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Lives well lived: Rembes enjoy their long time together, in Kittredge

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By Deb Hurley Brobst

To say longevity is an integral part of Barbara and Boyd Rembe would be an understatement.

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The couple, who now live at Elk Run Assisted Living in Evergreen, are 96 and 95, respectively, have been married 74 years and lived in Kittredge for 68 years.

They still go everywhere together with Barbara — known as B.J. — pushing Boyd’s wheelchair as they participate in activities at Elk Run. Boyd still listens as B.J. plays the piano in the Elk Run club room, and he applauds after each song. Recently, B.J. played songs from “The Sound of Music” from memory.

“It’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever seen,” said Elk Run Marketing Director Lisa Carter. “This is so lovely.”

“They’re incredible people,” said Loie Evans, a family friend. “She is such a fabulous musician, and Boyd can recite poetry like you wouldn’t believe.”

While their memories aren’t as good as they once were, the Rembes still enjoy their lives and their time together.

“They are both very generous people,” daughter Beth Hennessy of Empire said, “both with their money and their time.”

Longevity in marriage

The couple met in 1942 when B.J. was working in a Fannie Mae candy store in Chicago right after graduating from high school and Boyd worked as a soda jerk in a nearby store. B.J. stopped in one day, asking for something to drink to go with her lunch.

“We got to talking,” B.J. said, “and before you know it, we were lined up for a date.”

“We went for a walk,” Boyd added, “and we took the long route.”

“It was love at first sight,” B.J. continued. “I didn’t expect to meet this tall handsome guy.”

They were married in 1945, B.J. quipping, “I married a younger man, so he’d last longer.”

B.J. has a degree in music education, playing piano, organ and harp. Boyd has degrees in liberal arts.

They were on their way to California for a job for Boyd, when they stopped in Kittredge — and never left.

On being married for more than seven decades, B.J. said it was a matter of not going to bed without getting things settled.

“We are exceptionally well matched,” B.J. said. “We were always able to work out whatever the problem was, so it wasn’t a problem anymore.”

B.J. described Boyd as a loving, thoughtful person.

“She a sweet, lovely lady,” Boyd added, “that I happen to love.”

Longevity in Kittredge

“We are sort of what you call permanent residents,” Boyd said of living in the same house in Kittredge for more than six decades. Their house was filled with sheet music, B.J.’s stained glass work and miniature harp collection, Boyd’s huge library of books and other mementoes from their long life together.

After serving in the Coast Guard in World War II, Boyd worked as an actuary for National Farmers Insurance, while B.J. taught music at Rembe Music Studio for 45 years, plus she had several secretarial jobs.

B.J. also was heavily involved in local organizations. She was awarded a plaque for 32 years of service by the Kittredge Water and Sanitation District, and she was involved with Evergreen Players, the Seniors’ Resource Center, Mount Evans Home Health Care & Hospice and Evergreen Animal Protective League.

B.J. was the organist for the First Church of Christ, Scientist

in Evergreen for decades, a seamstress and knitter, and she loved gardening.

B.J. participated in the 2007 Ms. Colorado Senior America Pageant, playing both the harp and piano in the talent portion of the competition.

“My mom is very generous, but she demanded perfection of her music students,” daughter Beth said. “My mom was the super energetic one; my dad was not.”

Boyd was a woodworker and is well-read.

“He is one of the most intelligent, well-read people I’ve ever met,” Beth said. “He has always been a very gentle soul. He is extremely even tempered.”

Boyd enjoyed golf and playing pool, and Beth has fond memories of flying kites with her dad. She said Boyd never owned a pair of jeans, and he always wore wingtip shoes ordered from Chicago.

“They were always dressed to the nines,” Beth said of both of her parents.

Now nonagenarians, they live in their apartment at Elk Run with their cat Caroline, and they say their lives are not as complicated as they once were.

“Everybody gets old,” B.J. said, adding some advice for others. “You need to take life as it is.”