‘Love, patience, and trust: Whitehall couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Hilma and Lester Gjestvang's said 'I do' in 1950 and their love strengthens with each passing day
70 Years Together

WHITEHALL, Wis. (WKBT) – Those of us who say “I do” are making a promise to that person we love. For one Whitehall couple, their promise is as strong as it was when they said those words in 1950.

Fellowship with the people we love was always important. It just feels more prominent now with everything going on outside our inner circle.

The year 2020 has been painful in some ways, but it’s still a year worthy of celebration. Lester and Hilma Gjestvang’s family never misses a birthday, holiday, or anniversary.

“Family is very important,” Hilma Gjestvang said.

The Gjestvangs remember clearly the days on their farm in Pleasantville just outside of Whitehall.

“The baby calves, the baby pigs, little chicks,” Gjestvang said.

Their five children, including Rosi Vaughan, remember the lessons a farm can offer.

“Everybody pitches in,” Vaughan said.

COVID-19 makes family get-togethers more difficult.

“We go buy groceries and we go to appointments and that’s it,” Hilma Gjestvang said. “We really know each other (Laughter).

They refuse to see only the dark side of this calendar year.

“Keep smiling,” Hilma Gjestvang said.

Their anniversary this year carries some special weight this year.

“Most of us can’t imagine living 70 years,” Vaughan said.

Hilma is amazed at how fast time has passed.

“Our 70th anniversary. Who woulda thought?” she said.

This milestone deserves a larger party but the company they have is all they could ask for.

“It means everything to have them around,” Hilma Gjestvang said with their children surrounding them.

Hilma and Lester met in Osseo at a dance, and the Blue Skirt Waltz formed a lifelong connection. It was date straight out of a William Shakespeare play.

“All it took was one dance and then it’s history,” she said.

Their example is painted on Vaughan’s eyes and stored inside her heart.

“We couldn’t have asked for better role models and better parents,” Vaughan said. “I posted on Facebook today, ‘I’m privileged to call them mom and dad.'”

There’s something to be said about a promise kept. Here’s their secret.

“Love, patience, and trust,” Hilma Gjestvang said.

Their children are forever shaped by their example.

“Their life was faith, family, and farming,” Vaughan said.

Lester said marriage is about compromise and working as a team.

“You gotta give a little and you gotta take a little,” he said.

Seventy years of marriage is no easy task, but they chose to make the most of what they had, each other and family.

“We’ve had a good life, very good life,” Hilma Gjestvang said.

Lester and Hilma said it’s a choice to see the good in any circumstance. Even though they don’t get to see their family as much, they are appreciating each moment even more.