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Nursing home staff helps couple celebrate 80th wedding anniversary

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Wilma and Carl 1
Wilma and Carl Ogren, over Zoom on Thursday.

LONE TREE, Iowa (KWWL) - Carl and Wilma Ogren got married on a family farm in West Liberty in 1941. On February 23 of this year, they celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary.

"We didn't think we would make it a week," Carl said jokingly, now almost 101 years old.

The staff at Lone Tree Health Care Center helped the two celebrate in style last month, even recreating their first dance. Wilma, now 99, says her husband may have lost a step.

"Are his dance moves still any good?" facility administrator Emily McComas asked. "No, not really," Wilma said.

This joking and celebration has been lost in nursing homes across the country over the last year. In Iowa, 39% of all deaths from COVID-19 have been residents at long term care facilities.

"This year has been so challenging in many different ways. And to actually to get to celebrate something and to get to stand-in for family that couldn't be here, that was an honor for us," McComas said.

While staff at the Lone Tree center say they haven't had an outbreak, they've kept family members out of the building as a precaution.

Wilma Ogren says the only thing missing from last month's celebration was their families.

"They just come up to the windows at the nursing home," she said about their recent visits.

But centers across Iowa are partially reopening this winter and spring. Oaknoll in Iowa City resumed in-room visits in mid-February, and several centers in Cedar Falls reopened this week.

Staff in Lone Tree say their time is almost here; with a majority of staff and residents now vaccinated.

So, it sounds like loved ones will be there for the couple's next milestone, possibly Carl's 101st birthday on April 30.

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Travis Breese

Reporter, Iowa City

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