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Bob Lind, Published June 23 2012

Lind: Couple reunites 50 years after last date together

When Roger and Bonnie Butler were married, Roger’s brother Bruce read a poem he wrote titled “Fifty Years Between Dates.” Here’s the story behind that poem.

Roger was born in Jamestown, N.D., but his parents moved to Bemidji, Minn., in 1948 when they bought KBUN, a radio station there.

Roger had broken his knee while tobogganing in Jamestown. “But that didn’t affect my eyesight,” he says, “and I quickly ascertained that my freshman class at Bemidji High School had three extremely good-looking girls. Bonnie Morton was one of them.”

But it took him 2½ years to work up the nerve to approach her. “The magic moment happened after a football game during a dance in the cafeteria/

gym,” he says. “I took that famous, ‘Well, all she can say is no’ advice and asked her if she would like to dance. She said ‘yes’ and love was quickly in the air.”

Later, Roger took Bonnie to the senior prom. And the romance blossomed, despite an unfortunate incident when they double-dated with their friends Jim Erickson and Audrey Bull, riding in Jim’s car.

Before Roger left the house, his dad warned him, a “serial curfew abuser,” Roger admits, that he’d better be home by midnight or out he’d go.

Well, the two couples wound up walking along a beach that night when Jim and Audrey had a disagreement.

Suddenly, Audrey grabbed Jim’s car keys and pitched them into the lake. That led to the kids taking off their shoes and socks, rolling up pant legs and searching the lake for those keys. They found them, but by the time Roger got home it was 12:10 a.m. and he was in deep trouble.

Roger’s dad, fed up, said his son would have to leave home, but because he had a good excuse, he could stay until after graduation.

So Roger and Bonnie graduated. Roger worked for the Green Giant company in LeSueur, Minn., bummed with friends around the country, then enrolled at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn.

“Bonnie and I had one more date, but the magic was gone,” he says, even though “I carried the torch for a long time.”

Happy reunions

The next time they met was at the 25th reunion of Bemidji High’s 1951 class in 1976. Both had married someone else. They spoke briefly, but that was it until another 25 years went by and they met again at the 50th reunion of their class.

By then Bonnie was a widow living in Hillsboro, N.D., and Roger was divorced.

“We talked for a long time,” Roger says, “and then she had to drive a lady friend back to her motel. I started to give her a little kiss goodbye and she grabbed me and planted a good one. That sealed the deal, and about two weeks later I called her from Phoenix, where I’d moved in 1960.”

On June 1, 2002, they were married and Bruce (who died this year) read that poem.

Roger and Bonnie now live in a mobile home near Detroit Lakes, Minn., which puts them close to cabins where Bonnie’s daughters live. So this boy-meets-girl story has a happy ending, despite that 50-year wait between dates.

If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107; fax it to (701) 241-5487; or email blind@forumcomm.com