A Year To Remember

Valley Couple Reflects As 75th Anniversary Nears

Posted: November 9, 2013

Charles Wampler Jr. and his wife Dorothy will celebrate their 75th anniversary on Tuesday. The Wamplers were pioneers in the Valley’s poultry industry. (Photos by Holly Marcus / Special to DN-R)
A photo of the couple is on display in their Dayton home.
Charles Wampler Jr. and his wife Dorothy of Harrisonburg will celebrate their 75th anniversary on Nov. 12th.
Charles Wampler Jr. and his daughter Barbara Melby talk about the changes they’ve seen in the Valley. Charles Wampler and his wife Dorothy will be celebrating their 75th anniversary on Tuesday.
After 75 years of marriage, Dorothy Wampler and her husband Charles Wampler can’t name many particular challenges or arguments. Their daughter Barbara Melby said it’s not that they didn’t face difficulties, they just didn’t see them that way.
DAYTON — Close to 80 years ago, teenagers Charles Wampler Jr. and Dorothy Liskey were judged the healthiest boy and healthiest girl among all the Rockingham County 4-H clubs.

“Every club in the county, they would have what they called a big get together and they had a bunch of contests,” Wampler said last week at the age of 97.

After the pair was judged and declared the winners, Wampler knew he’d found a mate.

“I just decided that was a good female to mother my children,” Wampler said.

Charles was active in the Dayton 4-H raising turkeys, his father having started the first hatchery in the turkey industry at Wampler Feed and Seed Company.

Charles, who in 1927 was following around his father’s turkeys to collect their eggs for the first indoor turkey hatchery at 1 cent per egg — thus jumpstarting the modern turkey trade — was born on Thanksgiving.

Dorothy, now 96, participated in sewing and cooking at the club. Her main project, though, so says her husband, was “to get me.”

She nodded in happy, nostalgic agreement, Wednesday as they drew close to their 75th wedding anniversary, which they will celebrate on Tuesday.

After their marriage on Nov. 12, 1938, the Wamplers went on to have three daughters, Libby Jarrett, 73, of Lynchburg, Barbara Melby, 70, of Mauzy, and Margaret Smith, 68, of Broadway; eight grandchildren, nine great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
The Wamplers have lived their married life within a mile of where Charles grew up on his father, Charles Wampler Sr.’s, property on Sunny Slope Lane outside of Dayton, which is still in the family today.

As the Wampler turkey production grew, Charles moved up in the family business, eventually becoming the main stakeholder.

With Charles at work, his wife, who goes by Dot, raised the kids, but also painted portraits, owned a craft shop and wrote a book of poetry. A local publisher printed “Motherhood to Menopause” in limited edition.

“I sat down and just wrote it; had never any intention to publish it,” she said.

Melby described her mother’s poems as being about life as a wife and mother, but also broader subjects, such as religion.

“Some were irreverent at times,” Melby said, eliciting a shy, mischievous smile from her mother’s face.

Wampler participated in numerous boards and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1954 to 1966. While Dorothy Wampler occupied herself with her own activities, she always was hostess to business associates and mutual friends.

They said having separate interests was one of their strengths as a couple.

“She would make a picture and I would admire it. If I got an important job like being part of the state legislature, she was proud of me,” he said.
After 75 years, the Wamplers couldn’t name any particular challenges or arguments, except one that continued for decades.
Charles Wampler likes the toilet paper to roll from the top and Dorothy likes it to roll from the bottom.

“That’s the only fight that I ever won,” Wampler said.

But generally, he said, they listened to each other, which might have kept a debate or an argument from becoming “a knock down drag out fight.”

“We were very compatible because I always did what she said,” Wampler said satisfied.

“He’s very easy to get along with,” Dorothy said.

Melby said it’s not that her parents didn’t face difficulties. It’s just that they didn’t see them that way.

“I think my mom and dad accepted things as they came along,” Melby said. “I don’t think they ever thought of things as a challenge. You just did what had to be done.”

Contact Alex Rohr at 574-6293 or arohr@dnronline.com

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