16 years old and Delbert was 21, Delbert's sister, Betty's friend, asked Betty to accompany her on a date. After that, the two fell in love and married two years later, a love that has continued to grow over the years, they said. "We both knew right then this is it, even though she was only 16 years old. I was accused of robbing the cradle because I was five years older than her," Delbert said. "Everyone said it would never last and we proved them wrong. We feel real fortunate it happened that way." While dating, Betty's mother made sure Delbert understood that she wanted Betty to graduate from high school - she planned for her to be first of the siblings to do so. "(Betty) was just a year and a half away from graduating and (Betty's mother) pointed a finger at me and said, 'I'm going to tell you one thing and I want you to take this to heart: I don't want you getting any ideas. She is going to graduate,'" he said. "She was the best mother-in-law anybody has ever had. I'll never forget it." During the late 1930's, the two had few dating options. Going to see a movie or roller-skating were popular activities at the time. Shortly after they were married, and with a new baby boy, Delbert's father helped them buy their own farm which they fixed up and worked on during the early years of their marriage. The farm, which they owned for 46 years, became one of the highlights of their marriage. Sitting in their living room, across from a framed aerial photo of the farm, Betty recalls the pride it brought the family. "When we got our first farm, our only farm, I can still see how happy we were," Betty said. "We redid that home and every room in that home had to be beautiful. The barn had to be all redone and we worked together, you had to do that. We had some hard times doing it, but we pulled through and we have always been happy together. As the years pass by, it just grows." As the family grew, Delbert needed to find another source of income to support the family and started working at Evart Products, retiring 10 years later as a supervisor. Betty started working at the plant in the fall later that year and continued there for 14 years. After he left, Delbert started his own excavating company. Wanting to be closer to her husband and make sure he was safe, Betty worked driving a dump truck for the company. "I just loved to drive that dump truck, it was so much fun, I really enjoyed it. As you went into town alone or something, you could look down and you could see people would look up at you and go, 'Oh, a woman driver.' I just got a kick out of it," Betty said. Seeing each other at work and at home can cause tension for some couples, but the McLachlans feel fortunate that they have not faced some of the problems other couples have. "When the man quit working and retired, (couples) had trouble adjusting to him being home all the time. That didn't bother us one little bit," Delbert said. "We knew it was going to happen and you just make it work." After both had retired, the two spent their years traveling the country, overseas and on cruise ships before settling down in their current location in Reed City. The couple acknowledges marriage is not and should not be effortless. It's something that should be nurtured to grow. "(Marriage) is not easy, you haveto work through it. You can't give up. Most (couples) just give up and say, 'I can't do it,' and walk off. You have got to give in. You can't always be so stubborn, always wanting your own way," Betty said. "We argue and then we just sit down, maybe go to bed, and meet up again in the morning. We had some hard times, but we all worked it out - we had the kids right there with us to help us - and we made it." Couples never imagine themselves being married for 70 years, the McLachlans said. While starting their life together, family and friends said the relationship couldn't last, but the couple is happy to have proved them wrong. Although they have enjoyed their 70 years together, Delbert wished he had more time to spend at home while working at Evart Products. "We just did everything together, that was the thing. It's a two-way street, you have got to be compatible in most ways but it's not all one thing. You have got to work together, which we have done," Delbert said. "It was supposed to be that way. We've had a very happy, enjoyable life; I wouldn't trade it for nothing. My only biggest regret was I lost 10 years of my kids' lives, but we got through it." The couple is looking forward to spending time with friends and family on their anniversary. But besides marking a milestone in their marriage, this anniversary brings a larger family achievement in the eyes of the couple. "At the end of (September), our youngest son will be drawing Social Security, so all three of (the children) will be drawing Social Security," Delbert said. "And in December, our oldest boy and his wife will be married 50 years and here we are with our 70th. This doesn't happen too often." The McLachlans believe old-fashioned principals taught by their parents have helped them in their relationship. While growing up the McLachlan's oldest son, Don, witnessed his parent's relationship and it has encouraged him. "I could always see how committed they were to one another. (They were) very family oriented and we are the same, we have a real good family," Don said. "(They were) always loving to one another and always hard working. I probably gathered a lot from them." Larry, the McLachlan's youngest son, credits the happiness in his marriage as a reflection of his parents. "I remember they always made decisions together. They always included each other and made time for each other," Larry said. "It has made an impact on me; especially when you get the right one. It makes a big difference when you devote to each other to stay together." Celebrating a week later, the McLachlans will observe their 70th anniversary with friends and family from 2 to 5 p.m. on Oct. 8 at the VFW Hall in Evart. The couple requests no gifts. They thank their children and spouses - Karol (Pat) Tracy, Larry (Gloria) McLachlan and Don (Helen) McLachlan - for their support and comfort over the years. As the years have flown by and their love continues to grow, the McLachlans cannot pinpoint one thing for the longevity, but they are glad it has worked for them and are looking forward to the coming years. "It was just a miracle the way it happened; but it sure has been a memorable life so far," Delbert said.