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Looking back on a lifetime of love

Lester and Millie Tanner celebrate 60 years of marriage

Posted: January 10, 2010 10:19 p.m.
Updated: January 11, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Lester and Millie Tanner on their wedding day, Sept. 3, 1949.

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A lifetime of memories met the party of a lifetime when Lester and Millie Tanner recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.

Set amidst the luscious garden surroundings of their quaint Newhall home, the couple welcomed a bounty of family and friends to join them in marking their milestone occasion, more than half a century in the making.

"It's so wonderful to look around and see the faces of everyone we know and love," said Millie Tanner.

Still the blushing bride, Millie reached over and took the hand of long-time hubby, Lester, who put on a party face of his own.

"When I think about 60 years together, it doesn't feel like that at all," said Lester Tanner. "The time just flew by and it still does."

Perched atop high sling-back chairs placed in the center of festivities, the couple remained at each other's side just as they have done since the day of their wedding on Sept. 3, 1949.

Guests gathered around the dynamic duo to offer well wishes and fond memories, including some special ones from members of the original wedding party.

Millie's sister and matron of honor, Maxine Gallagher, remembers the big day like it was yesterday.

"Their wedding was beautiful, just as they are," Gallagher said. "There are not enough adjectives to describe these two and what they have created over the years. I love that I've been there to see it since the beginning of their courtship."

The pair courted with ease after meeting at a dance at Porterville Community College, where Lester attended classes in 1946.
Millie knows how one twirl on the dance floor can change a life forever.

"I was just 18 years old and I remember him coming over to ask me to dance," Millie said. "I said yes and then never went with anyone else. It was just right."

The first dance was one of many the couple would come to enjoy as they made moves into their future together.

After a two-and-a-half year engagement, the couple married in Lester's hometown of Terrabella in the presence of their nearest and dearest friends and family.

Following their march down the isle, the newly-weds began to march toward their goals, one stride at a time.

The couple bought a home in Porterville and Lester continued in school, having plans for higher education and active duty.

No stranger to service after engaging with the Army, Navy and Air Force during World War II, Lester joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and was commissioned as first lieutenant, getting stationed in Hammer Field during the Korean War.

But service in one field brought Lester closer to serving the field of education when he obtained a doctorate in Elementary Education in 1952.

"That's when we started our family," said Millie. "It was the next step and we were ready to take it."

The Tanner family expanded to include daughter, Becky, as well as son, David, while living in Bakersfield over the course of a decade. The Tanner's moved west to Newhall in 1963, where plans to build their new home were next on the agenda.

The couple remembered when onion fields stretched for miles and the terrain bared the likeness of expansive western plains.

"We liked the town and knew it was where we wanted to be to raise our family," said Millie.

After constructing their home, the Tanners added one more addition to the family upon adopting their third child, Stacey in 1970.
One member of the Tanner clan knows why values within the family unit are what she values most.

"I was brought up with a strong foundation of guidance and faith," said daughter Becky. "I think about how they raised me every day and I try to model myself after them and raise my own children in the same fashion. My parents are a true blessing in my life."

Becky's brother David shared the sentiment.

"Both my mother and father showed me how to strive to be a good role model and an involved representative of the community," said David Tanner.

A prominent dentist in the community, Tanner followed the footsteps of his philanthropic parents and became an active affiliate of many local nonprofits.

"Watching my parents over the years, it helped show me that getting involved is important. They continue to uphold such amazing values and I am inspired by them every day," he said.

Setting a positive example came through the avenue of education for Lester Tanner.

Over the course of an extensive career in administration, Tanner assumed the position of Newhall School District Principal at Peachland, Old Orchard and Newhall Elementary.

A leader in education and innovator within school district initiatives, Tanner left his mark as a memorable educator before retiring in 1988.

But guests knew that the couple had more than one way of making a lasting impression.

Some dear friends were present to remark on the legacy the pair has created.

"It's so great to see how they are with each other and it's something really special to see the whole family together," said bridesmaid Betty Yates.

Yates was one of four of Millie's bridesmaids at the celebration, who showed up ready to walk down memory lane.

"They have had so many great years together and have given so much love," said bridesmaid Geraldine Winter. "They are just two wonderful people in every way."

But members of the wedding party didn't have to wait 60 years before reuniting with their old friends.

Every year, the Tanners make the effort to join their chums on special trips, social gatherings and weekend jaunts.

"We see each other all the time. It's like an extra family with all of us together," said Marianne Faucher. "I've known Millie since the seventh grade, so it is like having a sister. Our little reunions always mean so much."

Friends, siblings, children and grandchildren alike joined together to celebrate the couple's lifetime of love.

But the milestone touched younger generations in its own way.

"Looking at them, you can see how absolutely perfect they are together," said grandson, Ryan. "I already hold the values of marriage and love to the highest standards. But seeing the happiness that they have with each other reminds me never to settle for anything less."

Guests young and old were regaled in anecdotes from the star couple, who delighted their crowd in some pearls of wisdom that never fade with time.

"We're very lucky," Millie said. "Everyone is here and we're all together. That's always the most important to me."

With more than half a century of love under their belts, the Tanners still know how to keep a relationship forever young.

The big question was popped, "So what's the secret?"

Lester Tanner had his answer.

"Every day is new," said Tanner. "Marriage is something you have to work at by listening to each other carefully and being thoughtful. We both do that all the time and that's why there is always something new to learn together. Respect each other and most importantly, remember to have fun!"

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