Fairfield Ledger
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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 22, 2017

Norbert and Marie Hammes still going strong after 77 years of matrimony

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Sep 15, 2017
Courtesy of: JASON MAJOR Norbert and Marie Hammes at Marie’s 98th birthday party Sunday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.

“I’m just a little peon. I keep asking him what do you want me to do,” Marie Hammes mused about her longevity and God’s plan for her life.

The spry 98-year-old recently enjoyed a huge birthday party surrounded by her family, friends and her 104-year-old husband of 77 years, Norbert.

“It’s been an interesting life, that’s for sure,” Hammes said. “We’ve had a lot of different things happen.”

During a recent interview with The Ledger, Marie reminisced about times past, while Norbert quietly sat in his easy chair watching television at their beautifully appointed apartment at SunnyBrook Living Care.

Many who cross their path might assume they are at least 20 years younger.

“She ran past me on her way to breakfast [Wednesday] morning,” SunnyBrook Living Care office manager Gary Roush testified to Marie Hammes’s agility and good health.

Roush listened in during the interview, as Marie shared photos and memories of her and Norbert’s many years together.

The couple met in 1938, and have been by each other’s side ever since.

“He took me home from a dance,” Marie recalled.

Norbert and Marie married two years later and raised their seven children, Barb, Jim, Rose, Carol, John, Mary and Steve, in Fairfield.

“We moved to Fairfield 70 years ago,” Marie said, adding that she is originally from Keota, and Norbert is from Sigourney.

“Jack Hesseltine helped us move here,” she said.

The couple raised their family in Fairfield, and Norbert built them a home on Brookville Road.

“He was a farmer and a carpenter,” Marie said of Norbert. “But his father was a builder, in fact, one of his brick homes was on the Iowa State map. It’s right off [Interstate] 92. It’s a beautiful brick home.”

Norbert and Marie’s children graduated from Fairfield High School.

Marie pointed to pictures inside a large wall frame, which featured everything from family snap shots of all their children, grands and great-grands, to her and Norbert’s wedding photo.

“We’ve got 24 or 26 grand children, and 36 great-grands,” she said. “It’s 18 boys and 18 girls!”

Marie said that she and Norbert lost one of their grandchildren during her youth.

“She was only 14 and a freshman in high school,” she said.

Marie said throughout the years, the couple has experienced a lot of life, and had seen a great deal happen.

She shared a story of an odd hailstorm that occurred more than 50 years ago. She pulled out a neatly preserved, clear black and white picture of a bag overflowing with softball sized hail. The back of the photo still had the perfectly penned time and date of when the storm occurred, which was between 1:30-2:10 p.m. in 1964.

Marie didn’t let all of that ice go to waste. She used it to keep five half gallon cartons of ice cream cold.

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