They met in a high school English class. The year was 1941. This October 10, Stan and Anita Fagerstrom, residents of Oakwood for the past 11 years, will celebrate their 72nd Wedding Anniversary.
The Fagerstroms actually have spent most of their wedded lives together in the Pacific Northwest. They moved here after having lived for 13 years in the community of Florence, Oregon. Prior to moving to Florence they had lived for decades right on the shore of Silver Lake in southwest Washington State. Silver Lake is in the foothills of the Cascades and about 40 miles as the crow flies due west of Mount St. Helens.
Anita was born in Washington State. Stan, two years older than his wife, was born on a small wheat farm in North Dakota and moved to Washington State with his parents in 1936 at the height of the Great Depression and Drought.
Today, Stan is 92 years old and Anita is 90. Like other old timers in that age bracket, the two stepped out of high school and directly into the terror and tension that was so much a part of World War II.
Stan enlisted in the United States Army on December 7, 1942 – exactly one year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. “We knew it was just a matter of time,” Anita says, “before Stan would be sent off somewhere to fight.” He took infantry basic training at Camp Roberts, California and then became a non-com instructor at the hand grenade at Fort Ord, CA. “With that kind of training we knew he was almost certain to wind up in the middle of things. And that’s exactly what eventually happened.”
Today the long wed pair will tell you something else. They were just as much in love back there in those early days as they are now. “Today,” Anita says, “society seems to pretty much accept young people living together prior to marriage. That wasn’t nearly as true or as accepted in the middle of the last century. We wanted to be together and decided not to wait.”
Anita and Stan were married October 10, 1943 at an Army Chapel at Ford Ord. A few months later Stan was sent overseas to join the 31st Infantry Division that was fighting in New Guinea. He was later to see jungle combat in what was then the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia, and eventually the Philippine Islands.
The couple has two sons. Dan, the eldest, lives in Chandler. The youngest son, Scott, lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Stan has been a journalist and freelance writer ever since his wartime service. For almost as long he has also been featured at outdoor shows over much of the world with his trick and accuracy casting demonstrations. He has been voted into both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame and the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame.