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Blusts have an anniversary pandemic picnic to celebrate their 60th anniversary


GALENA–Ralph and Barbara Blust didn’t let a pandemic stop them from celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary on Thursday, July 23.

Their celebration may have been a bit unusual, but it was filled with six decades of memories and some very heartfelt moments through the window glass and over the speaker phone at Galena Stauss Senior Care Community.

Barbara sat at a table outside and Ralph at a table inside, red and white checked tablecloths spread over each, and their cell phones on speaker so they were able to communicate.

That just happened to be the most face-to-face contact–even if it was through a window pane–that the couple has shared since March, when the pandemic began and nursing home visits were no longer permitted.

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Together, the couple unpacked their shared picnic lunch–each picnic basket with a half a sandwich, some relishes, half a can of chips, half a bottle of Diet Coke and for dessert, half a miniature chocolate cake.

And as they ate, Barbara pulled from the dozens of cards the couple received and read to Ralph who sent each of the congratulatory wishes.

Many of the cards were from former colleagues of Ralph’s from his 50 years of service with fire departments in Addison, Glenside, Fox Lake and Cherry Valley.

It was 60 years ago that day that the couple began their life together when they were married in River Grove. They raised three children, including daughter Susan Steffan, who lives in East Dubuque. About a year ago Ralph moved into the nursing home in Galena; Barbara now lives with Susan. Their family has grown to include 12 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

As they reminisced, a van pulled up with their granddaughter, Sarah Sandlers, and the couple’s three great-grandchildren. The kids ran to the window, smiles spread across their faces and handmade anniversary cards in hand. That was the perfect ending to a perfect anniversary celebration in the midst of a pandemic.