After seven decades of marriage, couple says it's "no big story"Few couples are able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, but the Kampshoffs just smile and shrug about the big day.
Few couples are able to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary, but the Kampshoffs just smile and shrug about the big day.
Getting married is “just what you did,” Delores said.
Walt, 95, and Delores, 88, have known each other their whole lives. They grew up in the same small town of Epiphany, and they attended the same Catholic schoolhouse. In their early years, though, they were only acquaintances, as Walt is seven years older.
Walt grew up on a farm a couple of miles outside Epiphany, where he stayed as he got older.
Delores worked with her cousin to help care for an older woman. Delores’ cousin started dating Walt’s brother, and that’s one connection the couple can remember.
“I don’t know how we got together,” Delores said. “We just did. Ours was no big story.”
Walt and Delores got married on Feb. 16, 1942 — a Tuesday morning, Delores recalled.
“Just when war time started,” Walt said.
Walt almost had to serve in the Army. He had a physical in Emery, but the government froze farm labor shortly after, and since Walt was in charge of the farm, he did not have to go.
So, the pair continued their life on the farm Walt got to know so well.
“I lived in the same place for 93 years,” Walt said. “Three miles west, one mile south of Epiphany.”
The Kampshoffs had a full life on those 200 acres.
They have nine children — six girls and three boys. The oldest is 70 and the youngest is 54, and all are still in South Dakota.
Delores said they were fortunate to never have to worry where their next meal was coming from.
“We weren’t poor, but we were a long way from being rich,” Walt said.
They have 30 grandchildren, but one has died. More generations have followed, with great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.
“As far as we know, we’ve got 50 great-grandkids,” Walt said. “The longer we live, the more we’re going to have.”
In January 2010, they left their farm and moved into an apartment in Mitchell. They said the winters started to be too much to handle, and at times it was hard to get out. Walt was quick to say that it wasn’t their first choice to leave the farm he’d been on for more than nine decades.
“The kids moved us,” Walt said. “We didn’t do it.”
In all their years, the couple said they have been blessed with good health.
“We’re healthy in a way,” Delores said. “We’re with walkers and canes, but I guess mentally we’re not too bad.”
Walt has had several health scares, but nothing that he hasn’t fought and defeated. Delores called him “a cat with nine lives.”
He had appendicitis at age 7, and 17 years ago, he battled colon cancer. Last November, he had a heart attack, which was followed by a light stroke. He said he’s made a significant recovery since then.
Both Walt and Delores have some trouble standing up, but other than that, they’re fine, they said. One thing is for sure: their memories are as sharp as ever.
Walt had an old class photo reprinted from when he was a boy at the Catholic schoolhouse.
“I can tell you every one of them in my picture,” Walt said. “Every one of them.”
“Don’t start,” Delores said, followed by a laugh.
In their 70 years together, they have “seen a lot,” and they have watched many friends go. They used to have a group of friends they played cards with, and most have now died.
They’ve had good times and bad times — but mostly good, they said.
“To me, you will get no more out of a marriage than what you’re willing to put into it,” Walt said.
Divorce has simply never been an option.
“We just never thought of it because what would we do?” Delores said. “When you got married, you were married.”
Walt chimed in with a joke.
“Divorce was never mentioned, but murder, yes,” Walt said.
Delores just chuckled and rolled her eyes.
“Oh yeah, we’ve been kind of happy I think,” she said with a smile.