Love Stories: EWU schoolmates married 70 years ago

THURSDAY, FEB. 24, 2011

Andy Anderson vividly remembers his first sight of his future bride, Teddi. Her mother taught at a country school near Ewan, Wash., and each weekday morning she drove past the Anderson ranch with Teddi and her brother in the backseat.

Andy, whose formal first name is Durward, recalled, “She was about 4, and she’d be standing in the back, and her mom would hit the culvert and she and her brother would fall behind the seat!”

Teddi’s mom was usually in a hurry and would forget to slow down for the dip in the road. Eleven-year-old Andy never tired of the spectacle and watched for it from his gate.

Teddi’s first recollection of Andy occurred much later. “I remember dancing with him at a Grange dance,” she said. But Andy was 7 years older and out of her social circle.

That distance closed one summer at the local swimming hole when Andy offered to teach her how to back dive. Teddi had just graduated from high school, and as they dried off, Andy asked her where she planned to attend college.

“I told him Eastern Washington College of Education (now EWU),” Teddi said.

Andy replied, “Well, I’ll see you there.”

He was finishing up his education major at the school. Sure enough, in the fall of 1939, he sought her out at the freshman mixer. “I went looking for her more or less,” recalled Andy, now 95.

When he found her, he asked her to dance. “He was cute and a good dancer,” said Teddi. “He took me home from the dance, but first we had ice cream.”

Though smitten with Andy, Teddi proceeded with caution. She’d heard rumors about his fickleness. “I dated a lot of girls,” Andy admitted. “She was the first one I dated more than two weeks.”

So, Teddi devised a plan. “He had a reputation for dropping girls,” she said. “So, I decided that the first inkling I got that he was going to drop me, I was going to drop him!”

As the weeks went by, Andy’s interest didn’t wane. Instead, when they drove into Spokane from Cheney to see a movie, he parked his Model A Ford by the railroad tracks, an area that is now Riverfront Park. “I asked her to marry me,” he said. Then he grinned. “She didn’t say no.”

Teddi, 17, carefully broached the subject of her impending nuptials with her parents. “I asked them what they’d think if I got married,” she said.

“I’d have it annulled,” replied her mother. “You’re too young.”

However, that response didn’t deter the lovebirds. They obtained a license in Newport and were married in Spokane on Oct. 24, 1940. A minister Andy’s brother knew performed the ceremony in his parsonage. The couple then drove back to the college and resumed school without breathing a word about their marriage.

“I turned 18 in December,” said Teddi. “I called the folks and told them we were married – then we went to see them that weekend.”

They welcomed Andy with open arms, and Teddi now thinks her parents would have been fine with the marriage, “But I didn’t want to risk telling them till I was 18.”

Andy earned his degree in 1941, and soon the military came calling. “I wanted to be a fighter pilot,” he said. Then he clutched his chest. “But they turned me down because of my heart.”

Military doctors discovered that the athletic young man’s heartbeat didn’t slow down fast enough following exercise. “I really wanted to be a teacher, anyway,” he said.

His bride was pleased, because that same year, 1943, a daughter joined the family, followed by a son in 1945 and another daughter in 1951.

Andy’s first teaching assignment took them back to his hometown of Ewan. Despite their growing family, the couple still made time to dance and won several competitions. Andy grinned and said, “She followed well.”

His teaching career took him to towns across Washington and into Oregon. He was often teacher, principal, coach and bus driver, but the family relished small-town living.

When he was asked to interview for a job in Spokane, he was too busy, so he sent Teddi on his behalf. “She came home with the contract,” he said and grinned.

They finally settled in Spokane where Andy taught at Jefferson Elementary School for 17 years, before retiring in 1974.

But the couple didn’t settle into matching recliners; instead they became USA Track and Field officials, which inspired Andy to launch a career as a USATF Masters Athlete. At 81 he was named the 1996 Masters Athlete of the Year at the Inland Northwest Track and Field championships.

He’s won numerous medals for his accomplishments in shot put, hammer throw and javelin events. “I don’t work out,” he said. “But I’m always in shape – I don’t know why.”

He demonstrated his fitness by jogging briskly in place in his South Hill living room. “Five years from now, I’ll compete again – I’ll be 100,” he said.

When not officiating at track and field events, they enjoy travel. “In 1999, we spent 10 days in Paris with a grandson,” Teddi said. “I never dreamed I’d see the Mona Lisa.”

They laughed often while discussing the secrets to their happy 70-year union. Andy said they’ve always liked each other and resolved conflicts quickly. When asked about her plans to break up with Andy if he ever showed signs of leaving, Teddi smiled and said, “He never acted like he wanted to ditch me, so I never got around it.”

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