Arvada couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Carl and Johnsie Nielson married on Thanksgiving Day 1948

Posted 1/8/19

Carl and Johnsie Nielson say the key to a long marriage is sharing. They should know: The Arvada couple celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Nov. 25. Carl, 92, and Johnsie, 90, married on …

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Arvada couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Carl and Johnsie Nielson married on Thanksgiving Day 1948

Posted

Carl and Johnsie Nielson say the key to a long marriage is sharing.

They should know: The Arvada couple celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary Nov. 25.

Carl, 92, and Johnsie, 90, married on Thanksgiving Day 1948 in Gooding, Idaho.

They met earlier that year, when Carl — returning from serving in World War II with the U.S. Navy — walked into the employment office, where Johnsie was working at the time. They grew up in the small farming town and knew of each other but, until that day, hadn’t met.

“It was a small town so you know a little bit of everybody,” Johnsie explained. “So, I knew his family, but I didn’t know him.”

Carl was studying pre-med at Brigham Young University in Utah when the war started and he joined his brothers serving in the Pacific Theater. Following the war, Carl attended Utah State University, where he earned a degree in engineering. In 1952, the couple moved with their two sons to San Francisco, where Carl worked in the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard. A few years later, Carl’s engineering work took them to the U.S. Navy submarine base in New London, Connecticut, where their third son was born.

In 1958, during the Cold War, Carl was given an additional duty for seven months by serving as a gun-fire control inspector for destroyers with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Shortly after returning stateside, he was asked to go on the USS Seawolf — the world’s second nuclear-powered submarine. He was the only civilian on the top-secret patrol, which spent 60 days underwater gathering intelligence.

“He has been away an awful lot and I’ve been mother, father, grandma — but we managed,” Johnsie said. She worked as a secretary until the 1950s when she became a full-time mother.

“I devoted myself to my kids and volunteer jobs,” Johnsie said. “It was a pleasure taking care of them.”

After leaving military assignments in 1961, the family moved to Granville, Ohio, where Carl worked for Bell Labs and helped with significant innovations in telephone systems designs, including speed dialing, call forwarding, three-way calling and busy-line call-back.

In 1969, the Nielsons moved to Boulder, where Carl continued to work in telephone systems and Johnsie continued a wide variety of volunteer work.

In 1977, the shah of Iran asked for help from AT&T to design a new phone system for his country. Carl and Johnsie moved to Tehran to live, to assist in the new design and to learn from another culture. They were there for 14 months until Ayatollah Khomeini started the revolution in the summer of 1978.

“The situation went from bad to worse with mobs, fire burning in the streets and gunfire,” Carl recalled.

That’s when they returned to Colorado, where they have lived now for 40 years. Arvada has been their home since 2000.

Just after Christmas, they moved from their home on Queen Circle to Brookdale Meridian Arvada senior living facility.

“We made it,” Johnsie said of their 70th wedding anniversary. “It was quite a number of years and all the things we went through. It wasn’t easy, but life isn’t easy. We’ve enjoyed it.”

Besides their three sons, the two have seven grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. In July last year, they all got together for a family reunion to celebrate their anniversary and both Carl and Johnsie reaching 90 years old.

For him, Carl said, the milestone anniversary is a symbol of toughness, forgiveness and love.

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