In 1952, Betty Kuhl met a young Korean War veteran named Bill Fritz.
Bill, who had just returned from a year in the service, was friends with John Grotkin, the young man who happened to be dating Betty’s sister, Dorothy.
One day, Grotkin stopped to offer Betty a ride and promised to introduce her to his friend.
“Bill was real nice looking with black hair and a nice smile,” Betty said. “I said, ‘Oh, boy, that sounds good.’ Afterwards I thought, ‘I hope he liked me because that would be a good guy to go out with.’”
He was shy, but it soon became clear that he liked Betty as much as she liked him.
The Dubuque couple now has been married for 67 years.
Betty and Bill went together to movies and stock car races when they were dating. In 1953, Dorothy and John Grotkin were married. Betty and Bill were in the wedding party.
A year later, on Aug. 21, 1954, the two couples switched places. Betty, then 22, and Bill, then 23, were married at Holy Ghost Church in Dubuque.
Devoted members of the parish, Betty and Bill were regular faces helping at Holy Ghost bingo nights for 40 years.
The couple enjoyed supper clubs, picnics that included games of volleyball, card games and time spent with friends and family.
“I have a temper, and he puts up with it most of the time, but eventually he’ll speak up, too,” Betty said. “We had to learn to talk to each other and be more patient.”
Betty worked at Dubuque Packing Co. before their first daughter, Jane Luchsinger, was born ten minutes before their second wedding anniversary.
“Other girls were all having babies and I thought, ‘Ain’t I ever going to get a baby?’” Betty said. “I thought if I had one baby, I’d have another. It never happened.”
Twelve years after Luchsinger, the family adopted their second daughter, Tammy Conrad.
Their first house on Elm Street in Dubuque featured a large garden that kept them busy with tomatoes, beans and raspberries. Later, they lived on Delmonaco Drive.
Eventually, Betty went back to work, serving hot lunches at Dubuque Community Schools for 18 years. Bill worked for Continental Baking Co. for more than 30 years.
Bill’s work woke him up early at 3 a.m. When he got back from making deliveries in Epworth, Cascade and Anamosa before the stores there opened, he would help around the house and with dinner.
In retirement, Bill enjoyed fishing and volunteering with St. Vincent de Paul Society.
In recent years, Bill and Betty have slowed down. They have lived at Oak Park Place, a senior living facility, for six years, where their refrigerator is covered in pictures and handmade cards from the grandchildren.
They have five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
“I had my day,” Bill said.
“That’s his saying,” Luchsinger said. “’I had my day of having fun.’”
Throughout their marriage, Bill doted on Betty. Showering his wife with flowers and gifts for every occasion has always been important to him, but nowadays, it’s often Betty who takes care of Bill.
“For years, he was the one to take care of things when she was running all the time,” Luchsinger said. “Now she does more care for him.”
Faith is important to the family, Luchsinger said.
“We always kept our prayers going,” Betty said.