Bud and Lynn Russell celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary on Feb. 6, and continued the celebration the next day with a family brunch. The couple met at Camp Pendleton where 1st Marine Regiment Staff Sergeant Bud was in charge of the non-commissioned officer (NCO) club and civillian, Lynn, was in charge of the base laundry at Camp Mateo on the base.
The courtship that began in 1962 eventually led to their marriage in a Las Vegas chapel by a Lutheran minister.
“If we had thought about it, we would have gotten married on Valentine’s Day, but we didn’t think about it,” Lynn said.
Bud and Lynn and the two friends who made up the wedding party traveled from southern California to Las Vegas together for the weekend ceremony. She and her maid-of-honor are still good friends.
When asked about a honeymoon, Lynn replied, “Who had time? I had Peter, David and Paul (sons from a previous marriage) and Bud had three children (from a previous marriage).”
Both Lynn and Bud say their children find it hard to believe the conditions in which their parents grew up. Lynn was born in Seattle and when she was six, her mother died. Her father remarried and she was sent to an orphanage. When the orphanage determined she was not an orphan, they sent her to an institution for delinquent girls. She was the youngest child there at the age of eight.
“I ran away three times,” Lynn said.
Her father died when Lynn was 12 and as the result of an inheritance, she was sent to a boarding school where she also went to high school. At the age of 18, she joined the Marine Corps.
Bud was born in Lomita. Needing a shirt and trousers for school, he went to a local store and charged the items to the account his mother had there.
“If you want a shirt and trousers, go out and get your own,” he was reprimanded by his parents. At about 11, Bud fed turkeys on a ranch every day after school and on the weekends. When he was about 12, he worked in a butcher shop.
At 13, his mother, who he later found out had cancer, sent him to live with his sister who was eight years older and who had two children.
“She stuck me in the garage,” Bud said. So going to high school, he was basically on his own. “I was running around footloose and fancy free,” he said.
He next went to live with a brother sleeping on a couch. “I got a job at the zinc and die cast (shop) and rented my own apartment when I was 15,” he said.
A buddy got a little rowdy at the apartment and when the police arrived, they explained to Bud that he had to be 21 to live on his own. At the time he was just 17. As a result, Bud decided to join the Navy but when he went to enlist the recruiter was not in the office so he went across the street and signed up with the Marine Corps. He was sent home on emergency leave when his mother was scheduled to have surgery for lung cancer and six months after his leave, she died.
Bud spent 21 years on active duty with the Marine Corps serving in both the Korean War and Vietnam and was sent to Cuba in 1962 participating in the military blockade during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He retired from active duty in 1972 and served in the reserves for the next 10 years.
Lynn, 80, and Bud, 81, continue to be active in the community where they are members of Oakhurst Lutheran Church and its men’s and women’s clubs. They are are also members of the Marine Corps League Griswold Mountain Detachment and its honor guard which provides military honors for area veterans. They are members of VFW Post #8743, the American Legion and La Sierra Guild of Valley Children’s Hospital.
Lynn is also a founding member of the local Red Hat Society and Bud is thinking about volunteering with the California Highway Patrol’s new program for seniors.
All three of Lynn’s sons have passed away.
Bud’s daughter, Janet, her husband Robert Denton and their daughter, Samantha live in Harbor City. His daughter, Sandra Russell, resides in California.
The couple have two sons of their own. Patrick is a Yosemite High School graduate. He and his wife, Veronica, and their children, Gabriela, Lucas and Samuel live in Fresno. Son Danny and his son, Zachary, are residents of Coarsegold.
“We don’t argue very often. We really don’t. Maybe it’s because we have been together so long,” said Lynn addressing the longevity of their marriage.