By Shawn Nowlin
Congratulations are in store for Salem residents Fredric and Carolyn Eichelman as well as Loren and Barbara Walker, as both couples are celebrating their wedding anniversary this month.
When Loren and Barbara got married in 1961, it was in Roanoke City. For the last 45 years, they have called Salem home. While Barbara is known for her homemade sweet pickles, unique quilts and sense of humor, Loren still enjoys home improvement and outdoor activities such as biking. Active members of Salem Presbyterian Church, the Walkers have three daughters, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“I live near Atlanta while my siblings live near Chicago and San Diego, respectively. Given COVID-19, their health, age and distance, we all collectively decided to not do a gathering this year,” said their daughter Linda. “Our entire family is forever grateful for Loren and Barbara’s legacy of love, stability and faithfulness.”
After six decades together, Fred says that he and his wife are still making memories. “Both of us have had many shared interests covering a range of things, from education, working in projects to improve the media to be more faith and family friendly, community involvement to being active in our church and animal rescue. Above everything, we are friends and teammates and treat each other accordingly,” he said.
Both Fred and Carolyn, 86, worked as educators for over 40 years. After starting her career teaching pre-school at Total Action Against Poverty (TAP), Carolyn retired as a Salem teacher. Fred taught in schools in Vinton, Cave Spring, North County and Salem.
Occasionally, they will run into a former student. “It usually happens when we are getting into our car,” Carolyn said. “I’ve taught countless students over the years, and it does my heart well to see them all grown up with families of their own.”
Life today is vastly different from what it was when Fred and Carolyn got married. In 1960, the U.S. population was approximately 180 million. Today, that number is around 329 million. Sixty-one years ago, gas was $0.31 per gallon. That number today is roughly $2.97 per gallon. The average price of a home back then was $11,900 compared to $325,000 in 2021.
The two understand how blessed they are to have survived the COVID-19 pandemic together. “We took various precautions to be extra safe,” Fred said. “There were many couples who did the same. However, they were not as fortunate. We are incredibly grateful to live through the pandemic.”
The Eichelmans have two children, five grandchildren and just welcomed their first great-grandchild. Carol Webster, their oldest child, is a drama teacher and director at William Byrd High and Burton Center for Performing Arts.
Both have the same advice for a lasting and successful marriage. “It sounds cliché, but remembering your commitment to each other, communicating respectfully, being willing to learn while keeping God first are the ingredients to a fulfilling marriage,” Fred said with his wife right by his side. “It’s really that simple.”