Connie & I met in San Diego California in 1976. Our first formal date was on either June 15 or June 30, 1976 and we went to the Ivy Barn located in Hotel Circle just outside of San Diego in Mission Valley. (Military payday’s were on the 15th and 30th of each month and were the only times I had any cash to speak of). Needless to say, it was during that date that I realized that this was probably going to be the woman I was destined to spend the rest of my life with.
Connie & I left San Diego in 1978 when I was working for a Caterpillar Marine Dealership and relocated to Seattle Washington to work at a different Caterpillar Dealership as a higher paid Caterpillar Marine Mechanic. It wasn’t long after I started work in Seattle when Connie & I were married at the office of a King County Justice of the Peace on September 21, 1978.
In March of 1979 Connie gave birth to our twin daughters. What a hectic time in our life that was, with our twin boys just turning 3, there was virtually no time for anything other than raising kids! Many nights we spent just wondering what the heck we got ourselves into! Since daycare would have cost more than Connie could have made at the time, she decided that she would give being a stay at home mom a try. With this, I ended up spending as much time as possible working any overtime I could in order to make ends meet financially.
Connie managed to take up a few money making hobbies that she could do at home such as: hosting Tupperware, candle, and crystal parties, and doing a little extra day care for other working moms. On top of all that, she also made crafts that she would sell at local weekend craft fairs. There were many times I remember counting spare change and putting it in envelopes in order to pay bills with. I remember having to keep the heat turned down and wearing coats inside the house during the winter because we couldn’t afford to keep the heat turned up. I remember having to take the bus to work because we couldn’t afford a second vehicle and Connie needed to have one available in case the kids needed to go to the doctor. I remember having to use cloth diapers because we couldn’t afford the throw away ones. I remember having to eat beans five nights a week (Connie was known as the Queen of Beans), and on Saturday nights having ‘Dates at Home’ with tuna casserole by candlelight after we put the kids to bed (we did this for years as our kids grew up). I also remember building rocking chairs and furniture for our kids for Christmas and birthdays because we couldn’t afford to buy them ones already made from the store. Yes, things may have at the time appeared to have been pretty tough, but it was through those times that helped transform Connie& I into who ‘We’ are today, and it was going through those times together with a vocabulary that was minus the word ‘Quit’, and strengthened by the word of God that has allowed us the opportunity to spend over a quarter of a century together!
It was during these tough times when Connie & I happened to run into an old Navy buddy of mine who moved his family to the Seattle area for a construction job (Our families crossed paths a couple times prior when Ron & Jenny Slack lived in Spokane Washington). When we finally got together with Ronnie & Jenny, Connie & I realized that they had something that we didn’t, and that what they had we wanted! We started hanging out with them on a regular basis and we all became very close (and to this day still are) best of friends. It was their friendship that was instrumental in our finding what it was that they had, and leading us to the place where we could get it. One thing that I will never forget is the patience and acceptance that they (especially Jenny – Ronnie was an ex-sub sailor and use to colorful adjectives) had for Connie & I especially since our vocabulary was somewhat comparable to that of a drunken sailor! Needless to say, on Sunday May 18, 1980 Connie & I were together at an alter call accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. The ground literally shook under our feet when we were up front together. Living in Seattle, we soon found out that Mt. St. Helens had erupted.
From that point on, our lives literally changed. Not all at once mind you, but small parts and pieces were being shaped and molded a little at a time and as I now look back it is with total amazement that to have changed from what we were back then into what we are now is nothing short of a miracle.
After spending about seven years in the Seattle area, and having to spend most of my time working on Caterpillar engines in Alaska, I was offered a position opening a new Caterpillar dealership on Kodiak Island. What was supposed to be a two year commitment turned into thirteen of the most memorable years our entire family experienced. We camped, fished, hunted, canned fish and vegetables, and enjoyed experiencing the best of what the State of Alaska had to offer. It was during this time that our family began Home Schooling, an experience that I don’t think any of us will ever forget. Our kids were also very involved in church youth groups and took Teen Mission trips to places like Australia, Mexico, the Philippines, and Ireland. It was also during this time that I decided fifteen years as a Caterpillar marine mechanic was enough and I accepted a position with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as the sole maintenance mechanic at the two million acre Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge. Our family spent five years living in government quarters at the Wildlife Refuge facility, and during this time had opportunities to explore and experience all of the wildlife and outdoor wonders Alaska’s “Emerald Island” had to offer.
When the time finally came when the last of the Lanahan kids graduated High School and left for college in the Lower 48, Connie and I decided it was time to move South to a warmer climate. As fate would have it, I ended up accepting a position in South Texas as the maintenance supervisor for the South Texas Refuge Complex which stretches over too hundred miles up the Rio Grande River from Brownsville, Texas. It was during this time that Connie was hired on as a Program Technician for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Not was it just warm down there, it was down right Hot! It was in South Texas where Connie and I bought our Harley Davidson motorcycle and began our motorcycle ministry.
After almost five years in South Texas, in January of 2002, Connie &I accepted positions working at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Washington D.C. Headquarters’ office. We spent seven years working at the “Washington Office” as Program Analysts for our programs – Connie’s being on the Budget side, and mine in Facility Management. . With the Fish & Wildlife’s Facility Management focus moving to a more automated database structure, the move to Washington was a great career move for the both of us.
In June of 2008, and after over six years in the Washington, D.C. area, Connie & I accepted positions at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Southeast Regional Headquarters’ office in Atlanta, Georgia. Connie is responsible for tracking Facility Maintenance Budgets, and I worked as the Regional Branch Chief of Facilities. The Southeast Region has over 130 National Wildlife Refuges in ten Southeast States plus Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands – many of which we have the opportunity to visit and experience.
At the end of December 2012, and after 28 years of Federal Service, I decided to retire. Connie still works as the Facility Budget Analyst at the Regional Office and plans to retire in March of 2019. We live in Middle Georgia on our 15 acre ‘Slice of Heaven’ where our days are spent mostly outside doing various projects such as hunting deer and turkey or doing food plot or yard maintenance. Many days are spent just relaxing poolside or enjoying a cool drink at our outside bar & grill.
Connie and I have been together for over 40 years, have 13 grandchildren, and a goofy little dog….. Griffin!