Moments to Cherish

Dick and Jan Huseby recall the path that led them from friendly rivalry to wedding bliss.

On a lovely autumn afternoon in 1968, Dick Huseby and Jan Krueger were walking across the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus, where Jan was an undergraduate, biding their time before a concert by the pop group The Association at Quandt Fieldhouse. Beforehand, the couple were privy to an opening act that Dick secretly hoped would steal the show. On a stone bench outside Old Main, he asked Jan to be his wife. “Without hesitation, I said ‘yes,’” says Jan. The concert took on a decidedly celebratory air after that, plus it gave the prospective bride and groom a tune they would come to think of as “our song” for years to come—the aptly titled “Cherish.”


The love story between Dick and Jan Huseby proves that sometimes it really does pay to keep your friends close and your “frenemies” closer.

Growing up in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, Jan and Dick found themselves going head-to-head in high school—often. “Jan and I were never enemies,” Dick recalls, “but we competed against one another for class ranking and for officer positions in organizations like the student council.”

“My impression of Dick was that he was very successful, academically and athletically, and I wanted to compete with him,” adds Jan.

While they respected each other, being in opposition straight through to graduation seemed to have negated any chance of a romance developing between the two. In fact, Jan reportedly once told her mother that she wouldn’t marry Dick if he was the last man on earth.

Upon graduation from Tomahawk High in 1967, Dick enrolled at Ripon College, where he majored in chemistry, with a math minor, and joined the ROTC, while Jan attended UWSP. The former competitors would see each other around town when they were home on break, but otherwise did not remain in touch.

That changed during the spring semester of 1968, when Dick’s ROTC unit held its annual military ball. “For some reason, still unknown to me today, I decided to write Jan a letter and ask her to the ball,” Dick says. “I certainly could have asked young ladies on the Ripon campus, but for some reason I just felt the need to ask Jan.”

Later that spring, Dick asked Jan to accompany him to the Beta Sigma Pi rush party at Ripon. Each has clarified that they attended such events as friends, but something was bubbling beneath the surface.

“Prior to becoming romantically involved, Jan and I became great friends,” says Dick. “I kissed her on the forehead for almost a year. Over time our common understanding of our goals and shared values simply brought us to the point of being engaged. It  happened quietly, based on a foundation of mutual love and respect for each other and those we were blessed to know. We knew each other so well, no secrets, no pretense.”

Dick’s proposal was simple and traditional. He remembers being surrounded by “beautiful flowers” that warm day as he got down on one knee in front of Jan, who was sitting on the Old Main bench. Jan explains why she said “yes” to the man she had vowed to never marry. “There was something so lovingly honest about this wonderful young man,” she says.

With Dick still a Ripon student and Jan in Stevens Point, they began their engagement as a longish-distance couple. Dick wrote almost daily. (“Remember, this was the age of pay phones and letters,” he says.) By the Spring 1969 semester, he had transferred to UWSP, changing his major to psychology, with a minor in English. “I was a resident assistant at Burroughs Hall and Jan was a ‘Neale Nelly,’” he adds.

The couple married on August 23, 1969 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Tomahawk. Each recalls Jan walking down the aisle to Dick waiting at the altar as their favorite memory from that day. Immediately following the reception, the pair left for Mackinac Island. Their honeymoon was not an especially protracted affair, however, as the bride and groom had to get back to the UWSP campus; Dick needed to continue his studies, and Jan was set to begin her new role as secretary of the university’s Drama Department. “That was an exciting time,” says Jan, “to have played a supporting role in the planning of the new Fine Arts building.”

The newlyweds managed to carve out time for each other by going on dates that were sometimes more utilitarian than romantic. “Early in our marriage, date night was going to the laundromat,” Jan confesses. Dick also recalls spending time together grocery shopping, particularly once their first child, Eric, was born in 1970. (The Husebys are also parents to daughter Julie and another son, Ryan.) Yet there also were occasional nights out at the movies, playing cards or board games with friends and driving out to Stevens Point Municipal Airport for dinner and a show: eating burgers while watching planes taxiing along the runways.

Upon Dick’s graduation from UWSP in 1972, he transitioned from ROTC second lieutenant to active duty officer in the United States Army. The Husebys moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where Dick was stationed as a personnel psychologist. It was the first of many moves they would make in support of Dick’s career.

“Dick’s enrollment in ROTC assured us of military duty immediately upon graduation,” says Jan. “Wherever life would take us, we wanted to be together and married. We were young and naïve—the son of humble farmers and the daughter of a funeral director. We were excited about this new life adventure.”

While on active duty, Dick completed his teacher certification through the University of Southern Connecticut before receiving an honorable discharge from the Army in 1974. He taught for two years at Tomahawk Junior High School, and later joined Church Mutual Insurance Company in Merrill, Wisconsin, retiring as the company’s vice president of human resources and strategic initiatives in 2015. More than a decade of service in the U.S. Army Reserve coincided with his teaching and corporate careers.

Jan spent the early years of their marriage caring for their home and children. Over the years she has augmented her two years of study at UWSP—she received an associate degree from the university in 2008—with advanced studies in music performance (piano), liturgy and composition. “I have enjoyed a gratifying career in sacred music,” she says, having served as the director of music and liturgy at St. Mary’s, where she and Dick were married, and as an accompanist for a national choir, traveling with them on six European concert tours.

These days, the Husebys find themselves once again spending a fair amount of time together at airports, but not as mere spectators. “Travel is one of our favorite activities,” says Jan. “We love to explore other countries and cultures.” They have traveled to Europe, cruised to the Caribbean and Alaska, and enjoyed family vacations with their children and grandchildren in locales such as Mexico and Jamaica.

They also enjoy the simpler things in life, such as attending the grandkids’ music and sporting events, and spending time together at home with their family. “Our greatest joy is to have our children and grandchildren sharing food and memories around our dining room table,” Dick says.

“Our deepest pride is seeing how our three children have met life’s challenges with such strength and integrity,” Jan adds. “They are the legacy of our story.”

Enjoying many of the same things and maintaining certain core values—“including honesty, faith, trust, aspiring to our fullest potential, and family first, always,” according to Jan—have kept the Husebys together all these years, and made their marriage stronger. But their differences have played a role in that regard as well.

“We are both strong,” remarks Jan, “but in different ways. Dick is an extrovert, while I am an introvert. He thinks more strategically, while my thinking is more influenced by my emotions. Our differences can be challenging, but our marriage is strengthened by a ‘both’ approach, rather than ‘either/or.’”

“Marriage is a dance,” agrees Dick. “Sometimes you need to lead and sometimes you need to follow.” He advises young couples just starting out to get good at performing both roles.

Jan’s advice for Pointer couples is to “spend some time together on the bench in front of Old Main. It’s magical!”

Harkening back to the day of their engagement himself, Dick says, “I cherish her today as much as I did on the day I proposed.”