Colville couple celebrates 70th wedding anniversary

Wyland and Elizabeth Huffman marked their 70th anniversary on Tuesday, Sept. 8, without fanfare due to social distancing guidelines, but their children say they are content to spend their days in each other’s company and feel blessed to still have each other.

“I think the secret to their success in marriage is that they very kind to each other and unselfish — and they put God first,” said daughter Kathleen Jones of Spokane.

The 2010 U.S. Census showed that just 6% of married couples reached their 50th anniversary. There was not even a statistic for the 70th because the platinum anniversary is so rare.

“It is pretty unusual and they are still doing really well cognitively and physically, which is also remarkable,” said Jones.

The Huffmans have resided in Colville since 2002 and their daughter, Laurie Hanson, also lives there. Son Frederick Huffman lives in North Idaho. Their 10 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren reside in many locations.

“We all just absolutely adore them,” said Jones.

She said Wyland has always been known for his warm and affirming character and Elizabeth for her kind and gentle spirit.

“Their love for each other and their commitment to God have truly been an inspiration to their family and friends over these 70 years,” she said.

The Huffmans met in Tucson, Arizona, after he left the Navy in 1950 to further his education and attend seminary. Wyland had enlisted when he was 18 and served as a Corpsman, commonly referred to by Marines as “Doc,” in World War II. He was a surgical technician in the South Pacific and treated casualties during the 1941-42 invasion of the Philippines, working in a field unit and on a hospital ship.

“He saw the most horrific things and those memories have stayed fresh in his mind, but he did what he had to do,” said Jones.

After the war ended in 1945, Wyland decided to pursue his higher education when his military contract was fulfilled. He met Elizabeth at the First Church of the Nazarene in Arizona and there was an immediate interest. She was studying to be a nurse and he remained in the Navy reserves while he finished up his college education and seminary classes.

Wyland and Elizabeth married in 1952 and he returned to active-duty as a chaplain. He remained in the military until his retirement in 1974. Jones said the Huffman children received a wonderful education about the cultural differences in the world as a military family. They traveled to Guam, Europe and many places in the U.S. tied to their father’s service. While Wyland spread God’s love to servicemen and their families, Elizabeth faithfully support his outreach with music and children’s ministries.
She also enjoyed a career as a registered nurse in clinics, the emergency room and pediatric settings.

Eventually, the Huffmans settled in Colville to be close to their grown children and became active in the community. Allison Hansen, who took the front page photo of the Huffmans in 2015, is married to their grandson, William Wyland Hanson, and has been “in the family’ since she was 15. She and her husband are expecting a son in November, who will also be named “Wyland” to honor his great-grandfather.

“Wyland and Elizabeth are the perfect example of an ideal marriage and I have been blessed by the influence they have had on my husband me,” she said.

Today, Wyland is 95 and Elizabeth is 91. The family wants to honor them on their special day, despite the fact that they will probably be doing so outside the window due to COVID-19 precautions.