Every time Harold Oglesby sends a card to his wife of almost 65 years, he closes with the same line, “Amo te.”
The phrase, the only thing he remembers from long-ago Latin classes, means “I love you.”
Harold Oglesby and Ruth Beyer were married on Oct. 13, 1956, at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Dubuque, and they still are devoted members of the parish. She was 20, and he was 22.
The couple’s longstanding joke is that guests might have been confused at first about whose wedding they were invited to. Though the invitation declared the pending nuptials of Harold and Ruth, everyone knew the couple as Harry and Ann, the bride’s middle name.
They met four years earlier when they were both invited to a birthday dance at Moose Hall on Central Avenue in Dubuque.
“At that time, the girls used to dance together, and the boys would cut in,” Ann said. “His best friend wanted to dance with my best friend, so he and his friend cut in.”
Their friends didn’t stick together, but Harold and Ann did. They continued to meet at dances, and Ann enjoyed attending Harold’s basketball games. Ann attended St. Joseph Academy, while Harold went to school at Loras Academy.
“It was quite thrilling to see my boyfriend play basketball,” Ann said. “He always said he’d get a basketball team one day.”
And he did. After getting married, the couple had five sons, Tom, Steve, Joe, Jeff and Mike Oglesby.
Five years after the youngest son was born, they had two daughters, Diane Rambousek and Mary Ellen Oglesby.
“All our friends would congregate around our house to get a game going,” Joe Oglesby said.
All of the children were paper carriers for the Telegraph Herald. At one point, the family was covering four paper routes.
“They were top-notch parents,” Rambousek said.
Harold got a machinist job at John Deere, where he worked for 32 years until his retirement in 1992. Before that, he had worked at a shoe shop.
Ann found herself a place at the sewing machine. She learned a lot about sewing while helping her mother read patterns.
“I’d read them to her and she’d explain what she was doing,” Ann said.
Ann started sewing herself when she made her own maternity clothes.
She made first communion dresses, wedding dresses and costumes. One year, she sewed 30 dresses for brides, bridesmaids and flower girls for four family weddings. Another time, she sewed 20 costumes for a production of “Mulan.”
“To be together that long, they have a truly deep love and respect for one another,” Joe Oglesby said.
Since retirement, much of the couple’s time has been dedicated to their 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
“We did a lot of babysitting over the years, taking care of the kids while their parents worked,” Harold said.
It was a job that both were happy to do. They still reminisce fondly about how Harold used to put one grandson to sleep by pushing the stroller in loops around the dining room table or the time they swung a granddaughter through the park on the way to school.
“We used to pick the kids up from school ...” Harold said,
“... and take them down to the river,” Ann said, finishing Harold’s sentence. “They’d watch the trucks coming over the bridge.”
In 2016, Mike, their youngest son, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
That year, 28 members of the family traveled to a University of Notre Dame football game, fulfilling an item from Mike’s bucket list.
“Notre Dame won over Wake Forest,” Harold said. “It was a beautiful October day.”
The disease moved quickly, and Mike died two months after his diagnosis. The family formed the Michael W. Oglesby Foundation to raise money for research and to honor Mike.
Ann said communication and faith are important in a relationship.
“Our faith played more of a role than anything,” Ann said. “That’s what I think kept us together all these years.”
The key to a good marriage, Harold said, is having a good partner. In his opinion, Ann is a great wife, mother, grandmother and friend.
“Everything pretty well falls into place with good children and great grandkids and great-grandkids,” he said. “... It’s having grandchildren and stuff like that that ties everything together. Going to their events keeps you busy. ... It’s a story in itself.”