With a 60th wedding anniversary approaching this summer, R.C. and Sue Seppelt offered some straightforward advice as part of their secret to a lasting marriage, keep it simple. It’s only fitting that this Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Feature has a KIS(S) theme.
“When I look back on how we met and all of the things we have been through in our time together, and then I compare to today… wow have things changed,” said Sue. “It was so much simpler back then. Life just wasn’t nearly as complicated as it has become today.”
R.C said he has to agree, noting that there have been plenty of important decisions in his life where he just pulled the trigger and went for it.
As far as this couple’s 60-year voyage together, that started in 1959 when R.C. decided to move to California. The Knox County native was attending college in Rolla when he altered course, dramatically.
“It just wasn’t for me,” R.C. said about the college life. “It wasn’t working out so one day I decided to hop on a train and head to California.”
That’s just what he did, spending his last $60 on the travel fare. It was such a spur of the moment decision, the young man didn’t even have enough money to pay for meals on the route.
“There was a gentleman on the tarining also heading out tot he L.A. area and we struck up a friendship and he ended up picking up my meal checks,” recalls R.C. “I took his address and once I got my feet underneath me I sent him a thank you letter with money to pay back his kindness.”
While Sue was born in Oklahoma, she had called Hawthorne, California home since 1944.
“The high school I attended was so big it was like a college,” she said. “I went to school with the Beach Boys and NFL Hall of Famer Ron Mix.’
Not long off the train, R.C. found his way into a job at Filon, a large manufacturing company that built fiber glass products, such as garage door panels.
“I started out as a general helper, kind of a gopher type position and by the time I was 26 I was a foreman,” said R.C.
As part of the workplace, R.C. became a member of the company bowling team. It was on one of those outings that he first met Sue.
“She caught my eye and before the night was over, I had told one of my teammates that I was going to take her home,” said R.C.
Sure enough the bachelor worked up the courage to approach Sue and strike up a conversation and ultimately provide transportation home from the competition.
That started a whirlwind courtship of all of 90 days. It didn’t take the couple long to figure out they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and they were wed on July 29, 1960..
“We had been dating for three months when agreed it was time to get married,” said Sue. “Basically we did sort of an elopement.”
R.C. points out that he may have one of the smallest wedding bills in history. The entire process cost him a whopping $5.
“People today spend thousands and thousands of dollars on their wedding and then they don’t even stay together for a year or two,” he joked. “Sue and I invested a five dollar bill and have made it last 60 years.”
R.C. said it took a bit of convincing of the pastor, who was the recipient of the entire financial allotment of the service costs.
“He tried to counsel us as a couple he thought might have to be getting married, and we let him know that wasn’t the case, we simply were ready to tie the knot,” said R.C.
“Yeah I was even dressed in my dental assistant uniform, so I was wearing white,” Sue joked.
The couple called Hawthorne home for next decade before deciding to make the move back to R.C.s roots.
“I had a really good paying job, but housing was just so expensive in Los Angeles, it felt like we were never going to be able to buy a home,” said R.C.
Sue also noted that big city life was a bit scary when raising their two young children, Troy and Tami.
The couple did their own version of Green Acres, moving back to Scotland County where they took residence on a pig farm.
“It was quite a culture shock to say the least,” recalls Sue. “We just thought everyone here farmed, so we would too. My mother kept telling me I needed to write a book, but I had to say ‘mother, everyone around here lives this way.'”
For the next three years the family maintained a feeder pig businesses. During that time R.C. took work as a foreman at the Morris Chain company in Keokuk, IA and Sue gained employment at the Scotland County Hospital. Eventually they got out of farming and focused full-time on their careers.
Sue spent the first decade in Scotland County working first as a nurse’s aide before becoming an Operating Room Technician at Scotland County Memorial Hospital. R.C. stuck with Morris Chain until 1985.
At one point, they considered move to Covington, KY, when R.C.s employer offered to make him an executive at a new expansion plant in the Midwest.
“We took the kids for a visit, but it just didn’t feel right,” said R.C. “It was going to be a pretty big financial jump up for us, but we decided that Memphis was home for us now.”
Eventually the couple purchased the Scotland County Lanes Bowling alley in 1979. Then in 1985 R.C. started Scotland County Lanes Vending service from the remnants of a similar partnership called M & E Vending that he had been a part of with various other area businessmen.
“I think that has been one of the keys for us over all these years,” said R.C. “Sure we had our jobs, but it stills seemed like everything we did, we did together.”
That includes the bowling alley which has been with the family now for nearly three decades.
“When we first got it, i thought it would be okay as everyone who had owned it had kept it for nine or 10 years and then sold it,” said Sue, who eventually decided to transition into the business fulltime and give up her hospital work. “Of course 30 years later here we are still.”
Sue points to the work as something that has helped with the couple’s longevity.
“Our doctor has told us that on more than one occasion, crediting our relatively good health to the fact that we have been and continue to be hard workers,” said Sue. “I suspect that may have something to do with our marriage as well. We just keep working, keeping getting up and going and keep doing the best we can.”