My Grandparents have been married for 60 Years, and this past Sunday my Grandpa was asked to MC/Speak at the party. The speech went over very well. Everyone laughed when I had hoped they would (and sometimes when I didn’t expect it) and I got a little emotional at the end… and from what I hear, there weren’t many dry eyes in the audience. Thought I’d post it on here in case anyone wanted to read about my awesome grandparents.
Hello, my name is Jeff Sauer, Grandson of Norb and Lenore, and welcome to our celebration of 60 years of marriage between Lenore and Norby, or as we affectionately call them; Lenorby.
I will be your master of ceremonies for this event, and I hope that you’ll soon find that you are in good hands. Grandpa chose me to host this event because he says I remind him of a young Bob Hope.
I have no idea what that means, but I am taking it as a compliment.
Enough about me. The real reason why we are here is to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Mr. and Mrs. Norbert T Koch.
60 years! 6 – 0. That’s not a typo. 60 years! That is a long time for two people to be together. In fact, this type of longevity is almost unheard of in modern times. This is a testament to their long lasting love and devotion.
To see how they made it this far, let me give you some insight into how things came to be.
Norbert Thomas Koch and Mary Lenore Leroux had modest upbringings. Norb grew up in North Minneapolis, back in a time where it was safe to drive through the neighborhood with your windows down. Lenore grew up in the town of Hamel, on a farm that is now a high school and a housing development.
Due to some unfortunate turns in life, Norb was tasked with helping to prove for his family from an early age. In order to make ends meet, he had to make money in whatever way he could, including selling newspapers and shoveling sidewalks. One can only assume that working at such an early age instilled him with a great work ethic, and the drive necessary to achieve his own financial independence.
Lenore was a farm girl, and still has the green thumb to prove it. Over the years I have heard many great stories about Grandma’s days on the farm, but I think my favorite is the story about when she took the truck for a spin with her sister Jeanette when grandma wasn’t yet a teenager.
When the time came, Norb served our country and defended the free world in the Second World War. He was stationed in the Pacific and had one of the most dangerous positions in the entire Air Force. Fortunately, he survived without a scratch and made it back stateside a true hero, armed with an arsenal of ambition and some great bedtime stories for his grandchildren.
Upon arrival back to the states, Grandpa enrolled in college at the University of Minnesota, where he played baseball while completing his college degree. It was through baseball that Norb fatefully met Lenore, and it was through persistence that Grandma finally let him take her out on a date. After some time of courtship, they were married.
Grandpa sold life insurance and made quite a living for himself. I would go into details of individual deals and the perseverance involved with making it in the life insurance business, but I don’t want to put everyone to sleep. While I have been blessed with the ability to find humor in everyday things, it’s almost impossible to keep a crowd excited when talking about Life Insurance. I’m not a miracle worker here!
However, I do know first hand that Grandpa must have been really good at his profession, because he has a wealth of trophies corresponding to his various achievements.
- Salesman of the year – (13 times).
- President of the Minneapolis Association of Life Underwriters.
- The George Washington Founding Father of Modern Life Insurance Sales Lifetime Achievement Award. (OK, I made that one up)
You name it, and he’s got a trophy for it. During his day, Norb was like the Arnold Palmer of insurance sales (or for the younger crowd, he was the Tiger Woods of his field).
Insurance aside, when you look at his trophy case, you’ll also notice that he was once the Tiger Woods of Minnesota Golf. This guy has more trophies than I can count. There is so much bronze on his shelves that the only thing missing is a bronze statue of Norby himself!
Proving that they are meant to be together, Grandma has amassed herself quite a few trophies as well. In fact, rumor has it that she can beat Grandpa on the links nowadays. Both can shoot their age on the golf course, which I find quite impressive. I would need to be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest man before I could ever accomplish that feat!
But their real trophies are their children, grandchildren and great grand children; all two hundred of us. Well, maybe not 200, but there are quite a few descendants in the room today. That’s what happens when you have 8 children!
Nowadays 8 children is nearly unheard of, but in their time, this was expected. Much credit is due to their strong catholic upbringing as well as the fact that this all took place before the widespread use of contraceptives.
Catholicism also contributed to the naming of their 8 children. Resulting in their children being named after miracles past. Constance, Frances, Richard, Patricia, Theresa, Paul, Robert and Carol. It’s like a who’s who of Sainthood.
Those 8 children yielded 21 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren, which is a remarkable feat in itself. Even more remarkable is how we have all grown up to be very well adjusted adults. Being among the oldest of the cousins, I had the pleasure of seeing everyone grow up since they were in diapers.
In fact, it’s hard for me to imagine some of you out of diapers (especially you little Zachy).
Grandma and Grandpa are so proud of their grandchildren, always touting our accomplishments to anyone who would lend an ear, and constantly impressing their friends with a seemingly never ending string of A honor roll’s and sports trophies.
I didn’t fully realize the extent of how much they talked about us until I was in the 10th grade. On the first day of school, I found myself sitting in science class with our teacher reading off the roster of students for our class. He read through most of the alphabet without a hitch, and all was going well until he got to the S’s. He took one look at my name, read it out loud and said “Jeff Sauer, hey, I know your grandparents! ”
I had no idea how to react to this. How did this guy know my grandparents? How did he know my first and last name if it wasn’t Koch? Are people going to think I’m a nerd because of this? There goes my shot at winning the high school popularity contest! Being in 10th grade, the last thing that I wanted to be associated with is being the kid whose grandparents knew the teacher. That’s like putting a gigantic “kick me” sign on my back for the rest of the year.
Embarrassment aside, I was also curious as to how the heck this guy would know my name and how he knew Lenorby. It turns out that my teacher, was a waiter at a Chinese restaurant called the Pagoda. My grandparents were regular customers of his for several years (we all know how loyal Lenorby are to Chinese food joints) and had been telling Roger about our achievements ever since we were in elementary school! Knowing grandma and grandpa, I wasn’t surprised at all, but I WAS surprised that he knew who I was given the fact that I have a different last name! Those must have been some in depth conversations at the Pagoda.
As you can see, it is obvious that Grandma and Grandpa love every one of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Over the past 60 years they have instilled this love into everyone around them and they have served as a catalyst for all of our life’s achievements.
Like any long-term relationship, it takes work to keep things running smoothly on a day-to-day basis. I’m not going to lie and say that everything has been good every step along the way, but the good far outweighs the bad, and overall the past 60 years have been great!
I am honored that I was given this opportunity to be the MC of this event. I love my grandparents with all my heart, and they have instilled so many good qualities in me that I am a better person as a result. My fathers’ parents passed away before I was born, so I have only known two grandparents in my life. While nothing can take the place of two sets of grandparents, I feel you did everything you could to make up that gap for me.
Thank you for everything you have done. I love you so much. Happy 60th anniversary.
Love, your little Jeffy.