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Valentine pen-pals: Couple has farm journal to thank

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of love stories, leading to the day for lovers, Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.)

Staff writer

In the summer of 1984, Farm Journal Magazine published an article about the difficulties single farmers had in finding romance. The magazine asked readers to submit a paragraph and contact information for a directory to help relieve the problem.

Milford and Janell Klaassen of Hillsboro have that article to thank as they prepare for their 22nd Valentine’s Day as husband and wife.

The Klaassens were among the readers who responded. Milford grew up in Hillsboro, and Janell Schmidt grew up in Goessel, but they had never met.

Janell spent about three hours with a friend getting just the right wording for her paragraph. Milford said he finished his in five minutes.

The magazine published the directory in 1985, with people from all over the country.

Milford initiated the correspondence. Janell said she was unsure of responding, because he hadn’t mentioned his height in his entry, and she didn’t want someone she would tower over. She is a bit taller than Milford, though.

After writing each other for a while, they started seeing each other. Milford proposed Jan. 25, 1986, and they were married June 21 that year.

“It was the longest day of the year,” Janell said.

“I farmed at that time, so I finished cutting wheat Thursday night,” Milford said. “Rehearsal was Friday night, and the wedding was Saturday night.”

They started a mowing business together more than 20 years ago.

For their 20th anniversary, their son arranged a surprise party with their families. He kept the Klaassens busy long enough to get everything set up and the yard decorated to look like Hawaii. Milford said he didn’t realize what was going on until they pulled into their driveway.

They credit their lasting marriage to several qualities.

“You got to have a good sense of humor,” Milford said.

They also share goals and enjoy working together, Janell said.

The Klaassens have two children, 20-year-old Angela and 17-year-old Michael.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2009

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