It was 1941, a young Charles (Chuck) Heater and his friend were cruising down the Newberg streets in his convertible when he spotted three girls. One of the girls, Emma, took a fancy to Chuck and his spiffy car.
“I was out walking with my friends and I saw these two handsome guys in a convertible,” Emma said. “They stopped to talk and offered to give us a ride home. After that Chuck kept coming around to give me rides.”
This happenstance meeting would lead to dating, engagement and 77 adventurous years of marriage.
Emma and Chuck Heater were married Nov. 13, 1942 and are currently living at Lakeview Senior Living in Lincoln City, where they are celebrated their 77th anniversary today. Emma, 95 soon, and Chuck, 97, have created many memories together, but they still remember their first meeting like it was yesterday.
“We were practically kids at that time,” Chuck said. “She wasn’t quite 18 and I wasn’t quite 20.”
After being engaged for six months, waiting to be old enough to get married, Chuck was summoned into service.
“Uncle Sam was hot on my trail,” Chuck said. “But I didn’t want to go to the Army, so I enlisted in the Navy in 1942.”
But before he was off to boot camp, Emma made it her goal to marry him.
The pair hatched a plan to venture to Vancouver, where they could legally be wed with parental permission, but things didn’t go as planned.
“We got partway there and I forgot my permit from my mother,” Emma said. “We had to go back and we ended up getting married on Friday the 13th.”
Chuck was stationed in Pasco, Wash. for a few months, and then he spent time in San Diego. Back in Newberg, Emma was working at a fruit factory and nurturing their first child. After Emma gave birth, Chuck was able to return home for 10 days to meet his son before he was shipped off to Pearl Harbor, where he remained until he was discharged in 1945.
The distance and unknown was difficult on their new relationship. However, they never lost touch while Chuck was away.
“We wrote letters back and forth everyday,” Emma said. “I wrote everyday and he wrote most days when he was able.”
After returning to Oregon, Chuck and Emma were looking for a place to live and work. And in 1945, that place happened to be Rose Lodge.
“My brother lived out here and the only thing for me to do down here was logging… So I was a logger for 30 years,” Chuck said.
While Chuck worked as a logger, they had another boy and bought a little house that was small and unfinished.
“While he was working in the woods he kept working on our house,” Emma said. “It was a real cute house.”
The couple eventually bought a piece of property at Roads End and Chuck began building another house during his free time, that they would eventually move into and live in for 15 years.
The Heaters then bought a lot on what is now the Chinook Winds Golf Course, and built a house, which they lived in for 35 years.
“We both loved that house because she played golf for nearly 30 years, but I only played seldom… I didn’t have the temperament for it,” Chuck joked.
Throughout the years Emma was involved in the Taft Schools, where both their sons graduated, she was a PT President, on the school board and worked several jobs in town. After they retired, the pair went ‘cruising,’ as Chuck would say.
The Heaters took their first cruise to Panama for their 50th anniversary and have since taken trips to China, Russia, the Cook Islands and more.
“One of my favorites was a trip to Australia and New Zealand with my brother for a month… that was quite the trip,” Chuck said. “We’ve been fortunate and had our share of travels.”
After 77 years of adventures, the Heaters live with no regrets and urge others to do the same.
“Do what you want to do and do everything you possibly can because you’ll have nothing but memories to think about after that,” Emma said. “For these young people, I’d say just hang in there, make it work. Chuck and I have had a really, really wonderful life together.”