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John and Shirley Elmore

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02/01/2010 - It's not uncommon to hear people say "we got married too young" as an explanation for their divorce. But for every couple using that excuse, there is another pair making their relationship work – regardless of how old they were when they met. Platte County natives John and Shirley Elmore met when Shirley was 15 years old. Shirley was working as a waitress in her hometown of Wheatland. John, a Guernsey boy, came to the restaurant to eat. They had mutual friends, so they started spending time together. Two years later, the couple married on Shirley's 17th birthday. March 1st they celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary.

When asked to what they attribute the success of their marriage, they say in unison: "The Lord, without a doubt." They also agree that marriage is an exercise in give and take.

"Both people have to give a little," John said. "It takes both people. It has to be a partnership."

"There's nothing worse than coming home to an empty house," Shirley said. "You have to think about that and then give a little."

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A few weeks before their wedding, John got stuck in a blizzard coming back to Casper after visiting Shirley in Wheatland. "It was February 9, 1949," John said. Driving conditions were so bad that John had to pull over about four miles east of Glenrock. Keeping the engine running for heat, he spent the night in his new '48 Chevrolet. Someone spotted him in the morning and gave him a ride to his friends' house in Glenrock. Snow was drifted all around the car, but by the time his friends took him back to dig his car out, it was completely covered. He was forced to leave it and return to work in Casper. When he returned for his car, it had been dug out, but the trunk had been poked full of holes.

After serving in the Navy during WWII, John went to work for Socony Vacuum. He worked for them through a name change to Mobile Oil until the Casper refinery was shut down. At that time he was transferred to Beaumont Texas. "As soon as I had a chance I came back to Casper," John said. He and Shirley lived in Texas for three years, returning to Casper in 1968. John then worked for Little America until his retirement in 1987.

Shirley worked until they had their first child, Lynn, five years into their marriage. Once they had their children, Lynn and Morris, Shirley's work really began. Raising the kids, keeping up with all of their activities and the responsibilities of a household was a rewarding career move.

"We are blessed beyond measure," Shirley said.

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Today this retired couple has a large, close-knit family that they love spending time with. They have attended Faith Assembly for many years. Every Sunday after church, the two kids, their spouses, four grandkids, three grandkid spouses and three great grandkids go out to eat with John and Shirley. The end of 2009 brought the two youngest great grandkids. Morgan was born December 11 and Sarah was born a few days later on the 15th.

"Our whole family does everything together," Shirley said. "We're never too busy for family."

This past Christmas, there were tables set up all around the house the couple has lived in for the past 42 years. "We had 19 people for dinner," Shirley said. "The Lord comes first, but there is nothing more valuable in your life than your kids."

The Elmore's enjoy walking together every day and gardening. "I love flowers," John said. "But she has the green thumb." They also enjoy their two yorkies, Harry and Truman.

The couple is delighting in their retirement together. "We like it when we don't have anything to do and can do anything we want," they agreed.

"We've had a very good life," Shirley said. John nodded with a smile as she continued. "It's been joyful."

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