Roy and Ila Ralston celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary on Tuesday, May 15. They were married in 1937. Ila is 101 and Roy is 102.
Roy and Ila Ralston of Pratt have done something very few people will ever do. On May 15, they celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary. That’s not a misprint. They were married at 6 p.m. on May 15 in 1937. Rev. A.G. Lovell performed the ceremony under a tree across from the Church of God in Pratt. Walt Miller and Reva Covey were witnesses. Ila is now 101 and Roy is 102.
Roy was visiting his mother, who was in the Ninnescah Hospital, now the Ninnescah Apartments, when he met Ila, who was a nurse in training. It was late in 1936 in November or December. Roy was 21 and Ila was 20. She made a very good impression on him and a two or three days later he asked her out. Roy admitted that she was on his mind the whole time. After two months of dating, Roy asked Ila to get married and just six months after they first met, they were married. It was a love story that has lasted for 81 years.
Ila was the first and only girl Roy was ever serious about.
“She kind of filled the bill,” Roy said.
They didn’t have much money so dates were often just a drive in the country and sitting in the car. They got involved in the Twin Mound Club in the Cullison area and often took part in activities there including playing cards with Earl and Hattie Rose. They also went square dancing at the Pratt Army Air Field and were part of the Pratt Saddle Club. They often rode horses in the hills around Cullison, Ila said.
“All our entertainment didn’t cost much,” Roy said.
Roy was drafted into the Army during World War II and served for 15 months in the South Pacific. Other than that, they have been together continuously for over eight decades. “While I was in the service, those 15 months were the only time we were apart,” Roy said.
With a marriage that has lasted this long, there should be a secret or two about having a long, happy marriage. For Roy and Ila it was hard work. And that was work necessary to pay the bills.
Times were hard. The U.S. was starting to come out of the Depression and the dirty thirties and it was hard to get enough money to pay the bills. All those first years they just barely made a living.
“There were never any two people poorer than us,” Roy said.
Ila said all they knew was hard work. But Roy took care to make sure he was always clean and that was important to Ila.
Roy said Ila was a good cook. Ila said, with a smile, ‘I doubt it.’ She had to cook because they didn’t get to town very often to buy prepared food.
But through it all, good times and bad, they cared for each other deeply.
“All we knew was hard work,” Roy said. “I’ve taken pretty good care of her. We’ve had a good time together.”
Roy quit high school when he was a sophomore and went to work for the Rock Island railroad on a labor gang and made 32 cents an hour. He lived in a work bunkhouse at Cullison and was working for Rock Island when he met Ila. Three months after they got married, he quit working for the railroad and went to work for Ezra Elliot and that was seven days a week.
Ila quit nursing after they got married. She raised their daughter Karen, their only child, and later worked at the First National Bank for 26 years.
Roy was drafted into the Army when their daughter Karen was just 14 months old. Ila moved to Cullison while he was in the service and rented a house for $6 a month. Roy ended up in Korea where he was a Military Police officer. When he was honorably dis- charged, he had a total of $420.
After he returned from the war, he worked at R&R Tank as a tank hauler. Lat- er he was a manager at Mid Kansas Irrigation.
Eventually they built a house outside Pratt in 1955 and lived there until they moved to Pratt Health and Rehab. For her entire life, Ila has lived in Pratt County.
Once, they took a trip to California to see if they wanted to live there. But after dealing with California traffic, they turned around and headed back to Cullison.
Their daughter is the most important person in their lives along with their grandson and great grandchildren.
Roy and Ila have a grandson Jeff Slade who is married to Amy and they have four great-grand children Wyatt, Buck, Justin and Tucker.