From the ground up:
By Jacilyn Bruns, The Voice News - August 10, 2017
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Photos by Jacilyn Bruns, The Voice News
This month, Richard and Nancy Christensen have been married for 60 years. They currently live in Bennet, where they raised
their three sons.
Richard and Nancy Christensen are celebrating 60 years of marriage this August, but they’ve known each other for much longer. They both grew up in Panama.
“His grandma lived next door to where I lived with my mom and dad. I didn’t care much for him, but we were just little kids then,” Nancy said.
Nancy’s parents died when she was young, and one of her older brothers moved from Lincoln to Panama to take her in.
Richard’s family moved out to a farm, and during grade school, Richard went to country school while Nancy stayed at Panama.
They were reunited when they both started high school at Panama. Nancy played volleyball and Richard played basketball and baseball.
“My first official date was with him; we went roller skating in Douglas,” Nancy said.
They dated off and on all four years of high school and got engaged in December of their senior year.
“We went ice skating out on the farm pond, that’s where he gave me my ring,” Nancy said.
Nancy didn’t know until afterward, but Richard had asked her brother for his blessing. Richard and Nancy graduated high school that May, and married on Aug. 30, 1957.
The newlywed couple moved to a third-floor apartment in Lincoln on the corner of 18th & M Street and lived there for a few years. Later, they moved into the upstairs of a house on 50th & Adams Street, where they had their first child, Doug, four years after they got married.
Nancy worked at the former Nebraska Book Sales in Lincoln. Richard attended Milford Trade School, now known as Southeast Community College, for mechanics.
After graduation, he was offered a job in Lexington, Nebraska. The Christensens moved to Lexington and lived there for about four years. While there, Richard and Nancy had another son, Dennis. While he was an infant, the Christensens returned to Southeast Nebraska.
“We didn’t want to live in Lincoln, that’s too big. We thought Panama was a little too far, so Bennet was about right,” Nancy said.
They first rented a house in Bennet while Richard worked for different car dealerships in Lincoln.
Nancy worked in the kitchen at Bennet Elementary and then at the former K&K Food Market in Bennet.
Several years later, Richard and Nancy had their third and youngest son, Larry. All three sons attended Palmyra High School.
Larry, Richard and a friend from Panama built the Christensen’s home on Harrison Street around 1974, and the couple has lived there ever since.
Richard built his own garage in 1972, Dick’s Automotive Repair.
“They actually mixed the cement and poured it, with a lot of help from a lot of friends in Bennet,” Nancy said.
Over the years, Richard said he has met many people through his business.
“A lot of customers are now friends that I didn’t know before,” Richard said.
Richard retired in 2008, and his garage is now a welding shop.
Richard and Nancy believe that raising three kids is one of their greatest accomplishments.
“They were good kids, none of them ever got in too much trouble,” Nancy said.
Doug and his wife Tracy live in Lincoln and have a son, Austin, and an adopted daughter, Joy.
Dennis and his wife Toni live in Lincoln with their son Casey.
Larry moved to Portland, Ore., after visiting and enjoying its art. Nancy said they don’t see him very much, but he calls on the phone often.
“I don’t know what else we’ve accomplished, just sticking together!” Nancy said.
Over the years, the Christensens enjoyed camping quite a bit. Richard said they started out with a tent, progressed to a pop-up camper, a motorhome and then a fifth-wheel camper.
Nancy recalls one of their longest trips was when they drove the motorhome all the way to Portland to see Larry for a few days.
With the exception of this year, Richard embarks on an annual fishing trip to Canada with Doug.
Today, Richard and Nancy exercise at Madonna ProActive in Lincoln three times a week. They also enjoy doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles together.
“We’ve probably done hundreds of them over the years. We trade around with different people in town that do them, and we do them on the computer,” Nancy said.
In addition, Nancy likes to read books, and Richard likes to make birdhouses, birdfeeders and many kinds of wooden crafts.
Ten years ago, the Christensens celebrated their 50th anniversary with family and friends at Bennet’s Legion Post. Now that they’ve reached another milestone, there will be an open house for them on Aug. 26 at Bennet Community Church.
Throughout 60 years of marriage, Richard and Nancy said they’ve never had a big argument.
“Sometimes we may not speak for a day or so, but the next day it blows over and it’s good,” Richard said.
Though they have had some medical problems, Richard and Nancy want to keep going strong.
“I think we probably can for a few years,”
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