“Once a week, when you’re using Dad’s car, is about all you can squeeze out of it,” Bud said.
After a year of dating, Bud surprised Joan with a ring.
One day in July while he was visiting her in Kokomo, he drove her down a gravel road to a park by the water company. He proposed to her in the car.
“I’m not sure we were even supposed to be there,” Joan laughed. “It was private property.”
“That’s what you wanna do,” Bud said. “Go where it’s private.”
Even though they were a young couple, both Joan and Bud's parents were supportive of the marriage. In fact, Bud looked up to his parents as an example to live by. They got married when they were young, too, and were married for 65 years.
“If you’re ready to get married, and you’re with someone you like and you get along, that’s pretty much it,” Bud said. “There’s a little glow inside of you that tells you something. You either go by it or don’t go by it.”
Bud and Joan both went by the glow inside of them and were married on Oct. 23, 1953, at Kokomo Zion Church when Joan was 19 and Bud was 18.
“I loved him,” Joan said. “I loved being with him. We had a good time together. I just thought he would be somebody I’d love spending the rest of my life with. I’ve never regretted it.”
Their first home near Chili was a coal-heated house with no hot water, no indoor bathroom and a door that didn't always work. One morning, the Rife newlyweds woke up to a snow drift in their kitchen because the doors didn’t fit correctly.
“But, it was only $20 a month and I could afford that,” Bud said.