Love stories

Couples show that love can last

Rovilla and Darrel Ellis Enlargephoto

Rovilla and Darrel Ellis

Valentines Day has long been a day when we express our love and friendship for that one special someone, for a friend, or even for a group of people.

In these two couples' case, however, their love and devotion is not only an every day thing, it has lasted a long time.

Russel and Faye Culp have been married for 74 years. In fact, they just celebrated their 74th anniversary on Monday, Feb. 11. They live in an unassuming and comfortable house north of Mancos, on property that they bought in the 1940s. "We've lived in this house since 1945," said Russel. It had quite a few acres with it, but there was a "method to my madness", he said. As a result of sharing the land, he and Faye can say that their two children - Howard Culp and Belva Heath - both live close to them. One lives about 200 yards away on the same road, and the other lives across the road. So, the Culps have been able to see their grandchildren grow up and be a part of their lives.

As a young couple, the Culps met in Bayfield, Colorado. "We took Faye's mother and my folks and got married in Aztec, N.M. We had $18 when we got married!," Russel said, and they were both 18 at the time.

He worked in construction most of his life, helping to build Jackson Gulch and many of the roads that now go to Durango and beyond. He followed work all over the Western part of the United States, and was project manager on many sites in Utah, Wyoming and Nevada. Faye accompanied him to many of the jobs and places that he went.

They raised chickens, turkeys, milk cows and pigs, Russel said. When they started out in the house they still live in, they didn't have electricity or running water, but it wasn't long before they got both.

"We made a deal," Russel said. "If she would stay home and take care of the kids, I'd try to make a living."

When Russel retired in the mid-1970s, he and Faye did a lot of traveling with other couples. They spent time in Texas, the Canyonlands and other spots that they remember fondly. "We even got a bungalow in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico," he said. They also loved to square dance in their spare time, Faye said. "We eat out a lot," she said. And their Sunday dinners are spent at their daughter, Belva's house, with their family.

"We've had our ups and downs, just like anyone else," Russel said.

? ? ? ? ? ? ?

Darrel and Rovilla Ellis have been married 57 years. They got married on June 7, 1955 in a simple ceremony in Weber Canyon, when Rovilla was 19, and Darrel was "almost 21".

Rovilla's family moved here in 1953, her senior year of high school, from Kansas. Some of her family members were having some health problems and they knew the drier weather would help, so this is where they landed.

Darrel joined the Air Force in 1956 when he graduated from college, and stayed for 13 years. "I went all over the world," he said. And Rovilla went with him.

They had four kids during that time. Marva, now in Provo, Utah; Carl and Lyle, both now in Salt Lake City; and their youngest daughter, Marie, who is now in Rexburg, Idaho. In his travels with the Air Force, Darrel took them to Turkey for three years, a time he remembers as being very educational and good for his kids.

Rovilla worked at the Mesa Verde Museum Association starting in 1972 as a bookeeper, but eventually worked her way up to be executive director. "I was there for 28 and a half years," she said. She retired in 2001. "It was an interested career! I liked learning all I could and being involved in other National Parks," she said.

Rovilla has also been on the town board of trustees for about three years, she said. "You have no idea of all the things that happen in a small town," she said.

Darrel now serves on the library board, is secretary at the Masonic Lodge, serves on the board of Onward! A Legacy Foundation, and is part of the Mancos Centennial School Foundation. He also helped to take care of Rovilla's mother for 4 1/2 years, he said. "I am grateful for what I have. We're all blessed with what we have."

They both graduated from Mancos High School and all four of their children did, too. So they are very much invested in what happens at the school.

"You have to have a lot of patience to be together this long," said Rovilla. "Each of you is different, and you have to accept each other and who you are."

"Yep," said Darrel. "Getting older and taking care of each other .... really means taking care of each other!"

These valentines - and many others - will be celebrating Valentines Day with each other.

Rovilla and Darrel Ellis in 1955 Enlargephoto

courtesy photo

Rovilla and Darrel Ellis in 1955

Russel and Faye Culp celebrate their 74th anniversary on Monday, Feb. 11 at the Mancos Senior Center. Enlargephoto

Russel and Faye Culp celebrate their 74th anniversary on Monday, Feb. 11 at the Mancos Senior Center.