A Love Story for the Ages

Billy and Marilyn Beeman to celebrate 60 years of marriage

By Karen Yekel

HOT SPRINGS – “All Because Two People Fell in Love” graces the entrance to the living room of Billy and Marilyn Beeman, who will be celebrating 60 years of marital accord on May 24.

On Sunday, May 24, 1959, Bill and Marilyn Beeman, then 25 and 17, respectively, were married at Natoma, Kan., and four days later found themselves on a working honeymoon with a harvest crew headed west.

Billy was a sophomore at Kansas State then, during the off-season, studying for a degree in technical agronomy. According to an article in the Great Bend Daily (Kansas) dated May 28, 1959, “Marilyn figures to polish up on the finer points of cooking and housekeeping, while helping with the cooking and serving of three strapping meals per day to the crew, whose days begin early and end near midnight.”

Billy, being ever tactful, and with all the confidence a brand-new bridegroom can muster, remarked at the time, “Marilyn is a good cook. I’m not worried about her culinary skill.”

These comments have become a source of much mirth in the Beeman household. Marilyn exclaimed, “No, I did not know how to cook! I helped mostly with caring for the children of the harvesters, and helping with chores as needed.”

What’s their secret to staying power? Billy said, “I believe the first thing for a man is to find a good Christian woman. After that don’t expect that you’re going to get your way all the time. And I think those two things are the main things for a successful marriage.”

Billy said, “You’ve got to give a lot. We all have our thoughts and ways of doing things, which doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right. It just means that’s the way you grew up. So, you have to learn to change, which means that you have to give up a lot.”

Marilyn’s response to her beliefs about their marital longevity begins with her deep faith. “I believe that first of all it’s only the Lord who has brought us to this place of being married for 60 years. We have learned how to put Him first in our lives,” she said.  

Marilyn added, “It is just the way we have learned over the years to be more gentle, be more forgiving of each other. The Lord forgives us so much that if we listen to Him, we change so that we don’t have to be right all the time, and we say we’re sorry to each other and release our forgiveness to each other and to God.” 

Their marriage hasn’t been all roses and sunshine. There have been many trials and tribulations, the greatest of which was the loss of their son, Dave, who perished at the age of 46 in the Alabaugh Fire in 2007. Dave had tried to save his dog and became trapped in their burning home, which is where firefighters found him, curled up next to the dog. Dave’s wife, Jan, watched in horror from their car as their home burned and Dave did not come out. “That was God’s work,” said Marilyn about Jan getting out of the fire area.

“I’ll never forget the date,” said Marilyn, “seven-seven-seven.” Both Billy and Marilyn are grateful Jan chose to save herself, for her two children, whom Dave loved as his own. “We were just so thankful that that our Lord brought Jan out of there because there’s no way she could have gotten out of their drive on her own. So He took her through pastures and through walls of fire and under wire fences. The car would die and would start again several times,” Marilyn said.

Billy suffered through his own grief, with the help of his faith. “Well one of my first thoughts was that Jesus took him (Dave) home because he was in a lot of pain and there was nothing they could do about it. It was mostly arthritis from the many injuries he incurred in his life, including driving off a cliff on a motorcycle and being trapped between his truck door and a tree,” said Billy, adding that Dave was born severely club-footed with the soles of his feet fused together at birth. 

“That, and many other situations have made us stronger as a unit,” said Marilyn. The Beemans have two other sons and a daughter, “and tons of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.” The feel they have been deeply blessed through their faith and that is what keeps them going in their 60-year marriage. 

Billy, who still works at 85, said about the best way to handle differences, “You have to work it out. This is the way we’re gonna do it together and we are gonna work it out,” he said, noting that marriage is a channel that goes both ways. “I think you go both ways, because there are things you want to do and things your spouse wants to do, and you compromise.”

Marilyn, now 77, said, “I think the biggest thing is we have been on the same page both morally and financially. So we do talk over the things that we want to buy or what we need to give and stuff like that, and I just think that’s a big key to a more peaceful married life.”

To help the Beemans commemorate 60 years of joyous marriage, please join them for a celebration scheduled for Saturday, May 25, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hot Springs Wesleyan Church.

Fall River County Herald

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