Hard work, millions of miles, love and above all, trust, frame the last six decades for Paul and Ina Mae Kopfmann, who celebrate 61 years of marriage on March 27, 2021.
The date also marks a year since the social distancing restrictions of the Covid pandemic infiltrated Jerauld County, sadly preventing the Alpena couple from celebrating their Diamond Anniversary in 2020.
This year, however, Paul and Ina Mae turn to their tried-and-true: a celebration with the growing family that they created together, made up of five children, 16 grandkids and 19 great grandkids.
Paul and Ina Mae’s story began in 1960 when the young couple tied the knot in the Lutheran Church that has since been converted into a residence — now the home of Roger and Mary Thompson in Wessington Springs.
“Paul worked for his dad and farmed and we never, ever took a vacation,” Ina Mae explained. “We enjoyed it though, the hard work and raising the kids, it was a good time in our lives.”
The Kopfmanns poured their energy into the farm and growing their family for the better part of the next decade, until the drought of 1976 had other plans. Like many small family farms, the drought of ’76 took its toll and forced the family to hold a farm sale and relocate to town.
“Right away I started doing concrete work at Alpena Concrete from 1976 - 1981,” Paul explained. “The boys took well to town and enjoyed playing at the Alpena Community Center.”
In the early 80s, Paul began a career that would span over three decades, driving truck for Stan’s Inc. from 1981 to 2018.
“It was 36 years and ten months to be exact,” Ina Mae said, being certain to point out that his dedication to the trade earned him a top-10 honoree nomination among truckers across the entire nation. “Paul drove over five million miles across Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.”
Although Paul spent many weeks away from Ina Mae and the kids over the decades, he always had a cherished piece of home with him each time he journeyed out on the road.
“It was a good living and a lot of hours, and I hardly ever had to eat in a cafe because of Ina Mae,” Paul said with a tender smile. “She would make a week’s worth of sandwiches for me — she made sure I was eating well.”
When asked to disclose the secret of a successful 61 years of a still-thriving partnership, Ina Mae is quick to answer: “It’s simple. You’ve got to have love but you’ve really got to have trust. The biggest thing is trust.”
Anniversary greetings for Paul and Ina Mae may be sent to: 420 5th Street S., Alpena, SD 57312.