Romance rekindled: Moffat County high school sweethearts prove it’s never too late to find someone to love
February 14, 2019
It was 1955. Craig residents were enjoying a golden era of sock hops, movies, and fast cars.
Junior high school students Ron Wilson and Bonnie Hoffman started noticing each other.
"We started going together. We would just arrive some place at the same time, at a square dance or the sock hop or the youth group at the church," Bonnie said.
He was one year older than she. In high school, when Bonnie's dad told her he didn't believe girls needed cars, Ron taught her how to drive his car.
The pair worked together at the West Theatre. Ron ran the projector at the theater in town and the drive-in to the east of town. Bonnie sold tickets and worked concessions.
They went steady until the beginning of their junior year of high school.
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"We broke up," Bonnie said.
Ron jokes about it, "I had a ’55 Chevy and couldn't afford them both."
The last years of high school, they dated other people.
Going their own ways
After graduating in 1959, Ron enlisted in the U.S. Army and traveled to bases across the United States. He returned to Craig in 1964 and married a Steamboat Springs girl — Sherry Cartwright.
"We had three children and moved to California," Ron said.
There, he was able to earn a certificate in automatic transmission repair for the price of the textbook. He gained qualifications in diesel and welding in his quest to become a mechanic.
His parents wanted their son closer to home, so they sent applications to the mines on his behalf.
Trapper Mine hired him but laid him off in 1978. He obtained work at what is now Twentymile Mine before Trapper could hire him back. Eventually, he worked for both the city of Craig and Moffat County, from which he retired in 2004.
"I worked all my life and was never out of work," Ron said.
Along the way, his marriage with Sherry ended, and he married Sandy Baxter, adopting her son. Their marriage didn't last.
Meanwhile, after graduation Bonnie, age 18, married Ed Lightheizer, of Hayden. He worked for a seismograph crew.
"We bounced around Wyoming before moving back to Craig for my son's birth," Bonnie recalled.
Settled, they had three more children, two boys and one girl, they raised together.
It was a winter afternoon. Ed was spending the day at home in Hayden with their grandson while Bonnie made a trip to Craig. When she got home, her grandson said Ed was sleeping.
"He laid down to take a nap, went to sleep, and his heart just stopped," Bonnie said.
Ed was 53.
"I was 54 and a widow," Bonnie said.
Her children grown and her grandchildren growing, she figured she would live the rest of her life on her own.
"I had planned on growing old with the man I married, and it didn't happen," she said.
Rekindling the romance
In 1998, she and Ron bumped into each other at the grocery store. It was about 40 years since the couple had broken up.
"Pretty soon, he started coming to the house," said Bonnie.
She had remained close with Ron's parents, and it felt comfortable to have him back in her life.
They went to dinner for their first date as adults and started going steady. At age 59, to his 60 years, Bonnie wasn't thinking of marriage.
"At that age, you don't expect to remarry," she said.
Ron had other ideas. For Christmas of 1998, he put a ring in a box under the Christmas tree.
"I opened the box, and there was this ring. I looked at him and said, 'I thought we talked about this,'" she said.
Ron said, "She sort of tossed it under the couch." He didn't give up, though, and eventually won her over.
They were married in Hayden in May 1999 surrounded by their families.
Bonnie knew Ron was someone she could grow older with: "In this crazy world, there is a lot of crazy out there," she said.
Ron acknowledged he was pretty crazy at times, "and she still picked me," he said with a big smile.
The Wilsons are planning something special to celebrate their 20th anniversary, a year they will also celebrate their 60th class reunion. Ron will turn 80 this, and Bonnie 79.
"It's never too late to find someone to grow old with," Bonnie said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.