By Sue Moore
“Ours is a love story,” exclaims Betty Braymer of Vicksburg about their 72nd wedding anniversary. “I met Don Braymer at a USO dance in St. Louis in 1943 on Valentine’s Day. I was all dressed up in red, white and blue. He had a car and told me he didn’t dance very well. ‘I’ll teach you the fox trot’ I told him and in only a few months we were engaged.”
They were married on August 8, 1945 in St. Charles, Mo., after he got home from his Navy stint overseas. “We just eloped and my parents weren’t very happy about it. We moved to his hometown of Kalamazoo where Don took a job with Upjohn after the war. He worked in the motion picture division as he had been a photographer in the Navy. He retired in 1976 at the age of 55 to do free-lancing.” The couple traveled all over the world together to do motion pictures and shoot advertising products for large corporations. He built three houses for the couple to live in, first in Comstock, then Gourdneck Lake and finally in Vicksburg on Sunset Lake the last 30 years.
For 15 years upon full retirement they volunteered with Prime Time Players who entertained at the Coover Center in Kalamazoo. “It was a very rewarding experience,” Don said. “We got way more than we gave. We even got to see the inside of nursing homes and decided to stick it out here in our own home as long as possible.” He is 96; his wife is 92. Both are in reasonably good health.
She likes to write poetry and took a second place in the Schoolcraft Tournament of Writers contest in 2015. She has an electric typewriter, no computer to compose on, but texts to her children and grandchildren and is on Facebook. Don reads USA Today to keep up with what is going on in the world.
They have had four children, Don Allen Braymer, of California; David Braymer, deceased; Kathleen MacDonald, Boyne City; Bill Braymer, of Ann Arbor, who is the proud owner of Laurentide Winery in Suttons Bay, where the Braymers expect to celebrate their 72nd anniversary. There are 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
“The sun has shined on us brightly,” Don said. “Sure, there has been some sadness in our lives but there is in everyone’s lives. It’s all a miracle now.”