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A marriage milestone for Clackamas couple

Can any other Clackamas residents say they celebrated 70 years of marriage last month?

by: PHOTO BY: VERN UYETAKE - Bill and Janet Tripp recently attended a party to mark their 70th wedding anniversary.When Bill Tripp first knew Janet Wievesiek, she was a sophomore at West Linn High School. He was a senior there — and he had his eye on a classmate of hers.

“I’d been going with one of the girls in her class,” he said. That relationship did not last, however.

After Bill graduated in 1939, and Janet in 1941, the two became a couple. They were married Sept. 19, 1943.

“It’s been a nice, long marriage,” Janet, 89, said.

Reflecting on the secret of that long marriage, husband Bill, 92, had a simple answer.

“I just fell in love with her, that’s all,” he said. “It’s a wonderful life.”

Bill was born in Eugene in 1921 and moved with his family to his grandmother’s house in Jennings Lodge in 1927. Born in Oregon City Hospital in 1924, Janet lived with her family in West Linn, about where Bolton Primary School is now.

Because West Linn’s high school was one of the only secondary schools in the area, it attracted students from all over the region. According to Bill, the school’s name changed frequently to reflect its changing population.

“At the time I was going, I went to West Linn Union High School, Oswego-West Linn High School and West Linn High School,” he said. “I had letterman sweaters that said them all.”

Because students came to the school from all over, nearly everyone came by bus, Janet said. Recreation opportunities for teenagers were limited in the area, the Tripps said, but for students living in West Linn, the campus did offer some attractions, including a tennis court. It was paved with cement and smaller than legal size, but that didn’t matter.

“All the kids thought that was the best thing ever,” Janet said.

Other sports options were less attractive.

“When I played football there it was just a wet, muddy mess,” Bill said. “They finally got a stadium there when I was a junior or senior.”

Although there were sports options for girls, Janet didn’t participate in them.

“I was active in the home economics department and music,” she said. At the time, the school had a “pretty good-size band. Music was my thing.”

“May Day was always the thing we looked forward to all year,” she said. “I played the marimbaphone. They didn’t have one when I went there but they got one.”

A marimbaphone is similar to today’s marimbas. However, its hollow steel bars could be rotated, so that in addition to playing with mallets the musician also could play with a bow.

After Janet graduated in 1941, she enrolled in college. By that time, Bill had joined the Air Force, where he served stateside.

They lived in Texas for several years after their 1943 marriage. “When we got out of the service we lived with Janet’s parents for several years, on Portland Avenue,” which is now called Highway 43 or Willamette Drive. Eventually, the family bought land near the high school and settled down to raise their family.

Bill sold insurance and was a longtime Rotarian. Janet was what Bill called “a mother hen” to their two sons, as well as a series of foreign exchange students. Their son Gary, born in 1945, lives nearby in Clackamas, while Craig, born in 1948, lives in New Mexico. Like their parents, both are graduates of WLHS.

When their sons were grown, Bill and Janet sold their land to the school district, which annexed it to the high school campus. Part of that land became known as the high school’s Tripp parking lot.

Bill and Janet now live together in an assisted living apartment in Clackamas. Although they have downsized to a small apartment, they still have Bill’s yearbooks and an assortment of artifacts from their high school years, including the medals Janet was awarded for attending music competitions around and outside the state.




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