It was love at first sight for Bob and Lois Crerar.
And it is a love has lasted for more than seven decades.
The Langley couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at a party in South Surrey on Saturday, Oct. 12. But the pair really didn’t recognize the magnitude of their accomplishment, said their daughter, Susan Miller, until she pointed out to them just how rare such celebrations are.
The couple met at a high school dance in Nelson, B.C. during the Great Depression.
Bob had already graduated, but had returned to the school, which Lois still attended, for the dance.
The moment he spotted her at the other side of the gymnasium, Bob was done for.
“I remember asking, ‘Who’s that dish across the way?’
“As sure as I’m sitting here, I said to myself, ‘That’s the girl I’m going to marry.’”
So he and his friend — who had also spotted Lois — began to make their way over. But while his buddy went the long way around, Bob cut across the dance floor and got there first.
Not that it would have been much of a contest. Lois had already heard about Bob Crerar, and was anxious to go out with him.
After the couple had dated for short time, Bob knew he needed to think about his future.
Although he’d been born in Rossland, B.C., both of his parents were Americans.
So, in 1940, 20-year-old Bob signed up with the U.S. Navy, in a little town in eastern Washington called Opportunity, just down the road from his uncle’s farm.
His goal was to attend the Naval corp medical school, which he did, eventually graduating second in his class.
Then the U.S. was drawn into the Second World War. Bob was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, though his destroyer, the USS Cummings, sustained little damage.
Lois waited in Canada for Bob until he got leave and they were able to marry in California on Oct. 14, 1943.
Ten days later, he shipped out once again and Lois was left to wait, and worry.
The couple kept in touch through daily letters — which came in bundles as Bob was able to post them, and which Lois has kept to this day.
Although he couldn’t tell her outright where he was, Bob and Lois developed a code, using two copies of a map and the numbers and letters that formed its grid, to share information which she then passed along to his parents.
After the war, Bob’s military career took the growing family to California, Washington State, Virginia and Japan. He also served in the Korean War before retiring from the military, in the late 1960s.
The family then moved to Toronto, where Bob operated a medical supply company for 36 years.
In 2002, they came to Langley.
Today, Bob, 94, and Lois, 91, have four children — three daughters and a son — 10 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren, with one more on the way.
“So we’ve done our part,” quipped Bob.
“She’s the real hero,” added the war veteran, with an affectionate nod toward his wife.
“Don’t forget to put that in.”