The story of Riley and Faye Walters of Cassoday began long before they started dating, and has continued for 50 years of marriage.
“We met a long time before,” Faye said of the start of their relationship. “My grandfather and his [Riley’s] grandparents were friends.”
She said she went with her grandpa when she was about 8 years old to visit Riley’s parents and met him then, although she doesn’t remember it. But he does remember that day, even though he didn’t think much of it at the time.
“I was a little older, but I was too busy hauling hay,” he said of their first visit.
They didn’t meet again until Faye moved in with her grandfather in the fall of 1965 after she had graduated from high school. She was staying with her grandfather while she went to college at Butler to help care for him because he had had his leg amputated.
One time Riley came with his parents to visit her grandfather and asked her out on a date. They dated while Faye was attending the junior college.
They enjoyed going to a show in town and also liked to go out to the farm quite a bit and walk in the timber. Other dates included going to ball games while she was attending college.
Then during the summer she went back home, which she said was rough because he would try to come see her but it wasn’t often because he was so busy.
“I didn’t catch up with her too much because her dad said no calls after 9 o’clock,” Riley said.
But they did see each other some.
“It was about a year and we got engaged just before Thanksgiving,” she recalled, “and we planned our wedding around a farmer’s life.”
That meant they couldn’t get married in the summer because it was too busy of a time.
So they decided on Sunday, Feb. 19, 1967, at the Presbyterian Church. Faye said she thought that would give them enough time to plan the wedding.
But the wedding almost didn’t happen.
Riley said he was cutting trees in the pasture about two weeks before the wedding and a piece of wood flew back and hit him in the eye.
He went to see his doctor, who sent him to St. Francis Hospital in Wichita.
“I was in the hospital a week while I healed and I got home a week before the wedding,” Riley said.
Faye said they were urged to postpone the wedding, but neither of them wanted to.
Riley returned home the Sunday before their wedding. When he returned to the doctor on Monday he said all he could read on the eye chart was the big “E.” The doctor told him to come back on Wednesday, but he had not improved much. With the possibility of having to postpone the wedding, Riley asked to go back one more day.
He returned on Thursday and could read the whole chart.
“He said it would be more trauma to not go through with the wedding,” Faye said.
Riley’s doctor gave him permission to travel up to 100 miles from home, which allowed them to go on their honeymoon.
Once married they had to find a place to live. They rented a house in El Dorado for the first six months, then moved back to the house Riley was raised in.
“We did not have a lot of trauma in our wedding until the house burned down,” Faye said.
That happened in 2007 when their house caught on fire and was destroyed. They were living there with their daughter and her three children.
Riley said their daughter had noticed a light around the attic door. He emptied the only fire extinguisher they had into the fire, but it was not enough.
But they didn’t want to leave the area, so they built a new house on the land, designing it for two families, so their daughter could continue to live there.
Before retiring, Riley held three jobs, being a farmer, having a spray business and working for the county. They enjoyed that their children could work with them on the farm.
They have three children and nine grandchildren.
“To me we’ve had a happy life,” Faye said.
“We were compatible,” Riley said of their successful relationship.
Faye added, “My grandfather really liked him. Grandpa just had a fit when I would go out with anyone else.”
Her grandfather was happy when she started dating only Riley.
“We had some things in common, some not,” she said. “One thing we really feel worked to help was the church.”
She said when they first were married she was not going to church and he was. He took his family to church with him and they continue to attend church today.
Faye said now as they’ve gotten older, one of the hobbies they have gotten into is genealogy. One time they went to New York trying to trace their ancestors. They also are working on getting old photos organized on the computer.
“I just put 1,500 slides of ours on the computer and my mother had about 1,000, and I’m almost done,” Faye said.
The photos are some of the few things they saved from the fire.
They have learned some interesting facts, such as Faye’s family were some of the earliest settlers of Chelsea; and his were some of the earlier settlers in Pennsylvania. His family was massacred by the Indians and only two girls and two boys survived. The girls were saved by missionaries and the boys lived with the Indians for a while.
Their other hobby is their grandchildren. They have some in this area and others who live in Kansas City.
“Riley still likes to tinker around the farm,” Faye added.
They also are there to help each other. Faye said when she had knee surgery, Riley stepped in to help with cooking and cleaning, although he had not learned to do too much of that before.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good life,” she said.
When asked what advice they would give newlyweds, Faye said, “I think you have to work at it. You have to be willing to compromise and help each other. I did things I never thought I would do, but I didn’t do as much as some farm wives.”
She said she learned to drive the tractor, but she never did milk the cow.
“I’m a firm believer going to church helps,” she said.
They are celebrating their anniversary on Feb. 19 at the First Presbyterian Church in El Dorado.