Elizabeth Hamilton-Guarino
Discover How to Be Your Best
Jerry and Arlene Johnson

Married 47 years

Each of these factors has had a part in our 47 year marriage.

FAITH - FATE; Our religious background and our faith brought us together and still sustain us today. We both grew up in the Lutheran church (Augustana-Swedish) which also was the reason we met. Arlene started college in the fall of 1959 in her home town of Wahoo, Ne. (There’s Only One) and attended Luther Junior College where her father had served on the board of trustees. Jerry graduated in 1960 from Holdrege (Nebraska) and went to Luther Junior College. It was natural for Arlene to attend there because her father graduated from there in the early 1920’s, her older brother graduated from there in 1958. Jerry on the other hand, had no real connection with Luther and was not planning to go onto college but was approached by the college football coach who made a visit to Holdrege and offered a scholarship to him. It was for $100.00 per semester which was a lot of money in 1960 for this farm boy. $50.00 was for football and $50.00 was for being a Lutheran.

That’s where FAITH & FATE played a part in the start of this relationship.

FAMILY; when we think of family we think of the extended family. Part of that extended family goes back to Luther College. While Arlene’s dad, Evald Brodd served on the board of trustees, Jerry’s pastor, the Rev. Clarence Hall also served on the same board of trustees. While dating in college and going on a two week choir tour they were joined by Jerry’s family at a concert in northern Kansas and found out that Jerry’s uncle and Arlene’s father were classmates at Luther. Plus, the choir director at Jerry’s home church in Holdrege was also their classmate.

FUN; while both attended the two years of college together they found many common interests. Their first date was a triple date with Jerry’s roommate and friend from high school days and another classmate that lived close to Jerry’s extended family in Minnesota, these were the guys involved. The three girls were all from Wahoo and lived off campus. They were known as the” trashy town girls”. (The girls didn’t have dorm hours but they had parents.) The date was to a local hangout for coffee. The six were in the college choir together and later that spring traveled to California with the choir. Jerry and Arlene were the only couple that remained together as a couple. Their interests and personalities seemed to match and they continued to date through the summer. Jerry’s home town was about 150 miles away but they found a way to see each other about every other weekend.

By that time the relationship was getting serious and Arlene was off to Midland College in Fremont (only 20 miles north of Wahoo) they were tested as she met new friends at Midland and new students were coming to Luther. Arlene’s parents had taken in house guests over the years, having family members stay in their home while attending Luther when the college dorms were full. So Jerry, being somewhat shrewd and the boy’s dorm being full, asked if he could rent a room in their house. Arlene was off to Midland so there was room for Jerry. Jerry won over the hearts of her parents as he took care of their yard, painted their house, did odd job repairs around the house and then saw Arlene on the weekends when she came home from Midland. (Arlene jokingly called him “The Ugly Rumor” as you know how small towns talk.) On weekends Arlene was home, Jerry had to sleep with her younger brother. They are still friends today.

The second semester, Jerry didn’t have to pay room and board because they considered him part of the family and that Christmas Eve, they became engaged. Their wedding date was set for June 24th, also the birthday of Arlene’s younger brother and Jerry’s mother.

The first 9 years of marriage were spent in Jerry’s hometown of Holdrege where Jerry was employed at the Farmers Cooperative. Jerry’s interest in agriculture and working with farmers was very fulfilling. Arlene then graduated from Kearney State College in Kearney, Ne. and took a job in the business office of Northwestern Bell. Anyone remember the Bell system? Their two children Bryce and Valerie were born in Holdrege in 1966 and 1968.

It was time for Jerry to “really” leave the nest from his hometown and they moved to Gothenburg, Ne. They were the Gothenburg Swedes, what else. Jerry continued to move up in the cooperative system as a controller and later into management. Those management positions took the family to two other Nebraska communities and in 1985 and 1987, their two children graduated from McCook High School. After their high school graduation they both attended the University of Nebraska in Lincoln where Bryce received a Masters Degree in Engineering and Valerie received her Undergraduate Degree in psychology. She went on to get her Master’s Degree in Ohio. Both children are married, and they have given Jerry & Arlene five grandchildren.
The success of the 47 year marriage comes back to FAITH & FAMILY. Both continue to serve in their church, both on the local and state level in leadership positions. Their interest in music continues as both sing in the church choir, community choir and Jerry sings in a barbershop chorus. This has also provided them the opportunity to attend several International Barbershop Chorus Competition events and the Fremont Chorus this year will compete on the International Stage in Philadelphia.

Neither Arlene nor Jerry has had to convince each other to undertake something because their activities seem to fit their likes and personalities. If there is one area that would be considered outside their comfort zone, it would be politics. But Jerry is now Mayor of Wahoo. They retired back to Wahoo six years ago, into the house where Arlene grew up and Jerry lived during college and he is now running for re-election as mayor of the town of 4,500 people.

Family events include children and grandchildren trips together, trips with Arlene’s two brothers and their wives and Jerry’s two sisters and their husbands. As you might note, Jerry & Arlene are both well adjusted middle children! They do find time for the two of them as they are avid Cornhusker fans with season tickets for football, volleyball and Women’s basketball and travel to most of the Husker football bowl games and volleyball Final Four Matches.
It’s the faith they have, the family they have, the fun they have and it was fate or the hand of God that brought them together. It began in Wahoo and it is still going strong in Wahoo. (There’s Only One)

Posted on 04/22/2010 by Jerry & Arlene Johnson