Federal Way couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Bob and Ann Morse, married on June 19, 1944, recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. Their trick to making it 70 years is a good sense of humor and commitment to each other. - Alisa Gramann, Mirror intern
Bob and Ann Morse, married on June 19, 1944, recently celebrated their 70th anniversary. Their trick to making it 70 years is a good sense of humor and commitment to each other.
— image credit: Alisa Gramann, Mirror intern

The year was 1944 and Robert "Bob" Morse was attending a USO dance in Oklahoma City with two of his Navy buddies when he saw three young women.

"He said, 'I'll take the short one,'" said Ann Morse, Bob's wife of 70 years.
The Morses celebrated 70 years of marriage on June 19.
"Now we're just growing old together," Ann Morse said.
What attracted Bob Morse to his wife? "I know what it was — red hair. I got a good memory, boy," Ann Morse says to her husband.



The early years
Bob was born and raised in Auburn, graduated high school in 1943 and joined the Navy.
"I just got out of high school and boom, I was in the Navy," he said.
Ann Morse corrects his memory, saying he signed up just before he graduated to avoid the draft. He also chose the Navy because he didn't want to wear a necktie, which is amusing because once he left the Navy, after nearly three years of service, he worked at the U.S. Postal Service and was required to wear a tie daily, she said.
For the first three years of their marriage, the couple lived in a 100-square-foot Navy trailer in Maryland. He worked at a high-security base in Washington D.C. and she also worked on base in the sale loft. With a background and experience in credit, Ann Morse was in for a surprise her first day when she was seated behind a sewing machine and told to put a zipper on a leather jacket, she said.
After sitting for several minutes without doing anything, the supervisor approached and asked, "What's the matter, carrot top? Can't you sew?"
"No sir, I can't," Ann Morse replied.
"They didn't ask me if I could sew when I went in there," she said with a laugh.
"It was just something you had to learn," Bob Morse added.
With the world in the midst of the second world war, the couple also worried Bob Morse's name would appear on the list of men being shipped overseas, which came out every Wednesday.
"You lived from Wednesday to Wednesday," Ann Morse recalled.



Making marriage last
The trick to lasting 70 years is a good sense of humor and a deep commitment, the couple agreed.
"You don't just holler, 'I'm going to give up,' at the first thing," Ann Morse said. "You make your marriage vows mean something."
Bob and Ann Morse were married in 1944, against everyone's wishes.
Bob Morse was visiting Ann Morse in Flagstaff, Arizona on leave when he said, "I don't want to wait, let's get married," she said.
"When I went down to Arizona I thought, 'What the heck am I doing down here?' Then we got married and that was it," Bob Morse said.
His brother, also in the military, advised Bob Morse, "Don't get married while you're in the service, it'll never last."
Ann Morse found the V-mail, or "Victory Mail," with that advice when the couple prepared to move to Quiet Forest II, a gated retirement community in Federal Way.
"I wanted to tell him, 'Hey Ben, it's lasted," Ann Morse said of her brother-in-law's advice.
The couple has enjoyed seeing their two sons, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren lead successful lives.
"I feel like that's the best legacy we could have," Ann Mores said.
The great grandchildren call them "GG," and GG never fails to have a sweet treat for the kids to eat when they come over, Ann Mores said. It may be to the parents' chagrin, but the sugar makes the couple popular, she said with a laugh.
"We've just been blessed," she said.



For better or worse, in sickness and health
But not everything in their 70 years has been easy.
When Bob Morse was 53 he suffered a severe stroke and had to retire. Doctors expected he had perhaps two years left.
"Not very many people have the rug pulled out from under them at 53," his wife said.
But 38 years later, the couple is still together and crossing things off their to-do list.
The couple has RVd, visiting every state in the U.S. They have also taken several trips overseas, including to England, Israel and Spain.
"The travel bug," Ann Morse said, gesturing toward her husband.
Bob Morse's favorite trip was England; she liked Israel. But history is everywhere, which makes all their trips special, they said. The couple has also taken cruises, though after Bob Morse fell on the last two, they have given up cruising.
"I think we're ready to stay home," Bob Morse said.
"For a little while," Ann Morse added.
Now the couple enjoys spending time with their family and volunteering at Steel Lake Church, where they have attended for 55 years. Bob Morse was an elder for nine years and Ann Morse was a deacon for six.
Bob Morse's brain hasn't fully recovered from his stroke. Sometimes his yes means no, hot means cold and freezer means the furnace, his wife said.
"[But] I'm just thankful to have him," she added. "I can read him like a book."


The later years
Though their family doesn't like them to say it, Ann and Bob Morse, ages 86 and 89, are waiting for the end, she said.
"The sad part now is that we've lost so many good friends," she said.
The group of six from the USO dance in 1944 remained close friends.
"[But] lots of them died," Bob Morse noted.
"I'm the only lady left out of the six," she added.
But 135 people still recently turned out to help them celebrate their 70th anniversary. Neighbors, church members, old co-workers and school mates all attended a party the couple's sons organized to honor their parents.
The couple said they have had their share of struggles, including the regular battle Ann Morse waged against her husband's Navy dress whites.
Sometimes money was tight and they had to get creative with material possessions.
The couple used communal bathrooms and washrooms for three years during their marriage.
In addition, Ann Morse said during World War II when everything was rationed, women couldn't get nylons, so they would use paint to make it look like they were wearing them. She wore her nylons — complete with a straight seam with the help of a friend.
But there is nothing the couple would change about their 70 years and there has never been a time when one or both wanted to walk away, Ann Morse said.
"Never a morning goes by where he doesn't say, 'I love you,'" she said.
And the great grandkids, when they are visiting, ask GG Ann if GG Bob said he loved her, just to make sure.


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