Bill and Sue Lark met for the first time outside of the laundromat in Stewartville in 1968. Sue’s sister had moved out and Sue was spending so much time on the phone with her that their mom asked her to cut back so the phone bill wouldn’t continue to be so high. Rather than calling her sister from home, Sue stopped into the laundromat to call her instead. When she came outside, a friend of hers called her over to his car to introduce her to his friend, who happened to be Bill, and insisted that the two go see a movie together that evening. Sue had never met Bill before and politely turned the invitation down several times before finally caving. That evening, Bill picked her up and they went to see MASH at the theater. “That was the start of our 19-day relationship before we were married,” Sue said, smiling.
Twelve days after that movie date, Bill proposed, and Sue said yes. They decided to set their wedding date for the following Friday. When asked what made Bill decide to propose so quickly, he had a quick reply. “Why not?” he said. They both knew from the moment they met that they were meant to be and so neither he nor Sue saw the point in waiting.
The Monday before their wedding, Bill and Sue went shopping for rings and then stopped in to see Sue’s mom at work, who didn’t know about their engagement yet. When Sue told her that they were planning to get married on Friday, her mom was shocked to say the least. “She said, ‘I’ll talk to you when I get home, young lady,’” Sue laughed.
Bill and Sue spent the next few days trying to find a minister who would perform the wedding. They went to the pastor of her church first and were turned down because he didn’t feel they had known each other long enough. Thankfully, Bill’s pastor agreed to marry them, albeit reluctantly. For years after that, the Larks sent him a Christmas card each year to let him know that they were still married.
The wedding took place that Friday, April 5, 1968, at Bill’s parents’ mobile home. It was small, with just one attendant for each plus both sets of parents. Bill’s parents didn’t have much to say about the wedding. “I don’t think they even had time to think about it,” Bill commented. The wedding outfits were practical, with Bill and his best man both wearing black suits, and Sue and her maid of honor wearing dark blue dresses. “We looked more like we had just come from a funeral than we had just attended a wedding,” Sue said. After the wedding, Sue’s parents treated everyone to dinner at a local restaurant.
The newlyweds moved into a rented house in Spring Valley which they furnished with used furniture. Over the next 45-plus years of their marriage, they moved around frequently within the southeast Minnesota area, and even spent some time living in Arizona. They have now settled in Harmony and have lived there for the past nine years. “We’ve nested here,” Sue said. No matter where they were, they’ve always spent a lot of their time together. During their time in Arizona, Bill once went on a three-day fishing trip with some of their nephews, leaving Sue home alone. “I just wandered around like a little lost soul,” Sue laughed.
“We just get along fantastic. We do everything together,” Sue said. “I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have him around.” Bill agreed with matching sentiments. In nearly 51 years of marriage, they estimate that they’ve had less than five real arguments. “We just don’t argue. We get along well,” Bill said.
Thanks to appendicitis at the age of 12 that was misdiagnosed as the flu, Sue was unable to have children. While that has been the hardest challenge of their marriage, Bill and Sue have made the best of it. They have always taken great pride in the dogs they’ve owned throughout their marriage who have given them an outlet for their nurturing spirits. Currently, Tuffy and Precious keep them on their toes.
In addition to their dogs, Bill and Sue have also been blessed to be able to take two boys under their wing. Derek was only 11 when his father passed away, and his mom was looking for someone to be a big brother figure to him when a co-worker who knew the Larks suggested Bill. Bill took Derek fishing and hunting on weekends, and he also spent a lot of time with both Bill and Sue. “We told Derek that most little boys are lucky enough to get a dog,” Sue said. “Our dog was lucky enough to get a little boy.”
A little boy who lived across the street from the Larks in Stewartville also caught their eye. Two-year-old Ben would sit outside on his front step all day every Saturday, and Sue finally told Bill to go over and ask him what he was doing. When the little boy told them that he was waiting for his daddy to come take him fishing, the Larks stepped up and took him fishing instead. “We put our arm around him and brought him into the Lark clan,” Sue said. Derek and Ben may be grown up now with families of their own, but they still stay in touch with the Larks and consider them to be bonus grandparents to their own children. “We weren’t the parents, but we’re sure proud of the turn-out,” Sue smiled. “For them to take the time to stop in and see the old folks, that’s pretty good. It’s an honor for Bill and I.” In between visits from their “grandchildren,” Bill and Sue enjoy spoiling the kids at the church they attend.
As they approach their 51st anniversary, Bill and Sue are clear about where the credit for their marriage goes. “God’s always been in our marriage, and I think that’s why we get along so good,” Sue said, as Bill nodded. “Whatever comes up as a trial in our life, we let God handle it for us. If you have the Lord in your life, you have a peace and a calm.”