It’s been said love is a many-splendored thing. While reality shows love often has its up and downs, many people still get the chance to spend life with someone they love. Four area couples sat down with reporters to share how they met, how they fell in love and what keeps them going to make their relationship work over the years. From young to old, each couple has persevered to keep the romance in their life.
Rotten introduction turns blissful
While Julie and Loren Keele had a less than romantic first meeting, the couple’s relationship has withstood a lot of life’s challenges over the 35 years they have been married.
When Julie Keele was around 10-years-old, she was out with some friends when a group of boys started throwing rotten apples at them. Her future husband was a part of that group.
“We didn’t know it was each other until we had been married and he was telling this story,” Julie Keele said.
The couple crossed paths again in March 1982 when Julie was 16 and Loren was 18. Loren walked to Julie’s house with two cases of beer and asked about a party a mutual friend was having.
“He just comes walking up and said ‘Is this where the party is?,’” Julie Keele said. “I had no idea that a mutual friend of ours had said they were going to come to my house.”
That night the couple got to know each other more and started to form a strong bond, especially when he saw pictures of Julie Keele’s daughter, Susan, who was not yet a year old. It was after that party, Loren Keele knew he had met the love of his life.
“The easiest way (to describe how I felt) is it gave me a reason to grow up,” Loren Keele said. “I just thought to myself ‘Wow, I’m going to marry that girl.’”
The couple embarked on a whirlwind romance, marrying in August 1982. While they say to be in love is like feeling “on top of the world” they have overcome many challenges in their marriage from job losses, making ends meet, and the struggles and stress of raising five children. The couple have also struggled through medical issues and lost their house in Ironton last July to an F-1 tornado.
In getting through challenges, the couple looks at each other and ensures everything will be okay, while doing everything they can to make their marriage work.
“Everybody says communication is key,” Julie Keele said “But you can’t throw in the towel like a lot of young kids do these days… don’t just give up on your marriage that easy.”
An example was when Julie was suffering from vestibular migraines; her husband stepped in to help his wife. Julie does the same thing when her husband is having a challenging day with trigeminal neuralgia.
“It’s a give and take, sometimes one person gives way more than the other,” Julie Keele said. “We do that because we love each other and we haven’t stopped.”
Their daughters, Tabitha Dahn and Christian Keele, called their parents’ marriage inspiring.
“You can tell that they love each other,” Christian Keele said. “As a kid you’re like eww but then as you get older you really appreciate that you can see that your mom and dad love each other.”
Teen parents make it last
Life and love came at Stevvie-Lyn May and Jesse Leeseberg fast. “We’ve been together since July of 2009,” May said. “So pretty much high school sweethearts.”
The couple, who live in Mauston, began dating after a mutual friend set them up in high school. May and Leeseburg got pregnant with their first child before graduating. “We had to grow up fast,” May said. “Being teen parents is stressful.”
Although it was difficult at times, May and Leeseberg don’t regret starting their family early. “I wouldn’t trade my kids for the world… I’m glad I had my kids young,” May said. They currently have a six year old girl and a two year old boy.
Leeseberg works at North Central Paving in Lyndon Station. Until recently, May worked at Tailor Made in Elroy but is currently taking time to focus on the family. “We just kind of find a way to make it work,” May said.
Leeseberg enjoys taking the kids out fishing, and doing “anything outdoors.”
Being a young couple with children has enabled them to a wide age range of friends who are at very different life stages. Some friends are closer to their age and have yet to start their families, while others are a bit older, but whose day-to-day lives, filled with parental duties, resemble May and Leeseberg’s.
Meeting each other may have put them on the path to a brighter future. “We got into a lot of trouble when we were younger,” May said. “We kind of saved each other from a lifetime of regret I guess.”
Although neither of them regrets getting pregnant in high school, May and Leeseberg both wish they’d finished school. “It’s pretty hard to find a job without having a high school diploma,” Leeseberg said.
“Neither one of us graduated and I regret it,” May said.
The couple said they would advise any pregnant high school couple to finish school. May also said while the situation may seem daunting, it isn’t impossible. “It’s scary but you just got to be honest and faithful,” May said. “Don’t let little things bother you.” Leeseberg said it is best to “take it one day at a time.”
Both May and Leeseberg feel that having kids has made their relationship better and little things don’t bother them as much anymore.
The couple is optimistic about the future. They hope to buy a house out in the country someday, which would most likely be in the area. “We’ll probably be around here for the rest of our lives,” May said. “We’re here to stay.”
High school sweethearts still together
It was the 1980s, but Dawn Whitney and Greg Rasque needed a chaperone. Dawn’s father was strict. Dawn’s brother, Kevin Whitney, agreed to the task. Not only was Kevin Dawn’s brother, he was also Greg’s best friend.
It had been a year since they started dating, and Dawn Whitney was finally going to let her boyfriend kiss her. Being the good friend Kevin was to Greg, he agreed to drive around the block to give the high school sweethearts privacy and a chance for Greg to steal a kiss. He drove around once, and Dawn’s brother shouted from the car window, “Did you do it yet?” to Greg. He hadn’t. Nor the second time Dawn’s brother drove around or the third. Finally, on his fourth trip around the block, Greg had done it. He had kissed his girlfriend for the first time.
“It probably wasn’t very romantic,” Dawn Whitney, now Dawn Rasque, said. “I don’t know how he kept dating me when I wouldn’t let him kiss me for a year. But I was only 15.”
Now married 25 years, the couple, who live just outside of Spring Green in the Blackhawk area, both attended high school in Prairie du Chien. Greg graduated in 1987 and Dawn graduated one year later. They were familiar with one another through Greg and Kevin’s boyhood friendship. They were also both involved in track.
“I thought he was a good runner,” Dawn Rasque said. “I remember watching him run. And he was funny, always telling jokes.”
“She was just so damn cute,” Greg Rasque said.
It was a while, though, before Greg Rasque started connecting the dots. They’d known each other for years, having spent time in the same circles at church and school. Plus, there was the fact Dawn was his best friend’s sister.
“Yeah, I was a little slow on the uptake with that,” Greg Rasque said. “I was like, ‘Oh, she likes me?’”
Their first date happened the night of the Prairie du Chien High School prom in 1987. But Greg didn’t take her to the prom. Their first date was spent talking for hours in the garage at Dawn’s house.
“He couldn’t go to prom because he had a wedding to go to he previously committed to,” Dawn said. “It was funny. He came to the door and my dad answered. He thought Greg was there for my brother. After a few moments he realized he was actually there for me.”
Fast forward to 1992, Greg was working as a farmer while Dawn was in her senior year at UW-Platteville where she was studying elementary education. They were engaged, but Dawn was still living in the dorms when they got married. They wouldn’t actually live together until several months later.
“My parents were in the middle of getting a divorce and Greg became my rock,” Dawn said. “He was someone to talk to.”
“She was someone I could have an in-depth conversation with,” Greg said.
The two bonded over sports, church functions and really anything they could do be together.
She visited the farm he worked at so frequently Greg’s boss started paying her to help milk cows.
The couple always spent a lot of time doing things together, and that hasn’t changed. Although they now have three grown children, two sons and a daughter,they have always made time to be together, whether riding a motorcycle, hiking, riding in go-karts or horseback riding.
Dawn said one of the reasons their marriage works is because they genuinely like each other and have a strong foundation.
“We’ve had our ups and downs like everyone else,” she said. “But we always struck through it, and are always on the same page. We do things separately but mostly we do things together.”
“It’s hard to describe … it’s like I can come home from a hard day at work and tell her and she listens,” Greg said.
There’s the girl I’m going to mary
In 1953, Mary was waitressing at Wenk’s, a bar, restaurant and bowling alley in downtown Dells and Vearn was having a beer with his boss.
“She came with a bar order on the other side of the bar and I looked at her and said to my boss, there’s the girl I’m going to marry,” Vearn Golz said.
A couple of weeks later, Vearn asked Mary out and they’ve been together since. They dated for two years and got engaged during Mary’s senior year at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. They married Oct. 15, 1955.
They moved into the house they still live in on Bowman Road in 1957.
“We had a baby boy and it was cold in our apartment, and so we thought we needed to look for something,” Mary Golz said.
It was there they raised their four children, Wayne, Teresa, Cathy and Susan. The pair have 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Vearn Golz said they like to do everything together, but one of their favorite activities is watching the children participate in sports.
“From grade school to high school to college, we’ve followed the family,” Mary Golz said.
“They don’t miss anything,” said daughter Susan Golz. “They are just there for their family, always.”
Susan Golz said her mother still makes everything for Christmas dinner including the roast, salads and four kinds of homemade cookies.
Growing up, she said her and her siblings believed in Santa Claus for forever. Her dad would lock the house and the whole family would go look at Christmas lights by St. Cecilia Catholic Church. When they returned, Santa had come.
Her parents had a neighbor sneak the presents in while the family was out, which was a secret they found out as adults.
The couple said they’ve made a point of celebrating all of the holidays with each other, to each other.
Vearn Golz said Mary has been and is a great mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. He said he likes her looks, personality and patience with him.
Mary said she likes how tall and kind Vearn is, and how he keeps busy with puzzles, crosswords and watching television.
“We try to eat healthy, get some exercise, keep up-to-date with what’s going on in the world, not that we always agree with it,” she said. “Be kind.”
Susan Golz said when her mom walks into the kitchen, she still kisses her dad on her way by.
“We still say thanks, no thanks, I love you, when a lot of couples forget those words,” Vearn Golz said.
“They just have this love for each other,” Susan Golz said.
Vearn said all of their children are hard workers, which he thinks they adopted from their parents.
“When you grow up in Wisconsin Dells, you start working early,” Susan Golz said. “You start babysitting, then you work at the attractions or the stores.”
The Madison LPN said her and her siblings worked all summer and during the school year.
Susan Golz said she’s inspired by the time and care her parents take for the family, the community and church.
The couple belongs to St. Cecilia’s and Vearn has been an usher there for about 40 years, Mary Golz said.
“They get up and they go to church without fail,” Susan Golz said.
“I think it’s very important in a relationship to have faith,” Mary Golz said. “It gives us a direction.”