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Going 65 and beyond

Richard and Joyce Ziegenfuss look back at a long life together as the couple celebrates its 65th wed

Posted: August 13, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Richard and Joyce Ziegenfuss exit a limousine as they attend their 65th anniversary luncheon held at Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company in Valencia on Saturday. Richard and Joyce Ziegenfuss exit a limousine as they attend their 65th anniversary luncheon held at Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company in Valencia on Saturday.
Richard and Joyce Ziegenfuss exit a limousine as they attend their 65th anniversary luncheon held at Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Company in Valencia on Saturday.

Richard and Joyce Ziegenfuss, of Saugus, recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary with family and friends at Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co. in Valencia.

Given it was their 65th anniversary, and that Richard has always been involved with automobiles, you can forgive the comparison to going more than 65 mph — especially since the couple continues keep the pedal pressed down. While they may not have lived life in the fast lane they have covered a lot of miles together, both literally and figuratively, and have, at times, driven each other crazy. But they got over it.

“You don’t sweat the small stuff,” Joyce says. “The big things you can work out. The small things are what get you in trouble. Just get on with today. Like my mother used to say, ‘Who is going to care in 100 years?’”

Who is driving and who is riding shotgun in this marriage might be open to interpretation, but it would seem Joyce is the driver, because Richard quipped that his method for a happy marriage is to “make like you’re deaf.”

All kidding aside, the Ziegenfuss’ have found a way to travel life’s long highway together and to have fun doing it.

All in the family

Richard, 86, grew up in Marlow, Okla., where Joyce (80 next month) also had family members. The fact is, the two are third cousins. Beyond that, Richard’s older brother later married Joyce’s mother.

“You can’t badmouth the relatives because they belong to you both,” Richard notes.

Joyce grew up in Inglewood. But, when she was 9, her family took a trip to Marlow, where she met Richard, then 15.

“I thought he was the cutest thing I’d ever seen,” she says.

Off to sea and back

Richard worked at a rock crushing plant until he was drafted into the Navy in 1943. He spent two years in the Navy on a landing craft support ship. His crew manned a 40 mm antiaircraft gun with the primary purpose of shooting down kamikazes. However, Richard was also the ship’s baker.

“My mom taught me about cooking,” he says.

When he got out of the service in 1946, the two again met at a family get together in Sun Valley, where Joyce then lived.

“His eyes lit up when he saw me because I’d grown up,” Joyce says.

As they put it, “One thing led to another,” and they had their first date in Venice that year. (Friends took them back to Venice to celebrate their
2011 anniversary.)

The couple’s dating was mostly at the former Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank on San Fernando Road, which naturally involved cars and cruising.

Joyce and Richard married in Las Vegas in 1947, as she was only 15 and he was 21. “My mother had to sign that I was 16,” Joyce says. But the marriage was then legal in California.

Working through

The couple began having children right away (three daughters, eventually), and Joyce became a homemaker. At first, Richard worked with his brother in an automotive shop. Always trying to improve his situation, he then worked for Southern California Gas in Van Nuys for about six years. “I was running a 15-man crew. I did field maps that they made blueprints from for housing tracts,” he says.

After a very brief attempt at pumping gas, Joyce’s first job was working for J.C. Penney in San Fernando in 1951.

The couple moved to Saugus in 1960 and, with the help of his veteran status, bought a home for $14,700. “Nothing down and only $99 a month,” Richard says proudly. They bought their current Saugus home in 1980.

Joyce worked as an inspector for Electrol from 1960 until 1982, when the company moved. In 1984, she went to work for local chiropractor Dr. Rodney Cummings. “It was the best job I ever had. I loved the people,” she says. She retired from that in 1995.

Richard went back into the automotive repair business for General Motors during the early 1960s and then, later, Ford sent him to automatic transmission school. His knowledge and his willingness to help everyone made him quite popular. And through all these years he was always “improving” his own automobiles, which sometimes got them into jams with other car enthusiasts and police.

Eventually, Richard went to work for Newhall-Valencia Plumbing, where he retired at age 70.

In addition to cars, the couple’s hobbies included camping and waterskiing, sometimes with groups as large as 80. “I taught half the kids in Newhall to water-ski,” he says.

“And he worked on their cars,” Joyce notes.

These days

With nine grandchildren, 15 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, the Ziegenfuss’ obviously have a large family. However, two of their daughters now live in Oklahoma, and one in the state of Washington. Even so, the couple thinks they will stay right where they are, as they have all their connections and a lot of friends here in town.

They are both members of the Questers club, involved with the collection, preservation and restoration of antiques (He’s the gofer,” Joyce says), and they are both docents at Heritage Junction.

Party on

At their anniversary party at Wolf Creek, the Ziegenfuss arrived in a limousine, and during the party their daughters took turns honoring them, including noting how they were a testament to making a marriage work.

Joyce wasn’t so sure about that honor. “We started young and kind of grew on each other,” she said. “We never had any thought of leaving each other, and we never thought about making it 65 years. We understood each other and if we got out of line, we worked it out.”

“It’s less expensive to keep them (wives) than to get rid of them,” Richard teased.

And Joyce added one final tip on making a marriage work. “You don’t always have to tell the whole truth. There are shades of gray,” she says.

You’ve got to love these two.


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