Making it work

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After 72 years of marriage, O. Marion Jones has stopped calling his wife, Katherine, by her real name. Actually, he stopped saying Katherine a long time ago.

"I have two names for her," said Marion on the couple's 72nd wedding anniversary Thursday. "I either call her 'sweetheart' or 'dear.'"

The sweethearts have been in Northwestern Colorado for all of their married lives.

Marion was living in Utah in 1932 when he received a letter from his brother who was at the Baggs Livestock Ranch in Baggs, Wyo. The letter encouraged Marion to come to the ranch because his brother had a girl for him.

The matchmaking worked perfectly.

"(My brother) did all right," Marion said.

"We were married on March 31, 1933 in Farmington, Utah," Katherine said, without any hesitation.

"That a girl," Marion said, complementing his wife's sharp 93-year-old memory.

The couple lived on the Colorado side of the Snake River Valley for 35 years after their marriage. They purchased their own ranch after getting married.

"That was one of my best decisions," Marion said about buying the ranch with cash.

On the ranch they raised sons Larry and Marion Kay. They now have eight grandchildren, 20 great- grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

While living 12 miles south of the Wyoming border, Marion served as a Moffat County Commissioner from 1956-68.

Jones said that as a commissioner he made five trips to Washington, D.C.

"If you want something done you better be there yourself," he said.

During Jones' tenure as a commissioner, the current courthouse was built. He contributed to the time capsule that will be opened in 2008.

"They only buried (the capsule) 2 or 3 inches into the ground," he said. "When word got out about that at the bars, we had to move it because people were looking for it."

Jones said that he is one of two or three people who know what is in the capsule.

"It's in the safe now," he said.

After his time as commissioner, the couple moved to Craig for a year while their house was built four miles north of town.

Marion helped to build the house that they moved into in 1969. They still live in it today.

"The contractors were working on three houses while they were building ours," he said. "When they weren't around, I would work on it myself."

On the 3 acres they own, the couple bred Palomino horses.

Katherine worked at the Benjamin Franklin Store in Craig for several years, but that was her only time with a paying job. Her real job was helping on the ranches.

"She could really bake things like sweet rolls," her daughter-in-law, Nora Jones, said.

"Her cooking was part of my condition today," Larry said, patting his stomach.

Katherine went to beauty school when she was growing up in Salt Lake City, but with two sons, she didn't have many chances to practice her trade.

"There was always a lot of work to do around the house," Katherine said.

"We had to pull together and work hard."

Marion worked for the county in weed control, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Game Department. He also worked as an undersheriff for 1 1/2 years.

"I took wild horses all over this county," he said. "Whoever needed my help, I would be there."

Jones said he remembered helping out others during some of the hardest winters in Moffat County.

"We had to help feed a lot of animals in '84," he said. "The snow drifts were high enough to where we couldn't see out our windows."

That wasn't the worst winter he remembered.

"The winters of '49 and '50 were the worst," he said. "Livestock died standing on all fours because they were frozen."

Most of Marion's work was done by horseback. The 94-year-old rode horses into his 80s.

Now the couple spends a majority of their time at the house they have occupied since 1969.

"We chew the fat a lot now," Marion said about how the couple keeps entertained.

Marion also does the dishes and laundry.

His son, Larry, and daughter-in-law, Nora, cook for the couple sometimes and check on them, but the older couple still lives by themselves.

The two credited hard work with keeping them together for 72 years.

"You have to give and take a little," Marion said. "We all change through life, and you have to be willing to work on those things.

"Right now, though, neither of us can do anything wrong."

"You've got to want to make it work out," Katherine added.

It's a simple but effective strategy that has worked for 72 years. That's 11 more than the average life expectancy of men.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com.

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