ARLINGTON — On March 31, Bob and Mary Jean Sahlberg celebrated an already notable wedding anniversary in style at the Regency Care Center, thanks to the Bistro San Martin.
Bob and Mary Jean grew up just a few blocks away from each other in Twin Falls, Idaho, where they became high school sweethearts. Although they both graduated in 1940 and went on to the University of Idaho together, Bob’s years overseas in the U.S. Navy, as well as Mary Jean’s work in the shipyards of Seattle and on aircraft in Los Angeles, kept them from getting back together, until they got married on March 31, 1946, 67 years ago.
“She was the prettiest girl at our high school, I thought,” said Bob Sahlberg, who recalled there being between 300-400 girls at that school.
“After a couple of dates, I just kind of knew that this was my soulmate,” said Mary Jean Sahlberg, who agreed with Bob that they met at a high school dance, although they differ a bit in their recollections of how they got engaged.
“Didn’t Mary Jean propose to you?” asked Molly Weiland, the activities director at the Regency Care Center in Arlington, where the Sahlbergs now reside.
“It was a mutual agreement,” Bob Sahlberg said.
Indeed, Mary Jean characterized their marriage as a bond built on their shared loves and agreements on most matters. While Mary Jean complimented Bob as “a good provider with good habits,” which was important when they were raising two daughters on a small salary, Bob praised Mary Jean as “a good cook, an excellent mother and a great swimmer,” the latter of which played no small part in Mary Jean making history as the first female lifeguard ever in Twin Falls.
After Bob’s more than four years in the fleet, during which time he managed to get promoted from the enlisted ranks to lieutenant junior grade by the time he got out, he embarked on a 40-year career as a paint salesman, 34 of which were spent with Dutch Boy before it was bought out by Sherwin-Williams, whom he continued to work for the next six years.
“I started out a rookie salesman in Olympia and retired as the West Coast sales manager,” Bob Sahlberg said.
The Sahlbergs not only have two daughters, Nancy Hammer of Marysville and Linda Gagnier of Kirkland, but also seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
On March 31, the Bistro San Martin helped the Regency Care Center commemorate the couple’s 67 years of marriage with steak and lobster dinners.