Every evening before bed, Rudy Johnson walks over to the opposite wing of the Williams Lake Seniors Village to kiss his wife, Helen, good night.
It’s been that way since the couple moved into the village where, on Sunday, Dec. 23, they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary alongside family and friends.
“It certainly is a big surprise,” Helen said with a big smile. “I didn’t expect this.”
Rudy, 96, and Helen, 94, were married in 1943 and came to Williams Lake. They moved to Soda Creek in 1962 and bought the Buckskin Ranch, where they raised their six children.
After Helen nearly drowned crossing the river on the Soda Creek ferry, Rudy decided to build what’s now the historic Rudy Johnson Bridge. He located an abandoned steel bridge in Alaska, which he dismantled and paid to have transported to the Cariboo. The bridge was completed in 1968 and is still in use.
Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb was on hand Sunday to meet with his friends, and present the couple a special certificate of recognition congratulating them on 75 years of marriage.
“It’s quite something,” Cobb said. “It’s great to see the pioneers. He’s done so much for this community and it’s great to be able to participate.”
On their 75 years of marriage, Cobb said it’s quite a remarkable milestone.
“There are lots of people who don’t live to be 75, let alone married that long,” he said. “I think it’s just great.”
Rudy visits Helen in the opposite wing of the building at least three times a day. The live on different sides of the building due to Helen requiring more care.
Three of Rudy and Helen’s children: Debby, Randy and Bob joined in the celebration with their parents.
“It’s just amazing,” Debby said. “They’ve been a great part of the community all these years and they treat everybody like family so it’s awesome they can come and share it with everyone.”
Helen, meanwhile, came to a realization recently, Debby said, smiling.
“She told me yesterday she realized dad’s 96 years old, so she guesses she’s now married to an old man.”
Aside from their children, Rudy and Helen have 12 grandchildren and six great grandchildren.