Brummels celebrate 70 years of marriage

HAPPY TOGETHER: Clairine and Foster Brummel sit side-by-side in their living room shortly before their 70th anniversary. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

HAPPY TOGETHER: Clairine and Foster Brummel sit side-by-side in their living room shortly before their 70th anniversary. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — The year is 1946; the month, December; the day, Saturday, Dec. 7. Harry Truman is president of the United States and Frank Capra’s holiday film “It’s a Wonderful Life” will debut in theaters in two weeks.

For Foster Brummel and Clairine Hassevort, this is their wedding day. After a small family ceremony in Grand Haven, the couple settled down and began a family.

Fast forward seven decades, four children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, and Dec. 7 will be their 70th anniversary.

“It’s the day everyone will send her a sympathy card and me a congratulations card,” joked Foster, his eyes twinkling behind his glasses.

“Oh, come on, Foster! Nobody does that!” answered Clairine, with a playful tap on his hand in rebuke.

NEWLYWEDS: Foster and Clairine Brummel sit for a portrait around the time of their wedding, which was Dec. 7, 1946. (Courtesy photo)

NEWLYWEDS: Foster and Clairine Brummel sit for a portrait around the time of their wedding, which was Dec. 7, 1946. (Courtesy photo)

The two met at a Fourth of July celebration in Overisel, in Allegan County. Both of them had arrived with a group of friends.

“She was there with her girlfriends and I was with some of the fellows,” Foster said. “I thought, ‘Wow, look at her!’”

When Foster and Clairine Brummel were wed, the minister gave them a list of 10 tips to make the marriage successful. In the ensuing years, Foster would share the list the Rev. Harry Vander Ark provided with others through his own ministry.

Ten Tips for a Blissful Marriage

1.    Don’t expect paradise. Paradise is for the dead; marriage is for the living.

2.    Respect each other.

3.    Avoid undue familiarity with others.

4.    Make sure you and your spouse are never angry at the same time. Just as it takes two to make a marriage, it takes two to make a quarrel.

5.    Remember things go wrong occasionally in the best-regulated households.

6.    Build your dreams and hopes together, according to God’s will.

7.    Study each other and try to make each other happy.

8.    Put home life first, with Christ as the head of your home.

9.    Show your affection for each other.

10.    Avoid being cynical.

The attraction was mutual.

“You were the man I wanted,” said Clairine simply, looking at Foster.

Foster quit high school to marry Clairine, but he would later return to school when he decided to become a minister in 1951. For about five years, while Foster completed his training, the couple lived with his parents.

“She picked blueberries in the summers so we could make it,” Foster recalled, looking fondly at his wife.

“I took good care of you and you always took good care of me,” Clairine said.

Clairine would follow Foster to several churches throughout his career. Several were in southwest Michigan before he came to Woodville in January of 1963 to lead the Woodville Community Church. Foster remained as pastor there for 29 years, until his retirement in August of 1992.

FAMILY PORTRAIT: The entire Brummel family poses for a portrait when the children were young. Standing in back are Wayne and Marcia, with Sheryl on Foster's lap and David on Clairine's. (Courtesy photo)

FAMILY PORTRAIT: The entire Brummel family poses for a portrait when the children were young. Standing in back are Wayne and Marcia, with Sheryl on Foster’s lap and David on Clairine’s. (Courtesy photo)

Clairine recalls Foster’s ministry with pride, especially his times counseling young couples both before and after marriage. She would sometimes watch the couples’ children to allow Foster to work with the parents with minimal distraction.

“He’s always been great with young people,” she said, with pride in her eyes. “He really listens when young people had problems to share.”

Though Foster jokes the secret to staying married so long is two little words — “Yes, dear” — he gives the real credit to their faith and the willingness to work at the relationship.

“It takes the two of you to make a marriage,” he said. “You can either fight or you can love each other. It’s much more fun to love each other than it is to fight — why not let that love grow?

“You should always put Jesus first, the other person second and you yourself third.”

Clairine noted the pair worked together as much as possible, both at home and in Foster’s ministry.

“We always worked for the Lord in everything we did,” she said. “When I could, I’d go with him on calls to peoples’ homes and such.”

After 70 years, even a casual observer can see the two still treasure each other. Foster extends his arm to guide his wife down the stairs to show off her handmade quilts to a visitor. Clairine reaches for his hand every time they sit down, even though they’re right next to each other.

“We just know each other real well,” Foster said, smiling at his wife.

CONNECTIONS: Clairine Brummel reaches for her husband Foster's hand as the two reminisce over photos hanging on the wall in their home. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

CONNECTIONS: Clairine Brummel reaches for her husband Foster’s hand as the two reminisce over photos hanging on the wall in their home. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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