Love at first sight may be a myth. But for Delores and Leonard Goering – better known as Dee and Len — it didn’t take long to realize they were meant to be.
Dee had the good fortune to be sitting in front of Len’s brother and his girlfriend at a Bethel College basketball game versus McPherson College when Len came over to visit. There was no room next to his brother, so Len sat in the empty spot on the bleachers next to Dee, who played trombone in the Bethel pep band.
“It seemed like there was something there. We just connected right then; it was funny,” Dee said. “We both had to admit later on, we both felt that way. He had such an outgoing personality, and he was so friendly and nice.”
Len’s feelings were similar, “I was drawn to her smile and fun personality.”
With regret, Dee assumed she would never see the young man from McPherson again. Then, at Christmas break, she got a letter from the brother’s girlfriend asking if she would like to double date with them and Len for New Year’s Eve. The boys’ parents were having a party. “We just had a grand time at their house,” she said. “He has 15 brothers and sisters, so he was kind of worried I’d be overwhelmed with all these people. But it didn’t bother me a bit.”
After that, the two couples double-dated every time Len came to Newton. “We had so much fun; the four of us just really clicked,” Dee said. They dated for about two years and were married in September 1955.
Len became an elementary school teacher, and the couple had four children – three sons and one daughter, the youngest. They have lived in Newton for most of their marriage. They moved to Newton Presbyterian Manor about a year ago. “We just love it here. It’s been a really good place to be,” Dee said.
The Goerings celebrated their 60th anniversary with an open house in the fall of 2015. They now have eight grandchildren, and their third great-grandchild was just born on New Year’s Day.
Dee said their relationship has succeeded in part because she and Len shared many of the same values, as Mennonites. “It was always important to give and take. Really we just had a very happy marriage,” she said. “Our kids always say we gave them a good home.”
Who knows? Maybe love at first sight is real after all.