Cupid’s Arrow: WKU alumni celebrate 50th wedding anniversary

Mary Lou embraces their son who was one of the family members that organized their return to Diddle Arena.

Julie Sisler

As they walked toward Diddle Arena early on a Saturday morning, hand in hand, Mary Lou and Chuck Dobelstein were all smiles. They were greeted by their son Josh, who held a poster with a photo of them from when they were first dating.

Josh, along with his brothers Clint and Andy and some of Mary Lou and Chuck’s grandchildren, gathered to surprise the couple with a trip down memory lane to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

“We’ve got a full day,” Josh said.

The morning began with a drive down from Louisville, where the couple currently resides. The two had no idea where they were going or what to expect, but as they usually do, they held hands the entire car ride.

The family’s journey started at Diddle Arena, where the couple first met in archery class in the summer of 1968. Mary Lou and Chuck showed everyone exactly where the class was, noting multiple differences between WKU then and now.

“It was so different back then,” Mary Lou said. “After all, we were shooting arrows inside back then!” 

The couple discussed its college memories, including the celebrations that happened all over campus when WKU officially became designated as a university, not college, in 1966.

The couple wandered the area where it came to be, teasing each other about their archery skills the whole time.

“I got an A, and she got a B in the class,” Chuck said proudly.

Mary Lou and Chuck both laughed, but Mary Lou insisted it was less because of his skills and more because of his charm.

The two continued teasing each other about who could actually hold their own with a bow and arrow, though Mary Lou admitted Chuck’s skills in the area of pingpong surpassed her own by far.

Josh said the two came from opposite worlds. Mary Lou was an upper-middle-class girl while Chuck was a pastor’s son who worked three jobs to get through school. 

Despite their differences, Mary Lou said she knew she had to talk to him. Before a break, Mary Lou asked Chuck to catch a ride up to Louisville with him, and Chuck agreed. 

The entire family laughed as Chuck recounted the story of picking Mary Lou up and stopping by his apartment to grab breakfast, which consisted of some Chips Ahoy! cookies. 

“You should have seen her—I asked if she was sure she didn’t want any breakfast, and she just shook her head,” Chuck said with a laugh.

After that drive, Chuck began asking Mary Lou to go with him to Curly’s, a former local restaurant, for lunch after class. Mary Lou said these lunch dates were what meant the most to her.

Three months after they began dating, the two eloped with a quiet ceremony in October 1968.

“We eloped and went on down to Arby’s to eat afterwards,” Chuck said.

In order to commemorate Chuck and Mary Lou’s first meal as a married couple, the family stopped at the very same Arby’s for lunch on the couple’s 50th anniversary.

“We thought it would be nice for them to relive their first meal as a married couple,” Josh said.

They also visited the first house they owned together, as well as the hospital where their grandchildren were born, remarking how far they’ve come from that first house to now.

When asked how they’ve made their relationship work for 50 years, they smiled warmly at each other and Mary Lou first offered what she says is her favorite response to that question.

“Well, you know, we’ve only really been married 25 years,” she said. “He traveled so much those first years that we were really only married once he finished traveling so much!”

They both laughed before Chuck took her hand and gave his own answer. 

“Love and respect,” Chuck said. “That’s what we have. Any relationship can only work if both people have love and respect.”

Mary Lou and Chuck’s children noted this was a common theme growing up with their parents, and was something that shaped who they are today.

“Every year at Christmas, we’d ask what our parents wanted, and each year, they’d just say they wanted love and respect,” Clint said.

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.