Irene and Willy Giesbrecht celebrated their 64th anniversary on Oct. 6. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press).

Secret to a long marriage ‘never go to bed mad’

They were on a blind date but it was love at first sight for Willy Giesbrecht and Irene Lilley.

They were on a blind date but it was love at first sight for Willy Giesbrecht and Irene Lilley.

“I wasn’t going to let her get away,” Willy said. “It’s the same as when you go fishing. You know when a fish pulls hard, it’s a big fish and not a little stinker. I knew I hooked into a big one. She was a keeper.”

Four months after they went to a movie – they have no idea what one – the two were married on Oct. 6, 1956. The couple celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this week, as well as Irene’s 83rd birthday, which was on Oct. 3. It was a quiet affair – in the old days they might have attended a square dance but it’s been a while since anyone swung their partners in B.C.

At one time, the Giesbrechts had their toes firmly in the square dance circle in the Cariboo. They started dancing in Boston Bar with five couples in a basement for something to do in the evenings, later forming their first club at 150 Mile House. At the time, they were living in Forest Grove, having retired there in 2010 after spending most of their married life in the Fraser Canyon.

“When we retired we were in the square dance movement. We were going to take a year or two off but I was calling at the time … that fall we formed our first club at 150 Mile. We were also dancing with clubs in Lac La Hache, Lone Butte and 100 Mile,” Willy said. “Unfortunately, the square dance movement in 100 Mile and all of B.C. is pretty much dead. There’s not the activity there used to be.”

The Giesbrechts, who now live at the Scenic Place Mobile Home Park in 100 Mile, had swapped square dancing for travelling a few years ago. They would take the fifth wheel to the local lakes, travel across Canada or head down south for the winters with good friends Rob and Judy Boehm. They gave up the snowbird lifestyle when the cost of insurance got too high.

READ MORE: Couple celebrates 70 years together

They both miss the square dancing, which they say kept them active and off the couch. “We used to have a jamboree here. It was nothing to have over 100 people or more,” Irene said.

But the couple has since found other things to do together. Willy does woodwork – he makes everything from salt-and-pepper shakers to napkin holders, while Irene works on colourful quilts. The two sell their crafts, along with those done by the Boehms, at the Heritage Market in the 108 on Saturdays during the summer. “It kills time,” Willy said.

When asked the secret to a long marriage, Irene suggested Willy go first, saying: “I want to hear what you say.”

He obliged. “The first thing you’ve got to realize is you marry the person for who they are,” he said. “It’s sort of a surprise package. You have to realize each person is their own person and have their own ideas and views. You don’t keep secrets and you never go to bed mad.”

Irene agreed, noting she tried to go to bed mad one time and Willy made her spill it, asking her what was wrong. “You put it right there,” he said, plunking his hand on the table.

Irene said the two of them also have their own interests. She quilts and would go swimming, while Willy plays in a band with his buddies. “It’s been really good,” she said.

As he wrapped his arms around his wife, Willy agreed. “I’ve rubbed her back for 64 years.”


newsroom@100milefreepress.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

100 Mile House

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Youth across B.C. took part in the Student Vote. In Cariboo Chilcotin BC Green Party David Laing got the most votes and in Cariboo North BC NDP Party Scott Elliott emerged the winner.  (Student Vote photo)
BC Student Vote 2020: Green Party wins Cariboo Chilcotin, NDP wins Cariboo North

Student vote for Cariboo ridings has different outcomes than general voting

School District 27 will be hosting a virtual town hall with Interior Health Authority on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
SD27, Interior Health hosting virtual town hall

It will be the second session to give parents an update

Up to 10 centimetres of snow were expected on Highway 97 from Clinton to Begbie Summit and in 100 Mile House on Oct.24. (Kelly Sinoski photo, 100 Mile Free Press)
More sand, plow trucks coming to region

More plows and brine trucks will be operating on the Highway 97 corridor this winter.

FILE – Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides the latest update on the COVID-19 pandemic in the province during a press conference in the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, October 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. shatters COVID-19 records with 817 weekend cases; masks now expected indoors

Three people have died over the past three reporting periods

The voting station mimicked a real voting station in Nicole Choi’s classroom at Chilliwack middle school on Oct. 22, 2020, where students had to show their ID (student cards), be checked off a list, and mark a secret ballot behind a screen. (Jessica Peters/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. students choose NDP majority in mock election

More than 90,000 youth took part in school-based election process

Crew transport bus at the Trans Mountain pipeline project work site in Burnaby, March 2020. (Trans Mountain)
Check your workplace COVID-19 safety plans, Dr. Henry urges

Masks in public spaces, distance in lunchrooms for winter

B.C.’s Court of Appeal is in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Judgment reserved in Surrey Six slayings appeals

Six men were killed in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Kelowna City Hall has been vandalized overnight. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Kelowna City Hall hit by anti-pandemic vandalism

Graffiti condemning the virus appears overnight on City Hall

FILE – A woman smokes a marijuana joint at a “Wake and Bake” legalized marijuana event in Toronto on October 17, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov
Home nurse visits could play big role in reducing cannabis use, smoking in young mothers

The program, dubbed the BC Healthy Connections Project, involves public health nursing home visits

Most Read