This article is the ninth in a series profiling couples who have been married for at least 35 years. As sociologist Mark Regnerus writes, “Young adults want to know that it’s possible for two fellow believers to stay happy together for a lifetime, and they need to hear how the generations preceding them did it.” It is also important to see that marriages are not always happy all the time, but commitment is crucial.
LIVERMORE, Calif.—Dave and Ada Dorn have done a lot of living in their almost 60 years together, but together almost didn’t happen. They met on a blind date in San Diego. Ada thought Dave was nice, but she had no interest in marriage. She wanted to work her way around the world as a traveling nurse, and Dave had just joined the Navy.
Ada took a job in Hawaii a few days after they met. Dave shipped out for Korea. He wrote to Ada nearly every day, but she had moved on. Dave requested an onshore assignment in Hawaii and came calling with an engagement ring. Surprised, she turned him down. Dave was devastated. While he persisted, she prayed, wondering if she was missing something in God’s will. She concluded she had and changed her mind.
In December 1953, they started married life together in Hawaii. They later moved to Indiana for Dave’s graduate study in physics and in 1959 settled in Livermore, Calif., where Dave worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
“God blessed us with four children along the way, and then gave us opportunities to travel,” Ada said.
Their first year in Livermore was hard. Summer temperatures topped out over 100 degrees for three weeks in a row. Dave had to go out of town while Ada and the kids went without air conditioning.
Other challenges came later. When the children reached adulthood, they called their parents “pharisees” and turned away from their church. The stress could have driven Dave and Ada apart. Instead, they drew closer to each other and to God in prayer. Relations with the children were rocky, but Dave and Ada remain in touch with each.
Dave’s assignments led to the Middle East, Europe, China, and other parts of the world. As they traveled, they made friends, met fellow Christians, and found opportunities to serve, including Lutheran Marriage Encounter. This ministry allowed them to talk about their experiences and the value of a Christ-centered marriage with couples across North and South America, Europe, and Australia.
Did Ada give up her dream of seeing the world to marry Dave? With a sparkle in her eyes she said, “No, we’ve seen the world together. God’s plan for us has been more wonderful than any I dreamed of.”