Now in their 90s, veteran couple Ray and Thelma Destobel have happily called Creston home for decades.
The couple has shared countless milestones during 78 years of marriage. And on Nov. 25, Ray will celebrate the biggest one yet – his 100th birthday.
“Here we are together all these years later,” he said.
In 1944, the two were married followed by a very short honeymoon. Only 36 hours later, Ray was shipped overseas to serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
While he was deployed, Thelma joined the RCAF Women’s Division herself. She completed basic training in Kitchener, Ont. and then went on to serve as a cook at Camp Borden.
The two were reunited from their time apart in 1945. From there, Ray spent another 30 years in the service. His family travelled with him to wherever he was stationed.
“We traveled many, many places,” he said. “The most enjoyable part was our four years spent in Germany.”
After moving back to the Kootenays, they dedicated much of their time to community service. Since 1980, they have both been great supporters of the Creston Legion, where Thelma served several terms as president.
“Ray joined the Legion first, but I’m more of a socializer, so before I knew it I was involved too,” she said.
Not only that, she was a volunteer with the Creston Valley Hospice Society for over 30 years, where she would often sit at the beside of the terminally ill for hours at a time. She also served as president with the former Hospital Auxillary, which raised funds with the Tuck Shop.
After many years of volunteer activities, the Destobels slowed down and fully retired.
“I really enjoyed my time working with so many wonderful people,” said Thelma. “I really hated to leave.”
The couple still lives in Creston, in the same house they’ve owned for 50 years. Together, they share three daughters, five grandchildren, eight grand-children, and four great-great-grandchildren.