Their first date was 49 years ago
By Holly Neumann
For Wirt and Carol Holm of New London, the Mid-Western Rodeo will always hold a special meaning for them.
“Wirt and I went on our very first date here 49 years ago,” said Carol. “I had never been to the rodeo, so it was a lot of fun.”
Not only did she love the excitement of it all, but she also enjoyed their time together.
“I thought he was hot,” she said, giggling.
Wirt, who was in the Army, was home on leave when that first date took place.
“I thought the rodeo was a great first date,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. I fell in love with her that night.”
Once Wirt’s leave was over, he was headed to Vietnam.
Carol recalls a letter that she received from him.
“He wrote to me and asked, ‘Do you want to marry me?’” she said. “I wrote back and said, ‘Sure, I’ll marry you.’”
A short time later, the couple met in Hawaii to tie the knot.
“Wirt told me to meet him in there over the week of Nov. 1-10,” Carol said. “He was going to be there for 10 days of rest and relaxation and said we could get married during that time.”
“I sent her money for a plane ticket,” Wirt said. “Told her if she wanted to see Hawaii, she should come early, because once I got there she was only going to see me.”
The couple married at Fort DeRussy on Nov. 5, 1968.
“We did not know anyone there,” said Wirt. “So the preacher went out the door and pulled two ladies off the street to sign out marriage license.”
With no friends or family there for the celebration, the couple thought it would be nice to go out on the town to celebrate.
“It was election day in Hawaii, so everything was closed,” he said.
The duo headed back to their hotel room only to have their very first fight.
“It was 85 degrees at night,” said Carol. “I’m a Wisconsin girl and I was not used to that heat. So I turned the air conditioning on. Wirt turned it off.”
“I was coming out of Vietnam,” he said. “It did not seem that hot to me, so I turned it off and she would turn it right back on again.”
The couple still has this very same argument today.
“But don’t worry, we kiss and make up,” Wirt said.
Five days later Wirt returned to Vietnam.
“He left on Nov. 10th ,” said Carol. “He came home for 30 days the following July, but headed back to Vietnam for another tour. We really did not see each other again until our second anniversary.”
The couple, who has four grown children, 12 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, decided to come back to the rodeo for the very first time since that first date.
“We were busy raising our children and never got the chance,” Carol said. “I thought this would be a nice place to celebrate 49 years of marriage.”
“Things have changed a lot since then,” Carol said. “It has definitely gotten a lot bigger, but it is still very exciting.”
So what has been the secret to the success of their marriage?
“Trust, understanding and working together as a team,” said Carol.
“If I knew the answer to that I would share it so everyone could have a successful relationship,” added Wirt. “All I know is that I am a lucky man.”