PEOSTA, Iowa — One of the things Susan Casper liked about Terry Harris was his family.
In their 61 years of marriage, family has been essential for the couple. To this day, they still live outside of Peosta, right beside their children’s and Terry’s brothers’ homes.
They were married on April 9, 1960, at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque. Terry grew up in Dubuque, but Susan didn’t move to town until her father, Jack Casper, got a job at a local car dealership when she was a junior in high school. Before that, Susan lived in Shullsburg, Wis.
They didn’t get to know one another until Terry came back home after his sophomore year at Drake University, where he studied on a football scholarship.
“We played in the Sun Bowl in El Paso on New Year’s Day,” Terry said. “And then they told us that they were going to de-emphasize football and they would not increase our scholarships.”
Half the team left the school, including Terry, who came back home to play football and basketball at the University of Dubuque.
“Right after I came back, I went to Karigan’s Restaurant — all the kids hung out there,” Terry said. “(Susan) was with a girl I knew from high school.”
The mutual friend invited Terry to sit and asked him to give them a ride home later.
“I thought he was cute,” Susan said. “He called me the next day, and I went out with him. That’s how it all started.”
“I would describe her as the best-looking gal I ever saw,” Terry said.
The couple would get together for movies and dancing at Melody Mill.
When she graduated from high school in 1958, Susan got a job at a local optometrist’s office. Terry finished his education at the University of Dubuque. Susan was 19 and Terry was 21 when they were married in 1960.
Son Scott Harris was born a year after the wedding, and daughter Amy Haldeman was born four years later, on the day the flood of 1965 crested in Dubuque.
“She came with the flood,” Susan said.
Terry became a teacher.
He’d grown up attending a country school at the edge of town where his teacher let him take his dog to class. For fun, the students played baseball. In the classroom, the students calculated their batting averages.
Terry taught and coached at Jefferson Middle School, Washington Middle School and Dubuque Senior High School and also coached golf at Hempstead High School.
In 1970, the family moved to Peosta. Terry’s parents, Bucky and Verena Harris, sold half of their farm outside of Peosta, saving a lot for each of their three sons. The sold portions became Thunder Hills Country Club.
Terry and Susan moved in with his parents while they built their own house next door. They used wood from a barn that was being torn down to make way for the golf course, and Terry did the plumbing and wiring with his father’s help. Susan scraped the bricks and helped with the roof.
She’d never sewn before, but she also made drapes for the new house herself.
When Terry’s brothers Gary and Denny Harris began families, they built their own homes next door.
Athletics have always been a passion of the Harris household. Terry and Susan enjoyed watching their children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews play sports.
“We both participated in sports, and our parents instilled hard work and dedication to whatever sport you were in,” Scott said. “We both have kids that participated in sporting events, and Grandma and Grandpa would go to all of them.”
Susan began selling Avon cosmetics, traveling around to the farms with her products.
After Terry retired from teaching in 1998, the couple turned their focus to their business, Harris Golf Carts. Susan would deliver golf carts, hauling one in the back of a pick-up truck and another on a trailer.
“She spent a lot of nights with me until 2 in the morning, 3 in the morning, moving golf carts from one course to another,” Terry said.
Today, Terry has turned over the reins to his son and son-in-law, but he still goes into the office regularly.
The Harris brothers still live all in a row. When Bucky and Verena died, Amy and her husband moved in. Scott also found a house nearby just down the road.
Susan and Terry have six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The most important thing in a relationship, Terry said, is love.
“When we met, it was just love at first sight,” Susan said. “We didn’t look back at all.”