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Husband fondly reflects on 6 decades of marriage

Staff writer

More than 60 years later, Gene Winkler still remembers the moment he knew Doris Richmond was his soul mate. He was standing in a Lincolnville restaurant in the early 1960s.

“Centre just had a basketball game,” he said. “I went into that little restaurant on the corner, it isn’t even there anymore. I met her then and said ‘this is the one I think I want to marry.’ ”

By February of 1961 they were engaged, and were wed in August.

Gene says living without Doris around will be difficult but he will remember her selfless devotion to others. Doris died Dec. 29 of COVID-19 complications.

“It’s been a wonderful 59 years that we were together,” Gene said. “It was really something. I just have a hard time going on, just not hearing her there and being there. It’s going to take a little while.”

Doris spent 55-years as an employee at Marion County Extension Office. She retired in 2017.

Doris worked with several generations of families over the years but she decided it was time to move on, Gene said.

“She hated the computers,” Gene said. “She said, ‘I’m just getting too old for this, I don’t want to do it anymore.’ I said, ‘Well, you shouldn’t have to if you want to quit.’ Of course, then she didn’t have a lot of hobbies, but she loved to read.”

Doris was a voracious reader, Gene said. He said that she read enough books from Marion City Library to fill several walls of shelves.

Doris was an active volunteer even into retirement, working with Marion Senior Center, Holy Family Parish in Marion, and Marion County Food Bank.

“It still wasn’t enough to keep her busy,” Gene said. “She always was saying, ‘What else can I do?’ ”

She sometimes said people knew her as “Gene’s wife” instead of “Doris” because his name was on their checks and documents. However, the support Gene has received since Doris’s death indicates otherwise.

“It’s just unbelievable the people who are sending their thoughts, prayers, and so forth,” he said. “It’s really been wonderful. I wish she could have seen all this. Of course, maybe she does. Maybe it’s something she can see happening and enjoy it.”

Family was an important part of the Winklers’ life with numerous children and grandchildren still living in the area, Gene said.

“We’d always get together for Easter,” he said. “We’d all get together for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Of course, with COVID-19 this year, we didn’t have that capability.”

In need of an alternative for Thanksgiving, Doris and son Bruce packaged meals and sent them home with relatives to make sure they got to enjoy her home cooking.

Doris also had been spending her free time in recent months baby-sitting her 1-year-old great-grandson. She wondered if she was up to the task, but that didn’t last long, Gene said.

“She would get nothing done all day long when he was there, except just to play with him,” he said. “She loved that.”

Gene and Doris loved to travel, taking many motorcycle trips with friends, and doing frequent bus tours after selling their motorcycle.

“We did so many of them,” he said. “We went clear to the West Coast, up to the top and all the way down the coastline. We’d been to Niagara Falls. We’d just been on a ton of them, and she really enjoyed each and every one.”

He sometimes regrets how much time he spent away from home in 46 years of driving an ambulance, but Doris knew it was Gene’s way of serving others.

“I missed holidays, birthdays, and some of that by being on call,” he said. “I really miss that. Thinking back, maybe I should have done something different and been home, but I was doing what I felt I could do for people. She understood that.”

Last modified Jan. 7, 2021

 

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