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78 years of love: Wanda and Bob Walston

Posted at 9:40 PM, Jan 25, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-28 09:09:41-05

TUCSON, Ariz. -- 1940, Toledo Ohio.

That's where a young couple met for the first time.

"We had a mutual friend and she asked me if I knew the good looking guy who worked in the appliance department," Wanda Walston said. "I said, 'there's no good looking guys up there because I'd know."

Wanda Walston and her husband Bob laughed as they remembered the early days of their relationship.

They both worked at Tiedtke's Department Store.

"You see, I was the cougar of my day."

Wanda is 99. Two years older than Bob.

Bob was walking up the stairs to his department when Wanda saw the good looking guy her friend had been talking about.

"He had a nice new convertible, but I didn't know that at the time," Wanda said. "Until I was sitting, waiting on a bus to go home from work. I saw this good looking guy going by in a convertible. His top was down and I thought 'Oh, I should be driving that."

A ride home, and a song, was all it took.

The next year, Bob and Wanda were married. Just in time for Bob to be drafted during World War II.

"I went in 1942," Bob said. "I was only gone for 18 months, so it wasn't too bad."

He ended up back at home early because Wanda caught Tuberculosis.

"They told me if I lived past 29 I'd be on borrowed time. Well, I borrowed a lot of time," Wanda said.

Bob came home to take care of his wife, and they've been together ever since.

From Ohio to California, then to Arizona.

The couple, married only 36 years at that point, landed in Sierra Vista.

Devout Catholics, they started a church.

Bob says, only 12 people showed up at first, and he had to clean the tables in an old bar so they would have some place to hold Mass.

Now, the church has 2,500 parishoners.

Years later, the Walston's moved to Tucson.

Bob works with his hands, making hundreds of beautiful wooden bowls over the years. Some he sold, some his wife insisted they keep as family heirlooms.

Each bowl, tells it's own story.

Wanda and Bob now live at a North Tucson retirement home.

"The main thing is we still have each other, and for that we're so grateful," Wanda said.

"Our two beautiful daughters, grandkids, great grandkids that we adore," Bob and Wanda said together. "We even have a great great. So it has been a wonderful life."

Their secret to a long and happy marriage;

"It's give and take. It's a lot of give and take."

Bob told us, their arrangement from the beginning was to talk everything through, and then do what Wanda thought was best.

She told us he was joking.

"You've got to realize you're two different people," she said. "You can't be the same all the time. So to accept that other person is one of the greatest things."

The couple said anyone in love needs to do three things four times each day.

"You've got to have four 'I love yous,' four kisses, and four hugs every day. For maintenance."

On the wall of their room hangs a plaque with the lyrics to their song.

"Only Forever," by Bing Crosby.

Bob has sung the song to Wanda on each anniversary for the past 78 years.

In front of our cameras, he started to cry, and could not sing.

Instead the two said the words to their song, together.

"Do I care to be with you as the years come and go?

Only forever, if you care to know.

How long would it take me to be there if you beckoned?

Off hand I figure less than a second.

Do you think I'll remember how you looked when you smiled?

Only forever, and that's putting it mild."