GALENA, Ill. — Twenty-two years ago, Diann and Robert Marsh moved to Galena, drawn by the local historic preservation scene.

In October, the couple, now both 86, will celebrate 68 years of marriage. Their story began in California, though neither was born there.

Robert, born in Detroit moved to Tustin, Calif., with his family from Roseville, Mich., in 1947. In 1952, Diann Travis and her family made a similar move from Peoria, Ill., to Tustin.

Robert and Diann both were high school seniors in 1952, though they didn’t have any classes together. During an assembly, Diann’s sister pointed Robert out and said if she hadn’t already had a boyfriend, she would have liked to date Robert.

“That’s the first time I saw him,” Diann said. “I thought he was pretty good looking.”

Robert also had noticed Diann around school.

“In between classes, she went from one building to another and I noticed,” Robert said. “She was very attractive.”

One day, Robert stopped by Diann’s locker and asked her to the prom.

“I think we were the shyest people at the whole prom,” Diann said.

But Diann and Robert liked each other enough to meet again and again and again.

Within the next week, they met for a yearbook autograph party, a dinner after their graduation from Tustin High School and a movie date.

Then Diann and her family left for a monthlong trip back to Illinois.

By coincidence, Robert was driving through Tustin in his 1939 Ford when he saw Diann’s family on their way back from the trip.

“We were coming down the street to get to our house at the end of the trip, and there was his car, his 1939 Ford, right in front of us,” Diann said. “He went and parked in our driveway and welcomed us home.”

“I wasn’t waiting for them — it just happened I was on the same street,” Robert said.

“I guess it was a good sign,” Diann said.

A few months later, they were married on Oct. 16, 1953, at Santa Ana First United Methodist Church.

Robert began studying as a sheet metal apprentice at Orange Coast College, and Diann worked at a local department store.

By 1961, Diann and Robert had five children. They moved to a small ranch in Norco, Calif. They had two more children, bringing the total to seven — Elaine Rumaker, Randy, Robin Patrick, Kevin, Eric, Virginia Huff and Rodney.

On Sundays, Robert would take the children to animal auctions at the local feed store, where they met with friends and found pets to take home.

Robert and the boys participated in the YMCA Indian Guides program, and the girls participated in Indian Maidens. The family enjoyed camping trips.

“He’s dependable and dedicated to being a father and a husband,” Diann said of Robert.

Whenever Rumaker had to give her parents’ occupations while growing up, she would say her mother was an artist. Today, Diann enjoys painting old houses.

In 1974, the family moved to Orange County, where Robert and Diann decided they wanted to live in a historic neighborhood. They found a 1903 Craftsman Bungalow in Anaheim, Calif.

“Our life really changed quite a bit because we became involved in historical societies and groups that are interested in historic houses,” Diann said.

Diann worked in historic preservation for 23 years for the state and Orange County. She wrote multiple books on local history. After 40 years in the heating and cooling industry, Robert retired in 1993.

He decided it was time to pursue a dream he had since childhood and started a second career as a long-distance truck driver, which he did for eight years.

“I always liked trucks and the over-the-road vagabond kind of thing,” he said. “It appealed to me ever since I was a little kid. I tried to get in the trucking business when I was 18, but didn’t make it, so I was 62 when I finally got in.”

On a trip to see family, Diann visited Galena. She arranged to come back with Robert. They fell in love with the strong local interest in historic preservation and decided to move.

Twenty-two years later, they still live in Galena. They have 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

“They’re amazing,” Huff said. “They hold hands and whenever one is leaving, ... they always kiss.”

The couple are involved with local history, art, social and writing groups. Diann has written two books about Galena and contributed to several others.

According to their children, both Diann and Robert are hard workers.

“When she sets her mind to something, she keeps after it until she gets what she’s after,” Robert said.

Robert and Diann agree that love and trust are essential to a relationship.

“They have this special relationship that we should all strive for,” Huff said.

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