Couple celebrates 70th anniversary

Robert and Pat Lahti are pictured here in their present-day setting at the Princeton Apartments where they moved last year from the Backus area. The Lahtis have been married 70 years this week.

It was a hot summer day in August of 1941.

Like many people in the Superior, Wis. area, Patty Logee went out to Pattison State Park in northwestern Wisconsin, to take a swim in one of the park’s lakes by swimming out to an island to cool down from the heat.

But a funny thing happened on the way to that island.

Pat Lahti, left, is pictured with Robert in this photo taken in 1941, the year that the couple met. They were married 70 years ago this week.

Pat, then 18, swam by a gentleman who caught her eye.

Later that afternoon, Pat ran into a male friend, who encouraged her to say hello to his buddy.

Was it coincidence or fate? The friend’s buddy was Robert Lahti, that same good looking gent she had met out in the middle of the lake.

“I knew it was fate,” Pat said.

If fate means that the chance meeting in the middle of a lake in Pattison State Park would result in a lifetime together, then Pat is right. Their meeting was fate.

On Tuesday the 92-year-old Robert and 90-year-old Pat (She turns 90 Saturday on St. Patrick’s Day) celebrated their 70th anniversary at their home in the Princeton Apartments.

Pat never figured she’d be married to Robert a day, much less 70 years after that day at the lake.

“I figured I’d never hear from him again,” Pat said. “I think he had another date to get rid of.”

“My memory is fading,” Robert said with a smile.

But a week later Robert called the younger Patty and asked her on a date. At the risk of getting in trouble, Robert admitted, “She had nice legs.”

They went to the Tri-State Fair on that date and went to see a fortuneteller.

The words of the fortuneteller weren’t what you might expect.

Another couple were with Robert and Pat and the fortuneteller matched Robert with the girl from the other couple and Pat with the other guy.

But Robert and Pat weren’t going to settle for the results of that mix-up. Their dating got more serious. They spent their days going on long hikes or taking drives through the countryside. They also liked skating. Robert says he just liked being able to put his arm around Pat.

“We just spent some time getting to know each other real well,” Pat said.

The couple went together for seven months and during that time the United States went to war. The young couple got married on March 13, 1942. In November Robert enlisted in the Army and went off to China to serve in World War II. He was in China for three years and worked on radio systems.

Soon after Robert left, Pat gave birth to a baby boy — the couple’s first son Bob. Pat and the child lived in various residences in Superior.

“I wrote Bob every day while he was gone,” Pat said of her husband.

“Those were really love letters. I was in love and have been that way for all of the 70 years,” Pat said.

Robert returned from China in November of 1945.

“I served just 10 days short of three years,” he said.

He took the train home from Chicago to Superior and was greeted by his wife and, for the first time, his son.

“Those were exciting times,” Robert said.

Robert took work in the electronics industry. Pat worked in an office at a Superior shipyard. Upon Robert’s return home, Pat wanted another baby. Their daughter Faye was soon born. They would also have a son Roger, who would later die in an accident.

One day Robert answered an ad in the paper and interviewed for a job in the Twin Cities with Sperry Univac. He was offered the job, the family relocated to Burnsville, and Robert was on his way to a 23-year career with Sperry Univac that took the family to Ohio and then back to Minnesota at Eagan.

The couple retired in 1978 and headed to the north woods of the Backus area, where they resided for 30 years and spent their days volunteering for seniors. It’s a mission that provided them a lot of good times, Robert said.

Last year the Lahtis relocated to Princeton to be near their daughter Faye.

After 70 years of marriage, Pat says she and Robert love each other more than the day they were married.

“Staying in love has been a wonderful journey and we’ve raised a fantastic family,” Robert said.

These days, at age 92, Robert starts his day off by serving his wife a cup of coffee. Pat admits that because she’s the youngster in the relationship, she wakes first, but she waits for Robert to rise so they can have that first cup of coffee together.

They then start each day with a game of cribbage. That’s how they determine how their day is going to go,” Pat said.

The Lahtis don’t have a lot of secrets to the success of a long marriage, but Pat says having a sense of humor is one of the most important things.

“I just know I have been real lucky,” Pat said.

“I have, too,” replied Robert.