Imagine receiving a valentine in the mail at age 13 and 72 years later you are still receiving a valentine from that same person. Sounds like a Hallmark movie, doesn’t it? A fantastic love story for sure, and a true one at that. Yes, that’s how the love story of Norman and Dorothy Seymour started over seven decades ago. It was Valentine’s Day in 1949 when Norman sent Dorothy, as well as all of her siblings, a valentine, which Dorothy still has safely tucked away to this day.
“Valentine’s Day is kind of an anniversary for us,” said Dorothy. “I got my first valentine from him in 1949 and sent him a letter back, thanking him for it. We’ve exchanged a valentine every year since.”
The couple wed on Halloween in 1953 and will celebrate 68 years of marriage this year on Oct. 31, 2021. Over six decades of marriage, six children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren have been added to the family, creating a legacy the couple couldn’t be more proud of.
Norman and Dorothy first met because of their fathers in 1948. Norman’s dad, George Seymour, was the chairman of the school board for Fairview Country School and Dorothy’s father, Jim Wiegand, got in touch with him to find out about starting another country school closer to his farm for his children. Soon after the Hawthorn School opened for Dorothy and four of her siblings.
It was in October of 1948 that Dorothy also became involved in the same 4-H Club as Norman, where he was the president and she was the secretary. The two saw each other once a month at these meetings, but didn’t really talk much.
“The boys pretty much did all the talking,” said Dorothy with a laugh.
February of 1949, that first valentine kicked off the start of them getting to know each other, through letters. Norman received Dorothy’s thank you note and wrote back. The two then continued to write, their letters getting longer and longer.
“We moved out to the farm after I completed sixth grade in Shelby,” recalled Dorothy. “We had stayed out there for the summer before that and when seventh grade rolled around we were living there, year-round, and I attended seventh and eighth grade at Hawthorn School. I was used to having friends to play with and being in town, so being so secluded at the farm, with only my siblings for company, got lonely and winters were long. Norman’s letters were something I really looked forward to.”
“We got pretty well acquainted writing letters,” Norman added.
Norman is a year-and-a-half older than Dorothy and the two had very different childhoods. While Dorothy spent some time growing up in town and then out at the farm, she had a relatively carefree life and was able to “be a kid.”
Norman, on the other hand, grew up on the homestead he was born on, graduated the eighth grade 11 days before his 12th birthday, and was then officially a working man, farming, working in the oilfield and doing mechanic work on farm machinery and vehicles, contributing to his family’s household.
He bought his first car, a 1936 Chevrolet, at 11-years-old, and by the time he and Dorothy were in 4-H together he had purchased his third vehicle, a 1936 Dodge four-door sedan, which he taught Dorothy how to drive in.
It was 1950 when the two went on their first actual date, with Norman’s older sister, Margie, and her soon-to-be husband, Dalton. Three years later Norman and Dorothy were wed at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Shelby.
“We don’t have any wedding pictures. That was almost 70 years ago and a different time. Some people had fancy weddings and pictures were taken. Norman and I didn’t have that,” said Dorothy.
In 1954 the couple had their first of six children, Donna, and their second child, George, soon followed. Norman worked at the service station and drove truck. In 1957 the couple moved to Malta and ran the service station there together for a couple of years. Dorothy also was employed by the telephone office, something she greatly enjoyed. It was in Malta that their third child, Debbie was born.
Two years were spent in Malta before the couple returned to Shelby, Norman slightly ahead of Dorothy as she waited to transfer from her job at the telephone office in Malta to the one in Shelby. Norman went to work for Monarch Lumber and Redi Mix and when the redi mix plant closed he went to work for Dick Irvin, driving truck. Dorothy continued to work at the telephone office up until a few months before their fourth child, Cheryl, was born.
Norman continued to drive truck for Irvin and also Stan Watkins for a few years. Fifth child, Denise, came along and 13 months later, on the couple’s 10th wedding anniversary, sixth and final child, Mike was born.
Raising kids and attending all of their events kept Dorothy busy and work kept Norman just as busy. Dorothy decided to go back to high school once her children got to be a bit older and received her high school diploma along with her daughter, Debbie, in 1975. Their oldest two children were already graduated and away at college.
After working for a time at the tractor company Norman went to work for Alme Construction as a mechanic.
“I worked at Alme for 13, 14 years,” recalled Norman. “Alme was the best boss, the best job, I ever had.”
Dorothy spent 1975 to 1980 working at Larsons Clothing and then went to work for Torgersons for the next almost 15 years. In 1993 the couple embarked on a new adventure, that of owning and operating the lumberyard in Shelby, Seymour, Inc. Norman also had his own refrigeration business, Northwest Refrigeration. The two worked side-by-side at the lumberyard from 1993 until 2016, when they retired together.
Norman’s work took him a lot of different places throughout their marriage, including living in Great Falls during the week for a time while he was the Great Falls Truck Center service manager in the 1980s. In the earlier years of their marriage the kids would get to go along when he was driving truck and when he was home the family made many great memories together.
“Norman was gone a lot, but I went to everything,” said Dorothy. “Every swim meet, concert, basketball game, that was the best time.”
Once the kids were raised and moved out, Norman and Dorothy had to find something else to do with their time, besides work.
“The house remodeling stage hit with the empty nest,” smiled Dorothy. “Then square dancing.”
The couple started square dancing, something that brought them great joy, introduced them to many new friends and the opportunity to travel a bit. They spent 20 years square dancing their way around the state and Canada, only slowing up and finally stopping after owning the lumber yard and not having as much time or energy to continue.
It was also during this time that Norman and Dorothy helped raise one of their granddaughters, who came to stay with them for a time while her mom finished college and started her new career.
“Having her come stay with us gave our lives a purpose again,” said Norman.
“It was really hard after our youngest graduated and moved out,” remembered Dorothy. “Having her here during that time was wonderful.”
Life wasn’t always easy and the two faced many challenges throughout the years, but they moved forward, together, overcoming whatever life threw at them and celebrating the good times.
“We’ve always made room for each other and take time together. We’ve also maintained our originality, that keeps it interesting,” said Norman. “That’s one reason why it’s worked. We always found some way to make something out of something, even if it was nothing.”
“We also have a lot of the same principles and work ethic,” added Dorothy.
“We appreciate each other and what the other contributes,” said Norman.
“And we are very, very proud of our children and our entire extended family,” smiled Dorothy.
Holidays are very important to the Seymours and are always spent celebrating with family.
“It’s always been very important to get together with family for the holidays,” said Dorothy. “It’s not just a short time, it’s forever.”
Camping trips at Tiber and Williamson Park during the summer months have also continued to provide a wealth of great memories. Norman and Dorothy have traveled to the Bahamas, Hawaii and other places but now in their 80s and retired, they greatly enjoy their camping trips, taking drives together and working outside in their gardens during the summer months.
“We’ve had a lot of great adventures together,” said Dorothy. “A lot of great memories, a lifetime worth.”
“We have always enjoyed each other and have a lot of things we enjoy doing together,” concluded Norman. “We developed the ability early to stick it through, to get through the tough stuff and celebrate the good. We’ve had a full life, really. If we were to leave this earth tomorrow I think God would say, ‘good job.’”