PORT TOWNSEND — In the coming week, Lovie and Bob McCollum can celebrate the 69th or the 17th anniversary of their wedding, or both.
Lovie, who’s 86, and Bob, who’s 90, have been married more than once to other people and to each other.
Their daughter, Pam Clise of Port Townsend patiently explained this to the Peninsula Daily News. Neither of her parents was available for this story.
Bob McCollum and Lovie Pritchard were married Dec. 21, 1941, just three weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
She was 17 and still at Huntington Park High School in Los Angeles County, Calif.; he was 20, and they were madly in love.
Their friend Bob Copeland set them up on their first, and blind, date in 1940.
“It was a love-at-first-sight kind of thing,” said Clise, who writes a monthly column for the PDN on Jefferson County history.
They eloped to Las Vegas for a double wedding with Bob Copeland and his bride, Ilene.
Within a year of their marriage, Bob McCollum was drafted into the Army Air Transport Command. When he left, Lovie was pregnant with their first child.
Bob was able to see his daughter, Penny, for only one day before he left home again from his overseas military service, which lasted 3 ½ years.
The McCollums had their second daughter, Pam, before divorcing in 1946.
Both Bob and Lovie remarried, and Lovie had two more sons with her second husband. Bob raised a stepson in his second marriage, which ended in divorce.
Lovie was widowed, then married again and was widowed a second time. By then, it was the early 1990s, and she and Bob decided to reacquaint themselves.
“Dad called my sister and me and asked us if he thought Mom would go out to dinner with him sometime, so they could get to know each other again after so many years of separation,” Clise said.
Bob worried, though, that they might not have anything in common anymore. His daughters suggested that he just call her and find out.
“The next thing we knew, they had taken a trip to San Diego together, miles away from where they both were living in two different states,” Clise said.
Her father was in Los Angeles at the time, while her mother was in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
“The second romance was as speedy as the first,” she added, “with two lifetimes of experience between them this time.”
The McCollums were married again Dec. 18, 1993, with all five of their collective children present. They also have two grandsons and two great-grandsons.
“When the minister asked who was to ‘give the hand of this woman in marriage,’ all five children stood up together and said, ‘We do — and it’s about time,’ surprising everyone,” Clise said.
Fifty-two years had passed between their marriages to each other, and Bob wasn’t about to dawdle on the reunion.
Clise remembers him saying, just before wedding No. 2, “I figure we either have one day or 50 ahead of us. But we started together, and we’re going to finish together.”
In 2000, the couple moved to Port Townsend to be close to Clise, who with her husband, John, owned Aldrich’s Market uptown.
They have since sold the business, and Clise is enjoying retirement.
Lovie is growing frail these days, her daughter said, and the McCollums aren’t making a big fuss over their double anniversary.
Her father, a fiddle player, will go to the Sequim Prairie Grange Hall on Saturday afternoon to play in the local chapter of the Washington Old Time Fiddlers’ monthly jam session and performance.
Clise, for her part, is happy to see her folks sharing life.
“Sixty-nine years after the first marriage,” she noted, “they are still taking care of each other with love, care and laughter in their hearts.”
________Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3550 or at [email protected]