North

Hay River couple celebrates 57th anniversary with 'a good shot of whisky'

This love story starts in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., in 1961.

Here’s to 57 years, 6 children, 5 hectares, and a single shot of whisky

Jean, 76, and Daryl Dobbs, 74, with their wedding photo from March 1, 1962. (Kirsten Murphy/CBC)

Jean Dobbs smiles when thinking about Fort McPherson, N.W.T., in 1961.

It's the year the shy 18-year-old laid eyes on her future husband, Daryl Dobbs.

"All the girls in McPherson were chasing after him and I thought, 'who I am to catch [someone] like that?' So I just stayed at home," the now 76-year-old Jean says.

But the Aklavik-born, Gwich'in girl won his heart.

A year later, the handsome groom, who was two years younger, and his blushing teen bride were married on March 1, 1962 in Inuvik.

Jean wore a wedding dress borrowed from her sister-in-law. To cover a stain, Jean dyed the frilly gown a pale blue. Her sister was married in the same dress a couple years later. Decades later in the Dobbs' faded wedding photo, the dress has taken on a greenish hue.

Anniversaries have always been a special occasion for the Hay River couple. (Submitted by Jean and Daryl Dobbs)

Looking back, the young couple expected their love would last, even though they say they've had their "ups and downs" over the years. Jean's mom had her doubts about the marriage, but her dad was sure.

"He said, 'You've got a good man here. You better take good care of him,'" Jean says of her protective father.

You've got to take it one year at a time.- Daryl Dobbs

The couple moved from Fort McPherson to a five-hectare piece of land in Paradise Gardens on the outskirts of Hay River in 1971, where they remain today.

While Jean stayed home to raise their six children, Daryl worked different jobs, including as a heavy equipment operator, pipe fitter, river guide and cook.

He is best known locally as the owner and operator of the custom cabinet business Sunrise Cabinets and Millworks which he ran out of Enterprise for years.

The Dobbs are proud grandparents and great grandparents of eight offspring who are living across the country, and as far west as Alaska.

Daryl, 74, says family life is about compromise and commitment.

"The one thing I said is, 'if we get married, we are not going to get divorced.' That's it. It is for life," he says.

The Dobbs and their 6 children. The Dobbs are celebrating their marital milestone with a special family dinner later this month. (Submitted by Jean and Daryl Dobbs)

Close calls during relationship

Times have changed, but their love has stayed the same — the Dobbs continue to do everything together, including hunting, gathering wood, growing potatoes and visiting friends.

But there have been some close calls. In 1981, Daryl developed diphtheria and was given two months to live. He credits alternative medicine, his faith as a Jehovah's Witness and his wife's love with keeping him alive.

"You've got to take it one year at a time," Daryl says of their 60th diamond anniversary in three years.

"You never know what tomorrow is going to bring," adds Jean.

The Dobbs are celebrating their marital milestone with a special family dinner later this month.

On Friday, they plan to privately toast their 57 years together.

"With a good shot of whisky" Daryl says, and they both laugh.

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