Stages of Love: Binding love

Editor’s Note: More than 137 years ago, my great grandparents Amand and Estelle Fey received “The Stages of Love” as a wedding present. That sweet series of five painted postcards hung in their house for 68 years, until Estelle died at 87 and Amand followed two weeks later. He was 90.

My mom loved the artwork as a child and brought it home with her after her grandpa’s funeral. She has hung it on the wall of every house she has lived in ever since. In fact, it’s hanging there now.

I saw it as I visited recently, and I thought it would make a perfect series for this blog.

So, for five posts, I’m going to write about C. Clyde Squires’ five stages of love. They are: Mother Love, Puppy Love, Accepted Love, Binding Love and Undying Love. On last Monday I covered Mother Love. Wednesday, I wrote about Puppy Love, Friday was Accepted Love and today I am featuring:

Binding Love

It’s hard to say what binds two people together in this old world. Passion? Humor? Children? A spontaneous nose tweak?

For John Debrauske and his wife Lavonne it was all of those things.

Mr. Debrauske, who will turn 90 in March, spotted his sweetheart nearly 70 years ago on a bar stool in Menomonie, Wisconsin.

“I went up to her and I said, ‘You must be the new girl in town,”” he said. “I actually tweaked her nose. She didn’t slap me. So, I said,’Would you like to go to a movie with me Saturday night?’ And she said yes. She caught my eye because she was so pretty.”

No slouch himself, Mr. Debrauske was a well-respected student athlete at UW Stout (known then at Stout Institute) when he approached Lavonne.

Apparently, the Saturday night date went well and the future Lavonne Debrauske turned out to be a perfect match for him. Bright, resourceful, fun and adventurous, they were both excellent partners on the dance floor and at the bridge table.

The Debrauskes enjoyed 66 years of marriage during which they raised four kids, two remarkable statistics given that Mr. Debrauske barely survived the birth of their oldest daughter, Pam.

“When she went into labor I was so nervous I fainted,” he said.

A foot shorter than her husband, Mrs. Debrauske enjoyed an equal relationship with him as the couple made their way from Menomonie to Indiana to Iowa to Sheboygan following work opportunities.

A former drum major, she worked for the Farm and Home Administration in Menomonie, the legislature in Des Moines and as a book keeper in Sheboygan. He taught industrial arts and driver’s ed, an educator for 40 years.

“She had a great smile,” he said. “I always said she could have melted steel with that smile.”

Lavonne passed away in October of 2018, but her smile lives on. You can see it in her children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

You can also see it reflected in Mr. Debrauske’s eyes when he talks about his lifelong love and in the pictures she left behind.

They look like kids in this picture because they pretty much were. Lavonne and John married in July of 1952 and enjoyed 66 years together.
Here they are with their best man and maid of honor.
And the whole wedding party. The Debrauske family is known for its marriage longevity. John’s sister Carol and her husband Al will be celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary in May. Carol and John’s parents Stanley and Marie were married for more than 60 years as well.
John and Marie at their 60th wedding anniversary.
John and Lavonne loved to play cards. This is them in January of 2018 with their sons Tom and Mark and the Biskupic brothers, Vince and Steve. The guys still get together several times a year for Sheepshead. John and Vince Biskupic Sr. (Steve and Vince’s dad) were lifelong friends who met growing up in Sheboygan.

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