Veteran stories: A lifelong dance

KAI-HUEI YAU STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERNovember 9, 2013 

RICHLAND -- In 1952, Dale Washburn and Dottie Fisher were stationed at Fort Polk, La., which at the time was Camp Polk. They met when they attended a dance at an officers club on base, each with a different date.

"He asked me to dance and I danced with him, and that was it," she said.

They both went home with their respective dates, but Dale ended up pursuing Dottie by calling the nurses' quarters, and they started dating a few weeks later.

When Dottie told her parents about their engagement, they drove from New York to Louisiana to meet Dale.

"I passed inspection," he said.

Dale, a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, and Dottie, a first lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, got married on Nov. 15, 1952, in the Army chapel, just 45 days after they started dating.

Dale had volunteered to go to Korea, but "I think the Army figured that anybody who wants to go to Korea must be nuts, so we're not going to send him," he said.

Dottie was supposed to go, but when Dale was sent to Frankfurt, Germany, the Army kept the couple together, assigning her to the 97th General Military Hospital.

Dottie remained a nurse throughout her career, working at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland and as coordinator of Health Services for the Richland School District. She now runs a pulmonary hypertension support group.

Dale got his Ph.D. in physical metallurgy from the University of California, Los Angeles, on the G.I. Bill, and is a retired engineer from Westinghouse in Richland after managing a materials group for the Hanford site. Both are now 83 and live in Richland.

And with their 61st anniversary coming up, the obvious question is how they've made it work for so long.

"It takes a lot of patience, basically," he said

"I don't know about that. We've both been very independent about what we do. We don't do everything together and we support each other in what we're doing," she said.

"It really is independence because I don't think Dottie's ever had a fishing rod in her hand," Dale said.

"No I haven't, and I'm never going to," Dottie replied.

 

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