Diamond anniversary: Dave and Esther Fennimore’s life together has helped shape the Scotts Mills community

December 2012 Posted in People
Dave and Esther Fennimore celebrate 60 years of marriage.

Dave and Esther Fennimore celebrate 60 years of marriage. Photo by Kelsi Kenfield.

By Brenna Wiegand

In a town of 350, having 200-250 people show up for an anniversary party is quite a feat.

Not for Scotts Mills, which turned out en masse at the Scott Mills Grange Dec. 1 to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of Dave and Esther Fennimore.

“It was a big old potluck – things were just crazy,” the couple’s daughter Niki Barber said. “I stood at the head of the food line just so I could try and greet everybody.

“It was a great honor for them to have that celebration – 60 years doesn’t just come around every day – and a great honor for me to go – me and my children and my grandchildren and my brother. Some people drove hours to be there.”

A musical group from the Friends Church played all evening long out of appreciation for their good neighbors.

“All the people who showed up, oh, my gosh it was just wonderful,” Esther said. “And all the food we had, oh my goodness.”

“I just felt so proud of them for being such a good example of a marriage,” said Jeane Duda of her godparents. “In a world where divorce is commonplace, people just don’t hang on through the hard times long enough to make it through to that ‘Wow, we did it’ point.”

When Esther and Dave took their vows Nov. 29, 1952, quitting wasn’t an option.

Esther said times were lean but they always kept the kids fed. Their children David and Niki live close by; their daughter Roberta passed away a few years ago.

“We didn’t have a lot of things; we did things we could afford,” Esther said. “We used to have dances in the barns with the kids we grew up with – many of whom are gone now.

“We started having kids and we would both work; he would stay at home at night and watch the kids and I’d go to work at the cannery. Then I’d come home and he’d go to work.” Dave drove truck for Annen’s hop farm for awhile and always logged. Esther worked on Joe Plas’ berry farm, took care of elderly people and for several years manned Scotts Mills Market. They currently deliver Our Town to outlying areas.

“We always had meat and rice and potatoes,” Esther said. Dave was an avid hunter and Esther took the kids strawberry and bean picking and did lots of canning.

Well-wishers congratulate the Fennimores at their 60th anniversary celebration.

Well-wishers congratulate the Fennimores at their 60th anniversary celebration. Photo by Kelsi Kenfield.

“When I look back, those were good times,” she said.

“Dad would always take us hunting and fishing and we’d go crabbing and clam digging at the coast,” Niki said. “What I remember most about Dad when I was little is that he always liked to be outdoors; he taught me a lot about the outdoors.”

Gena Dibala and her husband Paul (now deceased) grew up with the Fennimores.

“We’ve been really close,” Dibala said. “We used to all go up to the Fennimore’s property and go deer hunting. Most of the women stayed in camp and did the cooking.”

Lifelong Scotts Mills residents, the projects Dave and Esther spearheaded over the years helped galvanize the community and make it a great place to live. Dave was even mayor for a time.

In 1986, Dave and Esther co-founded Scotts Mills Community Center with Bill and Peggy Barber. It has since become the meeting place for 4-H, neighborhood watch (another project of Esther’s), fund-raising car washes and more. Thursday mornings 7-10 is community coffee time and the last Sunday of every month they serve breakfast – ham, eggs and all the pancakes you can eat for $5.

“We just thought that we needed something for our little town – someplace for the kids; a place to have meetings,” Esther said. She helped get the weekly food basket distribution going and they are working on the Christmas boxes, geared to provide a family with breakfast, lunch and dinner that special day.

“Oh, I feel so for the people in this economy; I think of all the tummies that need to have food in them,” Esther said. Her perpetual motion is part of her recipe for staying young.

“You’ve got to keep going,” she said. “You’ve got to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”

In regard to marriage: “Everything’s got to be 50-50 – he’s got to agree with you and you’ve got to agree with him.”

Dave is known for the whimsical birdhouses he makes from salvaged wood. He and Esther headed for the hills to cut down trees for the log home they built in 1972.

“We built it from scratch – the plan was on a piece butcher paper,” Esther said. “We cut the logs at our friend’s place up on Crooked Finger and took them to the mill. They cut them on three sides and we brought them back here and peeled the bark off of them.”

Duda said the party honoring the couple was “like the party of the century.”

“Everybody showed up – townspeople, friends, relatives, the church community – people we hadn’t seen for years. It took quite awhile to get through the line for food, but there was plenty of it and a wonderful variety.”

Everything moved smoothly; many hands make light work.

“In our community,” Duda said. “You don’t even have to ask – they just jump in there and do it.”

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