Needed a cook, landed a wife — A classic Moffat County love story |

Needed a cook, landed a wife — A classic Moffat County love story

Dave Seely nibbles on a heart-shaped sugar cookie given to him by his wife of 58 years, Shirley Seely.
Sasha Nelson/staff

CRAIG — Few things survive 58 years without fizzling, acquiring a little tarnish or a developing a few blemishes; one of those things just might be love.

If one Moffat County couple is anything to go by, love has a way of growing stronger, deeper and purer over time.

“Shirley has always been the love of my life,” said Dave Seely.

He and wife, Shirley Seely, will celebrate 58 years of marriage in July.

The couple met and fell in love while attending Moffat County High School. Shirley caught Dave’s eye at a favorite after-school hangout.

“She was a soda jerk at Cowan’s Drug Store. Coach wouldn’t allow carbonated drinks, so after football, we would go down for a tall orange drink,” he recalled.

At the urging of friends, Dave, a high school senior, asked Shirley, a high school junior, out on a date.

“He was a lot of fun, and we just hit it off,” Shirley said.

The first date was a success, so for their second date, they attended his high school prom.

After graduation, Dave left Craig to attend Brigham Young University, but he didn’t forget about his high school sweetheart.

“We wrote and still kept in contact. We were pretty well committed. After he decided he’d had enough college, he decided he wanted to ranch, and he needed a cook,” Shirley said.

At that time, the pair were living and dating in Greeley while attending college. At the end of the academic year, they moved home and were married.

Dave helped with the sheep and cattle operation, and Shirley cooked in the family ranch.

“I broke Shirley in feeding the hay crew,” Dave quipped, acknowledging the old saying — which advises that the way to a man’s heart is through the stomach — carries a lot of truth.

These many years later, Shirley continues to make Dave’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

“I’ve always been comfortable around Shirley. If you want it to last, it can’t be fiery,” Dave said. “We avoided domestic violence.”

Shirley was quick to reply.

“I told him if he was ever tempted, he’d better do a good job the first time, as he wouldn’t get another chance,” she said, with a laugh.

The couple raised four daughters and now, has 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

“There’s not a day he won’t tell you how blessed he is to have her. They are the true epitome of love,” said Shala Hixson, when she, on behalf of the family, nominated her grandparents for the Craig Press Cutest Couple Contest. “One without the other would never be as sweet. We love you, grandpa and grandma.”

Ranching wasn’t always easy. Shirley often worked out of the home to help support their family, including 16 years at Moffat County State Bank, now Bank of the West, and 32 years as Craig city clerk.

Dave explained that, when times got tough, especially during the 1980s, when many ranchers were losing everything, “we depended on each other. We knew it wasn’t anybody’s fault. We weren’t into blaming.”

They were lucky, and the ranch pulled through.

Dave continues to work the land, while Shirley continues to cook and takes care of the business end of the ranch.

“I tell him that I’m in charge, but he doesn’t usually jump when I holler,” she said. “He’s a very honest, trustworthy and good man. I respected him for that.”

Shirley and Dave shared their recipe for an enduring marriage:

“Love, for one thing,” Dave said.

“Respecting each other, being committed,” Shirley added.

And the “desire to succeed as a family,” Dave said. “That’s important.”

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or


See more