Jackie and Virgil Borger will celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary on Wednesday, June 23.

When the couple, who live in Baker Valley near Haines, were married, World War II had ended less than a year ago.

Harry S. Truman was president.

To celebrate three-quarters of a century together, Jackie, 94, and Virgil, 96, were joined this past weekend at their home by their two daughters, five grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildre.

“We have boneless pork ribs every year, and so the whole family looks forward to that,” Virgil said. “And then we make umpteen dozen chocolate chip cookies.”

Virgil’s mother came up with the cookie recipe more than 100 years ago. For their 70th anniversary, the couple baked 35 dozen cookies, which were gone in five days.

The Borgers’ family visits nearly every July. The kids love to attend the Fourth of July parade in Haines, and several family members have birthdays during that month. Jackie and Virgil have a decoration in their home that helps them keep track of all the birthdays and anniversaries in the family.

“If we live to 120, we could have six generations,” Virgil joked in an interview at the couple’s home on June 17.

Not quite high school sweethearts

Jackie and Virgil met in study hall at Jordan High School in Long Beach, California.

But they didn’t get together until a couple of years later when Virgil returned home on “survivor’s leave” from his service in the Philippines.

Jackie stood him up on the first date, but ended up falling for him a short while later. The Borgers were married on June 23, 1946, at a Methodist church in Long Beach.

Jackie and Virgil have traveled to the British Isles, Italy, Brazil and Hawaii, which is where Jackie was born. Virgil promised her on their wedding day that if she stayed with him for 25 years, he would take her back to Hawaii. She took him up on the offer.

The Borgers moved to Baker City when Virgil retired from his career selling dairy and poultry products in 1972. They bought their 160-acre property near Haines and have been there ever since.

The Borgers’ cozy red brick house is well lived in, with family photos lining every wall, handmade blankets passed on through generations and music playing on the TV. Virgil and Jackie prefer the music channels and game shows over politics.

“I get tired of listening to what’s going on in the politics,” Virgil said. “I’ve been told that ‘poli’ and ‘tics’ comes from a Latin word meaning many blood-sucking insects.”

The Borgers have been able to see family occasionally during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About half of their relatives live in Southern California, with the remainder in the Hermiston area.

Jackie and Virgil claim to have never had a fight, which is how they’ve been able to reach 75 years of blissful marriage. If they have a disagreement, they sit down and talk it out instead of raising their voices at each other.

“I’m a firm believer that if you love someone, you’re not gonna hurt them with words,” Virgil said. “Life’s too short.”

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