Former Whitefish residents, Don and Tootie Hyer recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary at their home in Green Valley, Arizona. Their love story began after the war ended and they married on Sept. 7, 1947 in Richmond, Indiana.
Don interrupted his college years to serve in the United States Air Force during WWII where he served until the war ended in 1945. Following his discharge, he was able to resume his studies on the GI Bill at Indiana University. To help pay for his meals Don took a job as a server or “hasher” in the girls dormitory cafeteria. It was there that he met Tootie and was immediately smitten by her cheerful personality and beautiful smile. Tootie had her eye on him too and kept forgetting her meal punch card “on purpose” so she would have to remain at the end of the line while Don checked the lists for her name. He was on to her after this happened a few times so he asked her out on a date and they have been by each other’s side ever since.
After a few months of college romance Don cashed in the GI war bonds he’d earned to buy an engagement ring. His frat brothers included several singers from the IU choral group so they garnered the fraternity firetruck and parked it outside the girl’s dormitory. The ladder was extended to Tootie’s second floor window and Don climbed up, presented her with the ring and popped the question. All while the choral group sang ‘big band tunes’ from the front lawn below.
After a summer internship as a geologist in Montana and all sorts of hitch-hiking and rail riding travel to get back to Indiana, Don arrived in time to join Tootie and get married just days before the beginning of the fall semester when Don would pursue his master’s degree in geology. Student housing at IU was scarce following the return of the GI’s from the war so all kinds of temporary housing had to be implemented. The newlyweds began married life in their 18-foot trailer home in an IU campus park.
Don graduated and went on to begin a long and successful career with Texaco. As he advanced with the company the growing family would move all over the U.S. and Canada including New York, Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas and Calgary. The 50s would see the family expanding every two years. Mark, the first of their four children was born in Indiana followed by Ann and Linda in New Orleans and Gary in Lafayette, Louisiana.
During the 70s when the family was in Calgary, the Hyers bought a “new” condo in Bay Point and came to Whitefish every chance they had until Don transferred back to Houston to finish out his career as an executive for Texaco. After another eight years, the couple returned to Whitefish to build their retirement home. They also continued the plans with their other Whitefish partners for a new neighborhood development which became Suncrest. Don and his partners also began preliminary plans to develop a new golf course on the adjacent land which they later sold to the developers of Iron Horse.
Don and Tootie both appreciate the blessings of a loving marriage filled with adventures, health, laughter, optimism and a happy family. Together they have 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Along with their 70th wedding anniversary celebration, Don and Tootie share the same birthdate and on Oct. 28 they will turn 92 and 91. They have enjoyed well wishes from family and the many friends they made throughout the years.