Tonight Russ and Delana Beaton celebrated 61 years of marriage at the Willamette Heritage Center's Dye House. Their children, Lynn, Alan, and Brenda, organized the event in a masterful fashion.
Laurel, my wife, and I have known the Beatons for a long time, over 25 years. If there's one word that describes them, its nice. If you want two words, nice and caring. Going for three, nice and caring and competent.
After a moving slide show of their married life narrated in a poetic rhyming fashion by their children, other people spoke about Russ and Delana. When a microphone was put in my hand, I said something like this:
Russ and Delana strike me as the nicest people I've ever known. I'm sitting at a table with three retired Willamette University professors. [Russ, and I think Delana also, taught there for many years.] Because I'm political and like to dig for truths under the surface, I asked them if in their experience, the Beatons really are as nice as they seem to be. Each of them said, Yes, they are. The only negative thing I heard from their Willamette colleagues was, Sometimes they can be too nice. Which doesn't seem like a flaw to me. Not at all. I only wish that one day someone would say about me, "He was too nice." For sure, this will never happen.
There were lots of stories and anecdotes about the accomplishments of Russ and Delana. They've changed so many lives for the better. To give a couple of examples -- and there are many more -- Russ was instrumental in getting Oregon's highly successful land use system off the ground, and Delana has been a tireless advocate for homeless people in Salem.
Here's some photos of their wedding 61 years ago that I captured via my iPhone.
It was a beautiful celebration for a beautiful couple. In a world with so much negativity, it felt healing to be in at atmosphere of well-deserved unalloyed positivity toward the Beatons and how they’ve helped others over so many years.
Near the end, Russ said "usually such praise is only heard at your funeral." Originally scheduled for last year, but Covid led to a postponement. Russ did mention that they were married in 1961, so he saw a certain symmetry in celebrating their 61st anniversary now.