Eleanor and Dave Lofgren recently celebrated their 70thWedding Anniversary. Many long-time residents of Clermont remember Dave as the principal of Clermont High School. Eleanor is known throughout the community for her service in her church and community.
I had the occasion to speak with Eleanor in an attempt to discover the secret to a long-lasting marriage. She asked, “Why me?”. Why would anyone be interested in a couple married over 70 years? I replied that few of us have have been together for 70 years; It’s an accomplishment. How can any woman live with a man for over 70 years?
TABLET: Did you know immediately that Dave was your prince? Was it LOVE at first sight?
Eleanor: Dave was only a name to me – part of my older sister’s group of friends. We met at a church celebration welcoming our “boys” home from World War II. Dave was wearing his uniform – and my first impression was a man of the world – sophisticated. So much for first impressions!
TABLET: What did your parents think of this sophisticated man of the world stealing the heart of their daughter?
Eleanor: My parents thought I was far too young to marry but thought he was of sterling character. We dated while he finished his education, and I worked at New York Telephone. His diploma made a job and marriage possible. Dave was offered a teaching job in Florida and with little thought, we headed south. We were off to a great start; two Brooklyn kids in beautiful Florida. The plan, of course, was to get a few years of experience and come back home to friends and family. Not so…
TABLET: So..Tell me what happened?
Eleanor: We married on a Thursday evening, took three days to travel to little Mulberry, Florida and Dave started teaching immediately. Our first evening in Mulberry was spent at a room in the Men’s Boarding House; our first home was a converted army barrack two miles from town, on a dirt road. We had two hurricane’s that Fall! Fun, fun, fun.
TABLET: Even today, moving from a big city to a small town is difficult but nearly 70 years ago, Two Yankees moving to Mulberry must have been a total culture shock.
Eleanor: I soon learned that we were the only Yankees’ in town. There was a Jewish family living there but they soon left after we arrived. We eventually embraced country living and the babies started coming – Catherine in 1950; Neil in 1951; Eva in 1954; John in 1957.
TABLET: What made you leave Mulberry and come to Clermont?
Eleanor: We loved Mulberry and stayed until a Florida teachers’ strike in 1968. Dave walked out with his teachers. Mickey Langley Nagel, a former teacher on his staff, actually suggested the Logren family come to Clermont. She told Dave of an opening at Clermont High School. Hot dog! We haven’t left yet.
TABLET: Your children are all musically talented. I would label them “the Partridge family of Mulberry”. Did all four of the Lofgren children take music lessons?
Eleanor: Money has always been in short supply with all those little mouths to feed, so we lacked a lot of extras. We did purchase a phonograph in the 60’s (can anybody remember them?). At first, we only had one record: “Two to Tango”; I think “Blueberry Hill” was on the other side: We played it for days. We sang from Mulberry to New York and any time we were in the car for more than an hour. Guess that’s where we got our love of music. All four of our children are still singing; two sons and one grandson are guitarists.
Tablet: Eleanor and Davie refused to sing for me but I remember when they sang and entertained for hours. Just place a mic in their hands.
Matthew and mother Eva-Logfren Sedgwick singing to her mom and dad at the 70th Anniversary.
TABLET: I know the BIG Question that many of the readers would ask….Can you give us advice on staying in a life-long, forever marriage?
Eleanor: I think Dave and I sort of drifted through life and it works for us. I wouldn’t change a thing. I have no tips or advice on “staying married”. It’s a day by day battle. So — You just keep staying married. (Unless he’s not worth keeping!)
Evidently, after 70 years of marriage, 4 kids and lots of ups and downs, Dave has proven that he is worthy of keeping. Congratulations to Dave and Eleanor for believing in a Happily Ever After.