11/01/2011 - By Gayle Irwin
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Many people feel fortunate to find a great love once in their lifetime; many others struggle. A select few are blessed to discover a second great love after the death of a spouse – Wendell and Lola Culbertson are part of that group.
They have been married more than eight years. Wendell is 90 and Lola is 84.
"We're still as happy as we can be," Lola said.
Her first husband died nearly 20 years ago; they had been married 40 years. After his death, Lola involved herself with friends, church, and craft shows at which she sold baked goods.
"I was a very happy widow," Lola said. "But, I changed my tune (when dating Wendell)."
He was married to his first wife for 59 years before she passed away. Lola and Wendell had known each other for several years through their church – Faith Assembly of God. They married there on June 7, 2003.
Still quite active, the two greatly enjoy family, friends, entertaining, and traveling. They are also very involved with their church and with the Gideons, helping to place Bibles in different parts of the community. Lola organizes a prayer list for the church and hosts a ladies group in her home. As one looks around at the festive fall decorations and the wall of family photos, a person cannot help but recognize the importance of people in the lives of this couple.
"We're family-oriented, and we love people," Wendell said. "Wyoming has some of the best people I know."
He first came to Wyoming in 1949, taking a job with Conoco Oil at the Glenrock refinery, a job that was to only last a few months. Nearly 35 years later, Wendell retired from the company, having moved to Casper after the refinery in Glenrock closed.
However, Wendell's life didn't slow down. He attended Casper College for a few years and earned an associate of arts degree. His oil and acrylic paintings grace the home he shares with Lola, and the mountains and plains he's painted reflect his appreciation of the state in which he's lived for more than 60 years.
"I'm thrilled about this country!" he said.
Wendell's enjoyment of people and dedication to family extended to young men in the community. He worked with Boy Scout troops for nearly 60 years and was awarded the Silver Beaver Award in adult scouting leadership.
His own family includes two children, seven grandchildren, 11 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Adding Lola to his life also added four children, five grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Although some of the family lives away from Casper, others reside in the community. Family extends to others; the couple has been "adopted" by others here in this community sharing holidays and other regular visits.
After their marriage, Wendell and Lola traveled somewhat extensively, including to Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Wendell's association with Evangel University as a board member and a continued supporter still occasionally takes them to Missouri. They also engage in solving puzzles, including jigsaw and Sudoku.
"Wendell enjoys life," Lola said.
A recent trip to Missouri included a stop in Branson where Lola has family members who entertain on that music stage of the central U.S. Their home, however, is in Casper, and their enjoyment of Wyoming's landscapes and people keep them connected to the state.
"I will not leave Wyoming," Wendell said.
With Thanksgiving approaching, the Culbertsons look upon their life with gratitude, for each other, for family and friends, for memories, skills, abilities, and for an abundance of other blessings. All one needs to do is look at the walls of photos, sketches and paintings to know those things for which they are thankful.
"The Lord has been really good (to us)," Lola stated.