Marriage

Jerry and Eleanor Mach

They grew up on neighboring Nebraska farms and were childhood playmates, but were separated when one of them moved to the city.

Jerry and Eleanor Mach reconnected after World War II, and Eleanor broke off an engagement to marry Jerry. They recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

They grew up in rural Wahoo, Nebraska. She and her sisters played hide-and-seek with Jerry and his sibling and together they loved jumping from the barn loft into hay .

Sometimes Eleanor and Jerry would go off together, talking for hours under a small bridge.

He had crush on her, and even told friends he would marry Eleanor some day. She thought he was a sweet and kind boy.

But when Jerry was in fifth grade his family moved to Omaha.

Jerry never forgot about Eleanor, though.

They didn’t see each other or speak for 12 years. During that time they graduated from high school and Eleanor enrolled in college.

Jerry served in the Army during World War II and returned to Wahoo in August 1947 after his discharge.

There was a tradition in the town that when soldiers went off to war they’d hang their hat inside a bar downtown, and retrieve it when they returned.

So Jerry went into the bar to get his hat. It turned out that Eleanor, who’d moved to Kearney because of an engagement to another man, was back in Wahoo visiting.

Jerry heard Eleanor was downtown, so he left the bar and found her. They spent the whole day catching up.

Their childhood friendship quickly blossomed into a romance.

Eleanor, who grew up in a poor family, was set to marry a wealthy farmer in two weeks. But she couldn’t go through with it. She was in love with Jerry.

Within days she called off the wedding.

She and Jerry married Sept. 15, 1948, and celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary earlier this month with family. They have four children, 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

He is 93 and she is 92, and they share a room at a nursing home in Bellevue.

For them the perfect day is visiting with their big family, as they sit side by side, holding hands.

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oconnor@owh.com, 402-444-1122

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