Ray and Lola Anderson go way back together, back to the days he’d give her rides on his bike, and they’d catch a movie for 25 cents.
The Omaha couple met in the 1950s, when Lola was 10, and Ray was 12, and they were growing up in Denver.
They lived just a block from each other and went to pogo stick and hula hoop contests together.
Ray’s family was originally from Omaha and Lola’s was from Kansas. Both families moved to Denver for jobs during World War II.
Money was tight for both families, so Lola and Ray looked for ways to earn money.
Ray was the neighborhood paperboy, and found other work as well. The father of one of his friends owned a gas station, and Ray would wash windshields for customers, making a little money and getting a taste of the service station business that would pay off in the future.
Lola baby-sat, and later worked at a movie theater.
As teenagers, Lola and Ray started dating.
“She was one of the sweet neighborhood girls,’’ he said.
They loved grabbing burgers at the A&W and going for picnics in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Ray and Lola married on June 30, 1962, at St. Elizabeth Church in Denver, and soon moved to Omaha. They had three sons and enjoyed family outings at Peony Park and the zoo.
Ray bought a gas station at 30th and Dodge Streets, and was a one-man show. He pumped gas, fixed tires and repaired engines. Lola would bring him sandwiches.
Ray bought more stations and Lola was the bookkeeper. He now owns or co-owns nine Anderson BP Food Shops and Andy’s Convenience Stores, plus Anderson AutoCare, all in the Omaha area. Even though he turns 70 this month, he still shows up for work.
Lola stayed busy over the years raising their sons, plus she danced and taught dance, and she still paints and plays the piano. She has Parkinson’s disease, and has been an advocate for patients and active in local fundraising efforts for research.
Ray and Lola, the pair who met as kids, now have seven grandchildren and celebrated their 50th anniversary last summer.
“It’s all gone way too fast,’’ Lola said. “We were meant for each other.”
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