By David B. Hardt
Fife Free Press
As a senior basketball player, Walter Nelson was a big man on campus. As a star of Enumclaw High School’s basketball team in the early 1940s, he was well liked, talented and there was no shortage of girls vying for his attention.
One day in algebra, Nelson turned his attention to a girl sitting in the front row. She was a lowly freshman named Marvel, and she would soon change his life forever.
At first, Marvel could not have cared less about the hardwood superstar sitting in the back of the room. But as time went on, Walter found ways to be around her because something about her intrigued him. After several flirtations and notes exchanged between the two, a high school romance began to blossom.
“I knew she [Marvel] lived out in the farmland in Enumclaw, and I was living in the city,” Walter said. “After some time, we just got together.
Although Walter was a senior and Marvel was a freshman, no one had an issue with the new couple. Marvel said it was easy to talk to her Walter, and that the two got along great.
Walter graduated high school in 1941. He enlisted in the U.S Navy and was deployed out to sea to defend the country during World War II. Nevertheless, no sea was powerful enough and no mountain tall enough to stop the love and passion from blooming between the two former classmates.
While Walter was away, Marvel continued to write him love letters. The bond was set, and a shared future was planned for when the lovebirds would reunite.
Marvel graduated high school, and Walter was honorably discharged from the Navy in December 1945. After years of mail correspondence, the two had built a friendship, and developed a deep trust and love for one another. They finally married on Feb. 16, 1946.
And almost seven decades later, the couple is still in love.
This Feb. 14 will represent the Nelsons’ 66th Valentine’s Day together.
“We plan to spend this special anniversary doing one of our favorite things…going out to dinner,” Marvel said.
Nowadays, the couple still enjoys each other’s company. They enjoy visits from their two adult children, relax together to watch TV and continue to enjoy adventures while residing at Mill Ridge Village retirement home in Milton.
When asked about the secret to a healthy, loving, long-term marriage, Marvel summed it up.
“I think you need to keep your sense of humor and not take life so seriously,” she said. “You really must be able to give and take. These days people take marriage as a lark, and they don’t go into it with the idea of staying married, even treating marriage like it is disposable.”
It is important to be dedicated and faithful, Walter said. Both agreed one of the keys is not to sweat the small stuff.
“You need to find someone you really love,” Walter said.