Siouxland Stories: Wife fulfills late husband’s wish of drinking beer from 1971 for 50th anniversary

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) — This is a story of love, stretching over 50 years.

“We met in 1969, I think it was,” said Diane Nesselhuf.

And an anniversary not celebrated by a crowd with cake but rather two people and an 8 ounce can of Coors Banquet beer.

“We worked together at a camp for a year and fell in love. We were engaged on Valentine’s Day and the next year on Valentine’s Day, we got married,” Diane said.

Diane and Ed Nesselhuf married on February 14, 1971.

“Shortly after we got married, we went to Colorado. That’s where Ed’s family was from,” Diane said.

It was on that trip that the newlyweds set their sights on a celebration five decades in the distance with beer brewed with Pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water.

“You couldn’t buy Coors anywhere but Colorado. I just remember Ed pulling it out and saying, ‘We’ll drink this at our 50th Anniversary,” Diane said.

And so, it began. Even before there were children, there was that tiny can of Coors Banquet.

“It just got packed up and went with us,” added Diane.

“I probably wasn’t 10 my father telling me he assumed it will just turn to sludge. So occasionally I would shake it a little bit just to hear the liquid, flow a little bit,” said son Ben Nesselhuf.

As an ordained Lutheran pastor, Ed’s commitment took the family and the can, cross country.

“It went from Wisconsin, to Minneapolis, to British Columbia, to Rapid City, to Chamberlain, to Maryland, and back to Vermillion,” said Diane.

That’s where Ed served as campus pastor at the University of South Dakota. And where the countdown to 50 faced its toughest test.

In July 2016, Ed died after a six month fight with aggressive lung cancer, five years short of cracking that can of Coors.

“The last few weeks of his life it was clear he wasn’t going to make it to another anniversary. I did tell him that on the 50th, I’d split the beer with mom,” said Ben.

And so the countdown continued. The anticipation growing with each month that passed.

“I don’t get excited about much anymore, but I was very excited to open up this beer,” Ben said, “I think I clarified with mom many times that it is really Ok that I open this.”

It was more than OK and so, on February 14, 2021,

 “We knew it was time to drink the beer,” said Diane.

“The day of, we sat down and talked awhile about dad about Ed and our marriage the kids and what had happened over the years and we got out the Coors.

“If you never hear from us again it’s because we have botulism,” said Diane on cell phone video.

With cell phone camera at the ready, “For comparison I have a new can of Coors,” added Ben on the video.

It was finally time to make good on a promise made a half century ago.

“OK here we go, ready? It’s a big deal. I know. Still carbonated. Look at that.Looks like beer. Pretty similar. There are suds,” Ben said.

“I thought it was very tasty I was surprised. I thought it would be full of crap, but it was good,” added Diane.

Just like author Anthony Hincks once said, “Youthful pleasures last until old age, and then they become old treasures.”

Ed, surely saw this as one of them.Ben and Diane making good on that youthful promise

“It really had meaning since he was from Colorado, and you couldn’t get it anywhere else,” said Diane. “It was a good way to end that chapter. And that’s why I couldn’t do it any other day,” she added.

Ben says, “That was the 50th anniversary and any other day it would just be a beer but on that day, it was a very special beer.”

“Cheers to 50 years of great parents. Here’s to you Ed,” they said.

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