Whoever said, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure,” should meet Chuck and Ruth Hensley of Spokane.
The couple met at Downriver Golf Course and married a week later. They celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary in June.
“She might still like me,” said Chuck.
In 1973, Ruth, a divorced mother of four, took up golf. Chuck, a divorced father of two, was an avid golfer.
“There was a Friday night couple’s tournament at Downriver Golf Course,” Ruth recalled. “But I wasn’t part of a couple anymore.”
When Chuck pulled into the parking lot, a mutual friend had the perfect solution.
“I was just going to buy some golf balls, but Walt waved me over and asked me to play,” said Chuck. “I asked which one he wanted me to play with, and he pointed to Ruth.”
Chuck liked what he saw and grabbed his clubs from the car.
“The first thing he asked me was ‘can you cook?’ ” said Ruth.
She told him she was no gourmet but enjoyed cooking simple things like roast beef and mashed potatoes.
That was all it took for Chuck.
“I was hungry,” he said.
In their home adjacent to the seventh green at Downriver, Ruth grinned.
“He’s always hungry.”
They played well together and chatted throughout the evening. Chuck got her number before they left. He called her early the next morning, before his tee time.
“Neither one of us wanted to get married again,” Ruth said. “But we were so compatible.”
They saw each other every day that week, even though Chuck worked long hours as a truck driver for URM.
When Friday rolled along, Chuck knew what he wanted.
“Don’t you think we ought to get married?” he asked.
“When?” replied Ruth.
“I don’t have to work tomorrow,” Chuck said.
So, on Saturday, they drove to the Hitching Post in Coeur d’Alene. They stopped at Ruth’s sister’s home on the way. When Ruth told her they were getting married, her sister tried to talk her out of it. Then she tried to stall the nuptials by inviting them to dinner. All to no avail.
On June 9, 1973, the couple married. Ruth was 32, Chuck, 38.
“He was just so down to earth,” Ruth said. “I knew what his goals were – family was important to him.”
“I was tired of running around. I wanted a home.”
They took a honeymoon to Canada the following month. The trip didn’t get off to a romantic start.
“We bought a bag of Bing cherries on the way and ate the whole thing,” Ruth said.
Suffice it to say they spent more time in the bathroom than the bedroom that night. But the next day both felt well enough to golf.
“Of course, we had our clubs,” Chuck said.
They blended their families and in 1977, found the perfect home near the golf course. That’s not to say there weren’t bumps along the way.
In 1981, while visiting a friend, Ruth collapsed, stricken by a brain aneurism.
“The fire department saved her life,” Chuck said.
Ruth, then 41, spent three months in the hospital and rehab. The aneurism left her paralyzed on her left side, and she had to relearn how to walk.
“We lived through it,” she said. “We got on with life and back to golf.”
They had other hobbies besides golf. Chuck was an avid car enthusiast, buying and rebuilding cars. For many years they were part of a local car club. That’s when Ruth added drag-racer to her resume.
“I loved to go fast,” she said.
Chuck said if they had a Powder Puff race, she should enter.
“Powder Puff? No way. I wanted to race the guys.”
So, one night at Spokane Raceway Park, she got behind the wheel of Chuck’s souped-up 1940 Chevy coupe.
“She came in second,” Chuck said.
When he retired in 1996, the couple began spending a month in Yuma, Arizona, or Laughlin, Nevada. Their 19 grandchildren kept them busy, and now they’ve added great-grandchildren.
They’ve also experienced sorrow, as each has lost an adult child – he a daughter, she a son.
“We got through it because we had each other,” Ruth said.
Health issues finally forced Ruth, 81, to pack her clubs away.
“This is the first year I haven’t golfed,” she said.
But Chuck plays once or twice a week.
“I’m still competitive,” he said. “I’m 87 going on 40.”
Ruth said the key to their happy marriage is simple.
“We respect each other,” she said. “I know I can depend on him, no matter what.”
“What goes around comes around. Treat people like you want to be treated,” he said. “Marriage is give and take, but always give more.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.