Love That Lasts: Dubuque Couple Tunes In At Picnic, Now Celebrating 65 Years | News from the three states



A chance encounter while accompanying an orphan’s picnic turned into a love affair for Betty and Bob Dean, of Dubuque, who celebrated their 65th birthday last June.

Betty, now 86, and Bob, 85, still remember that first meeting very well. They explained that during the 1950s, the Illinois Central Railroad regularly held an outing for local orphans, who enjoyed a train ride to Dyersville, ice cream, games and prizes.

“A friend of mine whose mother worked for the (railroad) called and asked if I was accompanying orphans in St. Mary’s,” Betty said.

Meanwhile, Bob’s dad also worked for the Illinois Central Railroad as a truck driver, and Bob usually rode with him to bring ice cream to Dyersville for the event. In 1954, however, a replacement chaperone was needed, and Bob was recruited to chaperone ten orphans from Mount Pleasant Home.

As Betty and her friend watched their young accusations, the two girls noticed Bob and one of his friends standing nearby.

“I saw these handsome guys and I said to the little kids, ‘Go mingle with these other kids,’” Betty said with a laugh.

The chance meeting sparked a court and the deans were married on June 11, 1955 at Saint-Patrick’s Church in Dubuque.

They moved into a house in rural Dubuque County with 18 acres.

“I turned it into a big old colonial southern mansion,” Bob recalls.

He went to work for John Deere and spent 17 years in the engineering department, followed by 17 more in quality engineering.

Betty, meanwhile, worked for the Dubuque Community School District for 18 years as part of the Preschool Development Program.

“We were getting them ready for kindergarten,” she says. “It was the best job. I loved my job.

She also played the organ at Holy Trinity Catholic Church for 48 years and was the church’s music director for 23 of those years.

After about a decade in their “mansion,” the Deans moved to a house on Lindberg Terrace in Dubuque, where they would reside for the next 36 years.

There they raised their two children, Tom Dean and Marilee McCauley, both of whom were adopted at a young age by Catholic charities.

McCauley fondly recalled how his mother told him the story of his adoption.

“She always told me how they expected this little girl, when I got on a plane from Colorado on a snowy day in April,” she said. “She always made history so special and always made me feel very loved.”

McCauley now lives with her husband and two daughters in Virginia, where she works as the Human Resources Coordinator for the international law firm Jones Day. She described her parents as a “united couple” who taught her and her brother the value of hard work.

“These are two people who are among the most hardworking people I know, both at home and in their professional life, and they simply did everything they could to give us a great childhood,” said she declared.

Betty and Bob now live on Arbor Hills Drive, where Bob mows the lawn on a John Deere tractor and takes care of his yard and garden.

“I’m going to do a little bit every day because if I do something it takes me a lot longer now,” he said. “I’m 20 years old in my brain, but I’m 85 years old in my body.”

In addition to his gardening job, Bob is busy painting and completing puzzles. Betty enjoys Swedish weaving, crochet and knitting. Each winter, she sends 30 knitted hats to her daughter-in-law, a first-grade teacher in Des Moines, who distributes them to needy children in her class.

The deans recognized the patience, respect and forgiveness for their long and fruitful union.

“The secret, I think, in life is to never go to bed angry, because it’s usually just a trifle, and it doesn’t mean anything anyway,” Bob said.


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