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Washington Voices

Quick courtship, long love affair

Diane and Guy Perham have shared a passion for motorcycles and a love of  gardening during their  marriage. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
Diane and Guy Perham have shared a passion for motorcycles and a love of gardening during their marriage. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

Thirty years ago, Guy Perham went to Ichabod’s North to shoot pool with friends and ended up meeting the love of his life. A beautiful barmaid with a warm smile caught his eye. “She was gorgeous,” he recalled. “And she scared me. I wasn’t really outgoing.”

At the urging of his friends, he introduced himself. Diane Perham remembers that first meeting well. “He shook my hand,” she said. “He was so cute and so kind!”

Perham asked her out, and for their first date they saw a Disney movie at the Garland Theater. “We took it slow,” he said, but then added with a grin, “Well, we got married six months later.”

His wife smiled. “It was meant to be. We both know that.” The Perhams’ version of “taking it slow,” extended to their engagement – all seven days of it. They were married at the Coeur d’Amour wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, one week after Perham proposed.

“I never wanted a big wedding – it’s just not my style,” said Diane Perham. So, they wore jeans and T-shirts for the ceremony. When asked the date of the nuptials, Guy rubbed his forehead, his eyes narrowed.

“This is a test!” Diane Perham said, and burst out laughing.

With confidence her husband answered, “July 3.”

“July 3? Really?” Diane Perham chuckled and shook her head in disbelief. To be fair, July 3 is a special day – it’s Diane’s birthday. But the Perhams’ anniversary is July 2.

“I had a 50/50 chance,” Guy said, shrugging. “This is why I’m not a gambler.” And they laughed at his evidently oft repeated error.

Fortunately, for this couple, getting married wasn’t a mistake. In fact, Guy Perham said, “Marrying Diane was the smartest thing I ever did.”

He felt welcomed and accepted by her family, even though he was a self-described motorcycle-riding guy with an afro who wore fatigues. “You know, a little Sly and the Family Stone,” he said.

After the wedding they lived in Spokane Valley. Following the birth of their first daughter, they moved to the Audubon Park area in northwest Spokane, where they raised their family. Diane Perham has worked for the Postal Service for most of their married life. She calls Riverside Station her “happy place.”

Guy Perham became a Spokane Transit Authority bus driver, just like Diane’s father. A second daughter joined the family in 1984. “In our marriage, we worked around each other’s schedules, so we could be with our girls as much as possible,” said Guy Perham.

That devotion to their daughters is amply returned. The four recently took a trip to Belize to celebrate the Perhams’ upcoming 30th anniversary. Daughter Katie calls her parents an “inspiration to me and many others,” and credits them for her personal success and close friendship with her older sister Jessica. The two recently bought a house together.

All the Perhams enjoy motorcycles, and on Diane’s 50th birthday, her husband surprised her with a Harley-Davidson of her own. She shrugged and said, “I was comfortable on the back of his bike.” However, he signed her up for a motorcycle safety course, and now they often hit the road together. A favorite destination is Quinn’s Hot Springs in Montana, along the Clark Fork River.

But married life isn’t always a smooth ride. Both admit they’re stubborn, strong-willed individuals. Diane Perham said, “Getting married is a huge commitment. We work hard to make it work.”

Diane Perham said she worries their daughters will compare potential spouses to their father, and it might be hard to measure up. “It’s the little things that he’ll do,” she said. For instance, “When the roses are in bloom, he’ll cut one rose, wrap it up, and stick it on my steering wheel or motorcycle, so when I leave for work in the morning, it’s there.”

For his part, her husband still seems as smitten as he was when he first set eyes on her at Ichabod’s. “In addition to being beautiful, she has the biggest, kindest heart of anyone I’ve ever met,” he said.

When asked what they are most looking forward to, the Perhams considered their future – when life will have slowed and the Harleys may have to be parked. They fondly recalled their former next door neighbors, an older couple named Nick and Velma. Diane said, “I remember them sitting out on their front porch together. I can see us growing old like that.”

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