Jim & Joyce Ekstrom
Jim and Joyce Ekstroms celebration of their 70th anniversary is quite a marriage milestone. Statistics show that 0.01% of all people currently married will reach their 70th anniversary (one in 10,000 couples). Jim & Joyce both attended Denfeld H.S. in Duluth where Jim was Captain of his tumbling team. After graduating, he joined the Army Air Corps for pilot training. The day of his solo flight WWII ended. Jim & Joyce finally met at the bedside of a sick friend at St. Lukes hospital. It was love at first sight!
Who would have thought that on June 19, 1948 at a candlelight service at Zion Lutheran in Duluth, MN (their hometown) that a Swedish boy named James Ekstrom would marry a Norwegian-German girl, Joyce Denzler! After a honeymoon trip to Yellowstone, Jim (22) and Joyce (20) settled in Duluth.
If there is one thing about Jim & Joyces marriage that is special, that one thing is music! It all started because Jim fell in love with Joyce not only because she was a good looker but also because of her musical talent and a piano soon joined the newlyweds as one of their first purchases. Growing up, Joyce recalls how she learned to play piano by watching and listening to a pianist at the now defunct dept. store, Glass Block. "We didnt have any money to go out and buy music. My mother said, Were not paying 35 cents for a piece of popular music but I will take you down to Glass Block. They have a woman there who plays piano, & you can ask her to play the music you want to hear!" Joyce thought, "Great, but what would I do if I couldnt memorize it? So I had to memorize it just like that by listening once and sometimes twice. "My mom would then ask me, Did you get it Joyce?...now lets go home so you can play the song and thats exactly what I did!" To this day, Jim can sit for hours just listening to her play the piano. Joyce was the church organist at Zion for many years and they both sang in the choir.
After WWII was over, Jim wondered, "Where are the veterans and their young families going to live when they return from the war?" Jim soon became an independent building contractor and built over 30 homes in Duluth for the veterans. Two daughters, Trudy and Debbie arrived in their lives and then Jim built the Airliner Motel. Their family managed it from 1958-63. "We enjoyed meeting people from all over the world by owning that motel," Joyce said. "And everybody liked staying there, toowe had the first permitted outdoor swimming pool in Duluth and free TVs in all of the rooms! Today, they wouldnt even advertise free TV!" The family then moved west first to CA, then to NM, then finally to Las Vegas, NV where they have lived for the last 22 years. Two sons-in-laws later joined the family; then 4 granddaughters and 2 grandsons; throw in 20 years of RV travel, 60 cruises, 8 great-grandchildren that enhanced their lives and here we are today 70 years later!
Jim and Joyce have passed on their love of music as a musical heritage to their children and to their grandchildren. Their daughter Trudy and her husband John sing in the church choir at St. Andrews Lutheran in Las Vegas where Jim & Joyce are also members. Jim & Joyces other daughter Debbie just retired from 37 years of teaching elementary music. In fact, she & her husband Randy were married 20 years ago on her parents 50th and Jim & Joyce sang "Oh Perfect Love" for their wedding! Debbie & Randy are members of Our Saviors Lutheran in San Clemente, CA. Whenever Jim & Joyce can get the family together they ultimately gather around the piano enjoying the songs of love. Jim and Joyce currently reside in Las Vegas relaxing and playing piano and they continue to enjoy their life together.
"How did we make it 70 years? Well he was just easy to live with. I told him he could make all the major, big decisions and Id make all the small decisions. So far there havent been any big ones," Joyce said with a smile! "He let me be the boss and so he had a good boss," Joyce said. "Any advice? You have to have a little humor in your lifeyou cant get too serious or bogged down too much, you know what I mean? And you have to be in love to keep going. Just let that love keep going from one year to the next!"
On June 10, friends and family who have known each other over the last seven decades gathered in Las Vegas to celebrate alongside the couple. Grandchildren: Tiffany Roberts & Melody Mestemacher, Michelle & Noelle Kraus Jonathan & Mikael Peterson Great- grandchildren: Jackson, Grace, Eva, Paige, Paityn, Paxtyn, Faith, Ada