Rainbow Hospice Patient and Wife Celebrate 76 Years
Maybe it was fate at work that summer day in 1940, or just luck, but If Raymond Uttech hadn’t gone to Fireman’s Park in Ixonia for a picnic, he may have never met the love of his life.
“Many years ago at Fireman’s Park, they had that picnic in the woods,” said Raymond. “Then I met that girl and I said ‘that’s going to be my girl, I’m going to try.’
From that day on, Raymond, now 99, and his wife, Irene, 95 have been together.
“We’d do our chores, see a movie, get a bite to eat sometimes, and then he’d take me home, “ said Irene Uttech. “He had to work early so he couldn’t stay out all night and I had to be up by 6 in the morning to milk cows.”
They married almost four years later on August 26, 1944, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ixonia. Now 76 years later, they’re still very much in love. Out of that union came five children, and eventually 18 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
Raymond and Irene Uttech don’t know if there is one big secret for a long and happy marriage, but that day they stole each other’s hearts, their love only grew more and more.
“I think it was because of their family, their kids, their faith, and their love,” said daughter Merrikay Knight. “That and mom’s good cooking is what has kept them together.”
Before he and Irene got married, Raymond took over his grandfather’s farm and did that for almost six years. After that, he and Irene built their first home.
“I dug the hole and laid up the blocks and cut up all the lumber,” said Raymond. “We drew up the plans and I did the wiring and the plumbing. She (Irene) was always right there helping. My little helper and myself.”
Raymond worked a few different jobs, including at a welding auto repair shop, a tire and supply store, and did radio, television, and appliance repair, before becoming an engineer at Karma in Watertown. There he had numerous inventions and patents for his work in the food vending division.
“There wasn’t anything he couldn’t fix and he’s only got a sixth-grade education,” Knight said.
“He knew his machines and then when he came home, he’d have to fix whatever wasn’t working there,” Irene said.
Irene kept the home front going, doing the cooking, cleaning, and looking after their children. She also made rugs, wedding cakes, and did some catering over the years.
After Raymond retired they spent their time traveling all around the United States in a motor home, visiting Florida, Arizona, Texas, and Tennessee and spending time with their family.
The Uttechs have been at Heritage Homes together for the past year and Raymond has been on Rainbow Hospice Care’s services since March.
On their actual anniversary date of August 26, they enjoyed a celebration filled with outdoor visits, flowers, and a big cake. A huge anniversary sign was also donated from Sign Gypsies of Madison to commemorate the occasion. Then their family planned something special for them again.
On the last weekend of August, over one hundred family members and friends participated in a drive-by parade at Heritage Homes, which was also along the route of a classic car parade. It turned out to be a nice bonus for the two love birds that weren’t expecting such a great gift.
“We kind of surprised them a little bit, they thought there were just seeing a car show,” Knight said.
“I didn’t think that many were coming, even nieces and nephews were there,” Irene said. “They all took the time to come for us.”
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic was especially tough on both of them and their family. Raymond was in the hospital in March battling pneumonia and no one was able to go visit him. But he soon recovered and went back to Heritage Homes with Irene by his side like always.
“They can’t be separated, that’s for sure,” Knight said. “When one isn’t there the other one is totally lost. He has to protect her and she has to protect him.”
Both Raymond and Irene can’t believe it’s been 76 years already. Somehow those days turned into decades pretty fast.
“76 years sounds like a long time,” Irene said. “There was never a secret. You just did what you had to do and that was it. You can’t explain it to other people. Sure there were times we argued about this or that but that always went over and we figured it out.”
“I have parents who were always watching over us and taking good care of us when we were young and innocent,” Knight said. “Now it’s our turn to take care of them and we do whatever we can for them.”
Raymond says their love is like a big magnet. No matter how you describe it, it’s kept them together all these years, with a love that only grows stronger with each passing day.