South Lake Tahoe couple have 55th wedding anniversary
Provided to the Tribune
Glenn and Shirley Smith celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary June 19 with a picnic for two in the forest at South Lake Tahoe. They were married June 19, 1949, at Portland, Ore., where they both were born and raised.
After spending two years in an all-boys high school, Glenn transferred to a co-ed school, where he met Shirley in a biology class. He told his buddy, “That’s the kind of a girl I could marry.” To spend time together they collected “bugs” as an excuse. Glenn was 16 and Shirley was 14.
In the summer of 1945 at the age of 17, Glenn joined the Forest Service as a log scaler – a worker who measures the board foot content of logs in the woods. After fighting 21 fires that summer he decided to become a forester. Following graduation from high school, Glenn attended Oregon State University, Corvallis, for one term. He ran out of savings, so he joined the U.S. Army and became a drill instructor at Ft. Dix, N.J.
He returned to college under the G.I. Bill and married Shirley, when he was 21 and she was 18. Glenn was called back into the Army during the Korean War and served stateside. He then went back to Oregon State and graduated in 1952. He was assigned to Ochoco National Forest, 70 miles out of Prineville, Ore., where he was a junior forester and earned $3,750 a year. His first job at the Rager Ranger Station, was to move into the rangers home with Shirley and their newborn daughter, Sherrie, while two high school boys built their home. Wood was salvaged from an old goat barn and they had to plane off the goat urine from the boards. The foundation wasn’t square, so all construction was a major problem.
Shirley was expecting another baby, so Glenn’s mother, a nurse, came to help. Son Joshua was born at home as the road was closed due to snow and the hand-crank telephone was out. They notified the doctor by mail and the total cost of prenatal care was $19. Groceries were purchased in Prineville from a grocer who also sent magazines and pharmacy supplies on the weekly Forest Service supply truck; the Rager Ranger Station had its own electric generator that was shut down at 9 p.m; their first major purchase was a deep freeze and they used vacations to hunt elk and deer; and the first time the couple went out to dinner was on their 10th anniversary. The church they attended was 15 miles away and in the winter the frozen wheel ruts would guide the car most of the way.
Glenn was transferred to Lassen National Park in 1957 as assistant ranger. Shirley endured the heat of Red Bluff, while Glenn worked Monday through Friday in the cool mountains. He spent one summer going from one fire to the next. He would just get home, wash clothes and was gone again. By then, David and Jeanne had been born and the Smiths were transferred to Paskeata, Calif., just before Daniel arrived. There was lots of cowboy stuff in range management and Glenn impounded trespass cattle. They were involved in a non-denominational church, where Shirley played the piano and both were active in Sunday school activities.
Glenn and Shirley decided they would never put in applications for transfer, but would let God direct their course by accepting whatever job was offered. The Forest Supervisor asked Glenn to submit an application to be the director for a Youth Conservation Corp. That didn’t materialize, but two weeks later he was the district ranger at Pinehurst on the Sequoia National Forest and worked closely with the National Park Service. Next the forest supervisor asked him to take the 500,000-acre Kernville Ranger District. He said yes and they were there two weeks later.
Immediately upon their arrival, the bridge from the ranger station to the main part of town washed out just before Christmas and Shirley was stressed to order presents for the children. Glenn had a major workload. He had to rebuild the road and campgrounds upriver and a motorcycle gang took over a “day-use-only” site and camped out on the sandy beach. At 4 a.m. one U.S. Marshall and 24 sheriff deputies swept the area and arrested 53 people. They hauled them to Bakersfield where the U.S. Magistrate fined them $3,500.
After five years Glenn attended Michigan State College, where he earned a master’s degree in natural resources administration. In the summer of 1973 he was assigned to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit as deputy administrator. He coordinated Forest Service activities with TRPA, California and Nevada state agencies and sat on the TRPA governing board for 11Ú2 years as Regional Foresters representative. Glenn retired in 1983 and was involved in forest management consulting until 1993.
He now volunteers with the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, teaching, training and participating in search and rescue patrols. He developed a Coast Guard Auxiliary Air Squadron of five planes and observers, which patrol local lakes, the Delta and the Northern California coast. Glenn joined the Civil Air Patrol four years ago as an aerial observer. Last May, while starting a search for a missing plane, their plane crashed in the meadow south of Longs Drugs, but the three observers survived with some injuries.
Upon their arrival at South Lake Tahoe they joined the First Baptist Church, where Shirley was choir director and pianist and Glenn was a deacon and Sunday school teacher. For the past 10 years they have attended Sierra Community Church. Shirley, who has conducted weekly Bible studies in their home for 18 years, loves to read, garden and prepare women’s Bible studies, whether she uses them or not. Glenn has taught classes at Barton Skilled Nursing Center for five years.
They couple has strong family ties and daily e-mails keep the family close.
They have five children, who all married Christian spouses, 15 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren, including a boy-and-girl set of twins.
Glenn and Shirley say that serving God’s love and direction in their lives is what has kept them so close through 55 years of marriage and He has certainly blessed their life together.