Harry and Dee Horstman:A love story 60 yearsin the making

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Harry and Dee Horstman

By Carol McIntire


Harry and Dee Horstman share a love story that has spanned more than six decades.

The Scio couple, who will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary June 13, met at a young age, became engaged when she told him she wanted to date someone else and have experienced the good and bad in life together into their golden years. 

“We were both from Scio so we knew each other from school and church,” Dee said, but we didn’t date until after Harry went to college.”

One of her most vivid memories came from a sled riding party they both attended. Harry asked Dee, a pretty young lady, if he could take home. “Then he asked for a kiss. NOT!” Dee recalled.

The couple dated while in college and when Harry got a job teaching at Bowerston, Dee came home from Ohio University for weekends.

“I was home for a weekend and told him I wanted to date a fellow at the university,” she said. “It was off to Wheeling for an engagement ring!”

The two married June 13, 1959, in Scio United Methodist Church, which burnt down in the 1970s.

Dee says one of her favorite memories from that day was being serenaded in their friend’s car, driving around Scio at the front of the parade with all the cars following us with their horns blaring.

The wedding behind them, they were off for summer jobs at Lake Geneva, WI, at a church camp later the same day.

“On the way, our car broke down and I spent my wedding night in a creepy hotel in Norwalk, OH, and my father, his helper and Harry found a garage nearby and fixed the car. It was a scary trip on six-lane Dan Ryan expressway near Chicago since we had only traveled on two lane highways,” Dee remembered.

The couple spent summers from 1959 through 1964 at Conference Point Camp on Lake Geneva, run by the National Council of Churches. Harry was dean of the boys and Dee an assistant to the nurse.

Families from Illinois and Wisconsin attended camp there, including the Friends churches. 

“They practiced silence all week” Dee recalled. “That was the first time I knew about The Friends,” 

One year Martin Luther King and his Southern Conference demonstrators visited the camp to practice pacifist demonstrations. 

“That was scary to watch as some were demonstrating while others played the part of police. I put lots of bandages on many folks! It certainly was a preview of what was to come in the south,” she related. 

Years later, while on vacation, the family crossed the bridge at Selma, AL, where it all started. 

“At the time I didn’t know it, but the camp experience was actually history in the making.”

Dee and Harry were both teaching at Bowerston during the school year and traveling to Wisconsin for camp in the summer months when their first son, Christopher, was born and then, later when Bradley was born. 

Their last summer at the camp, 1964, Dee returned to Scio early for the birth of their daughter Amy, who was born with a severe heart condition. 

“She was only given a few weeks to survive,” Dee related. “We brought her home and put her in a crib sheltered by an umbrella so the oxygen could surround her better.”

As Amy was “surviving” as Dee put it, the couple was looking for a new summer job when John Beck of Carrollton asked Harry to work at Camp Aldersgate on Leesville Lake. 

“We spent the first summer in a room in the background of the dining room and I developed a Headstart kindergarten in Scio which became permanent,” according to Dee. 

As the years of summer progressed at camp, the Horstman family moved into a campers’ cabin. Harry managed the camp, the young boys had jobs, such as taking out the trash, checking the restrooms, mowing and taking care of the beach front. Dee managed the first aid room, ran the canteen, ordered food and was camp treasurer. At that time, the camp was owned by the Steubenville District Church.  “Our daughter was adopted by campers and staff who often carried her down the steep hill to the lake and beach,” Dee related.

The family spent summers at Aldersgate through 1969.

The family took trips to historic sites such as New Concord as at this time, Harry was a history teacher in Carrollton. The family also enjoyed camping.

Christopher is now retired from teaching in Noble County and Amy recently retired from a 37-year career with Highlights for Children. Bradley continues to work as maintenance supervisor at United Schools.

After the children were grown, the couple continued to make their home in Scio and traveled to France and Germany. 

They say one of the secrets to a long marriage is to take on projects as a team, much like the summer jobs at camps. Harry is a longtime member of the Conotton Creek Bike Trail and Dee is by his side volunteering as secretary/treasurer. Dee is the face behind the Scio Museum and Harry is by her side, assisting with projects.

Today the couple, ages 87 (Harry) and 84 (Dee), continue to be active in the community. They continue to enjoy “mystery trips” on Ohio’s back roads, attend local events, plays and concerts.

 Asked what their secret to success for a long, loving marriage has been, Dee is quick to respond: “Great sense of humor, enjoying our adult children and friends, living in a caring community and taking on community projects that improve our area.”

“We agree most of the time, but some the time we have to plead our cases like F. Lee Bailey!” she said. “And, of course, a daily hot tub splash!”

The couple has words of advice to youngsters just beginning a marriage…

*Romance is special. Love the one you are with!

*Invest some of your money in a high interest account.

*Pay credit cards off monthly.

*Have an acceptable credit score.

*Do without until you can afford it.

*Work hard to make a relationship work.

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