Nevada County couple celebrates 70 years together |

Nevada County couple celebrates 70 years together

Sarah Hunter
Staff Writer

Wally and Mary Krill celebrated their 70th anniversary on May 2, married at the ages of 20 and 18 respectively.

“In 1948, men were not a majority until 21,” Wally said. “So my mother had to sign for me. (Mary) was a majority at 18 — women were in 1948. So I’d been in the (Navy), went to bars and got drinks, but I could not get married. She could.”

Though they were married in Alameda, their 130-person reception was at the Nevada City Elk’s Lodge, and they honeymooned at the Nevada City National Hotel. Wally’s grandparents moved here to work in the mines, and ever since then their family has lived in Nevada County — for six generations — including Wally and Mary’s three children, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

Wally said they were equally proud of the fact that all three of their children have been married to the same person for about 44 years.

“You can’t lose your sense of humor,” Mary said, regarding advice about long-lasting relationships. “You gotta be able to laugh at yourself. You gotta be able to say ‘I’m sorry.’ You gotta say ‘I was wrong.’ And you have no opinion.”

True to her word, Mary was joking about the last one, but then got a more serious face. “And you don’t go to bed mad at night.”

Wally nodded in agreement. “The lights didn’t go out until whatever issue it was was resolved. Sometimes it was two o’clock in the morning, but it got resolved.”

Mary is set to turn 89 in August, and Wally’s 91st is in October. They attribute some of their long life and good health with the exercise they did on their tandem bicycle.

“We took the bike with us to all of our vacation sites,” Wally said. “We used to cover about 1,000 miles per vacation.”

The couple said The Union published an article with a picture of the two on their bicycle about 25 years ago.

Wally ruminated on his favorite memory in Nevada County for a long time before speaking.

“It was such a small town, everybody knew everybody,” he said. “As a kid I hated it, because the town was your keeper, as it were, because everybody knew everybody else’s kids. You couldn’t get away with anything.

“When we came back up here, our youngest was still in high school. And every once and a while, someone would say ‘Hey, I saw Roger over at so-and-so at 10 o’clock,’ so he’d come home at night, and I’d say ‘What were you doing?’ and he’d say ‘How did you know I was there?!’ When you raise a family in a small town, you have a lot of babysitters. For the kids, it drove us crazy, but as a parent it’s great — it was all great, I don’t know what my favorite was — oh, it was probably skinny dipping in Deer Creek!”

The Krills took a trip down memory lane, remembering how the merchants lobbied for the highway to go through Nevada City instead of around it to make sure the city didn’t disappear. They talked about how Empire Mine was saved by older rich folk who didn’t want it to disappear when the state had no money to make it a park, and how residents sold dynamite during the Gold Rush to the entirety of the west coast, including Hawaii.

They may not have seen it all in their 70 years together, but they’ve sure seen a lot.

Sarah Hunter is a University of Nevada journalism student and intern with The Union. Contact her at

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