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Caulkins celebrate 70th
Dorothy and Ralph Caulkins of Ceres celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary on July 11. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

Longtime Ceres residents Ralph and Dorothy Caulkins celebrated their 70th anniversary on July 11.

The couple met when Ralph, a 1943 graduate of Ceres High School, was serving in the Navy and was training at a radar school set up on the campus of Manley High School in Chicago. One day Ralph walked into a serviceman's center blocks away and spotted Dorothy Ward who was a volunteer who played the piano and sang church hymns and visited with homesick sailors. Ralph was invited to Sunday morning services where Dorothy's father, Harold Ward, served as head deacon. Mr. Ward later invited Ralph and other sailors home for lunch. There Dorothy and Ralph became acquainted. Ralph was shipped off to Bliss Electrical School in Washington, D.C. but the couple kept in touch through correspondence. Dorothy studied at Northwestern Bible School in Minneapolis, Minn.

He returned to Chicago and proposed to her in December 1945. They were married on July 11, 1946 in Chicago. The Caulkins made Ceres their home, living in the same Roeding Road house where he was born on June 15, 1925 to Ellis J. and Merle Veach Caulkins. Ellis was a son of William Orvil and Mary Emma Whittier Caulkins who came to Ceres from Nebraska by train in 1903.

The couple say the marriage has been very peaceful and that they rarely have any disagreements.

"We just get along well," said Dorothy.

The couple later got out on their own, living on Eighth Street in Ceres, and later moved to San Jose where he studied at college but later came to live on the Caulkins rural homestead. Ralph taught wood shop classes at a school in Patterson and in Escalon before deciding that he wasn't cut out for the profession. He became a bookkeeper and then worked for Milk Producers Association in Modesto. While he was in his 50s, Ralph retired to take over the family farm from his father Ellis Caulkins. Dorothy worked 18 years as a teacher's aide at Ceres High School, retiring in 1991.

The marriage produced five children. Paul came along in 1951. Norman followed in 1954, Wayne in 1956, Phillip in 1961 and Mary Jean in 1963.