This Memorial Day Ed and Pat Welge will be remembering a lot -- the couple is looking forward to celebrating 60 years of marriage and a relationship that began during World War II.
The couple have had 60 years of adventure, from the first time they met -- on a blind date.
The date took place when Ed was home on Christmas leave from the Navy.
When his leave was up, Ed returned to his ship, the USS Houston CL 81, and he knew he was going to marry Pat.
Ed's ship was docked at that time in the Port of New York where it had just returned from a grand European tour of duty.
Ed graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Long Island, N.Y. in 1944. He served in the U.S. Merchant Marines until 1946 when he was ordered to active duty for training in the U.S. Navy and was assigned as an assistant engineering officer on the Houston. Ed graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy with a diploma in marine engineering and naval science and with a reserve officer's commission in the U.S. Navy.
Ed and Pat married on June 12, 1948. They spent part of their honeymoon with friends in Lake Nalhalla, N.Y. They proceeded to Norfolk, Va. and Ed's new naval assignment, the U.S.S. Kliensmith APD 134. Pat went to work at the naval base.
After the tour ended, they sadly left the Navy and their new friends to attend Bradly University. After one year, they took off on the great Alaskan adventure in 1950. They drove the Alaskan Highway to Atlin, B.C. to visit Pat's great aunt and uncle, who owned and operated a successful gold mine.
From Atlin, Ed and Pat made their next home at the University of Illinois. Ed studied geology while Pat was employed at the university. In 1951, a daughter was born to them, Erica Kristine Welge, and Ed graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in geology.
Ed was then employed with Continental Oil Co. as a seismologist in training in Mississippi. He didn't appreciate crawling through swamps dodging alligators, so he and Pat packed up their bags and said goodbye to the swamp and headed to the University of Nebraska.
Ed worked toward a master's degree, which involved field studies of the Pleistocene geology and its relation to the origin of place gold in the Atlin, B.C. area. They spent time with Pat's great uncle and aunt who helped Ed considerably with his knowledge of the Atlin area. Ed and Pat spent the entire summer of 1955 with Uncle John and Aunt Nena, after whom Pat is named (Pat is a nickname).
After the 1955 Atlin adventure, they proceeded to Sacramento, Calif., where Ed was employed with Chevron Oil Co., a job that was prearranged with Chevron before the 1955 Atlin trip. Ed's position was as an exploratory geologist, it was here that their second child was born in 1957, Hans Peter Andrew Welge.
Ed and Pat spent the next 10 years with Chevron, working all over California and on the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations in Utah and Arizona exploring for oil and uranium and even earth's hot spots for geo-thermal resources in the Salton Sea area.
The constant travel got old, Ed saw his chance to return to Bakersfield, Calif. and settle down to a more normal work life. This chance was with the California State Division of Oil and Gas. Ed worked for the state for 25 years in various positions. Eventually being promoted to supervising oil and gas engineer for District 4, Bakersfield.
Ed retired from the state job on April 30, 1990. The Welges had a home built in Pine a year before retirement.
When Ed was with Chevron Oil, Pat saw this as an opportunity to retire from employment outside the home and become a full-time housewife and mother.
Ed and Pat agree that the highlight of their 60 years together was their two children and their family trip to Germany in 1984 to visit relations and the ancestral home of the Welge Clan. It was a ball with the kids.
The two trips to Atlin, B.C. to experience life in the wild country with Uncle John and Aunt Nena were out of this world. Uncle John led a real pioneering life in the north, working in mines, guiding game hunters, carrying mail by dog team from Atlin to Whitehorse, being a prospector and discovering one of the largest underground placer mines in North America.
He wanted Ed and Pat to stay with him and let him teach Ed all the ropes of placer mining. He had no children. It looked great, but Pat wasn't sure she wanted to live in such an environment. Several years later she said, "Maybe we should have taken them up on that deal."