On Feb. 10, Thomas and Rebecca Colbaugh celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary at their home with friends and family. A beautiful cake was made and decorated by their daughter, Karen Pagone.
Thomas is from Corona, N.M., and Rebecca comes from Cedarvale, N.M. Thomas says he saw Rebecca when she was about 13 at a singing convention in Grand Quivera, N.M. He tried to find out her name that day but couldn't. The next time he saw her, she was about 15. Both were at a basketball game, but he still didn't find out the name of that pretty girl. When he got home that night, Thomas walked up a hill behind his house and asked the Lord for help in getting acquainted. He already had his mind set on marrying that girl.
In 1942 Cedarvale's junior and senior classes were overcrowded so the decision was made to bus the classes to Corona High School. Thomas finally learned her name, since she was placed in two of his classes. In two weeks everyone but Rebecca knew she belonged to Thomas. They became good friends and started dating. When they were seniors, World War II was in progress and the draft was taking boys out of their senior classes. The decision was made for them to marry before the draft called Thomas. Rebecca was eligible to marry at age 18, but Thomas was required to be 21 or have one parent sign the marriage license. Thomas had to borrow the money from a friend to pay for the license. They traveled to Estancia, N.M., where his mother Mary signed for him. They were married Feb. 10, 1943, in the office of Judge Garvin. Thomas and Rebecca lived with her parents. Thomas worked for her father on his large farm and ranch, and they both finished high school.
In March 1944 the couple decided Thomas should sign up for the Navy. While in the service, Thomas had an emergency appendectomy. During the operation he lost the large artery in his left leg that carries the blood flow. He almost died and was in the hospital for a lengthy time. He was discharged on March 17, 1946, while he was still hospitalized. He traveled to Albuquerque to meet Rebecca, who was expecting their first baby any time. Karen was born March 28.
It was a hard birth, and neither Rebecca nor Thomas were able to work. Tom and Mary Colbaugh, Thomas's parents, came to New Mexico two months later and moved them to Delta.
In 1948, they bought a small house with a full basement for $3,500. Monthly payments were $35.
Thomas was a self-taught auctioneer who built the OK Auction house. He retired in 1987. Rebecca worked as a clerk for the Delta Combined Courts. She also retired in 1987.
They say getting old is hard work. Both are 93, still sharp in mind, and filled with love and respect for one another.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.