The Year of the Weddings

Sam and Darlene Scar

Darlene Wilson was married before the war, in 1941, to Sam Scar who farmed with his dad near Earlham, Iowa. Her father-in-law had built a new little house for himself and his wife on the same farm, so Darlene and Sam started out in the big old house, which was once part of the Underground Railroad system in Iowa.

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Sam and Darlene Scar, March 1941

Delbert and Donald Wilson, both in the Navy, both with their share of combat and the war, had pretty much vowed they wouldn’t get married until after the war. They were at sea so much, and the oceans were very dangerous–the Atlantic and the Pacific.

But after surviving the sinking of the Yorktown at Midway and returning to the west coast on the crippled California, Donald got a furlough. While he was home near Minburn, Iowa, he got mail with hearts on it! After returning to the ship, Donald wrote home Christmas Day, “Well, I’ve the duty on board here today. Just completed a real Christmas dinner. Trying to settle it now. Been going over to the big city pretty regular. I guess you can figure why! Trying to figure out if it’s love. It must be something not far from it, if it isn’t. Trying to figure out whether I should wait till after the war (if ever) or now. Sure is a tough one to face. I’d rather go into battle!”

Just a gamble, like everything else, he said. The “here today, gone tomorrow” lifestyle isn’t good for a marriage, and he liked traveling too much to stay put.


But in January 1943, Donald got married after all, to a west coast woman who was thirty-one. He’d known her only a couple of months.“I think I was fortunate,” he wrote home, “ in getting a woman of middle age, for the simple reason that a teenage one, say, would be out finding out what it’s all about while I’m out to sea. You of course always figured you’d see your son married to some sweet sixteen year old and farming. Well, I did, too—once. That was ten years ago.”

Rose and Donald Wilson, January 1943.

His mother, Leora, hoped he hadn’t been trapped into marriage, but calmed down once she read Rose’s friendly letters and got to meet her. Leora even wrote another son that, even though Rose was unusual because she liked to go hunting, she would be perfect if she didn’t smoke.

Warren and Doris Neal

Warren and Doris Neal, May 1943.

Doris Wilson had gathered recommendations and applications to join the WAVES, but she surprised everyone with some news. “Instead of joining the WAVES,” she wrote her brother Dale, “I’m joining the Wives and the Army Air Force via Lt. Neal.” Warren Neal was an Iowa farmer who had received his wings the same day Dale got his. Warren graduated at Marfa Army Air Base in Texas, and started teaching advanced cadets there a few days later.

Doris and Warren had dated off and on since high school. Doris later said that they really got better acquainted through letter writing during the war.

Doris shopped in downtown Des Moines for her wedding outfit. She found an aqua suit for $25.45 (.50 tax included) at Taylor’s, Seventh and Walnut, “Where Des Moines Shops With Confidence.” And white ankle-strap, peep-toe shoes for $5.61 at Baker’s on Seventh.

Warren arrived home on a Saturday. They were married the next afternoon, May 16, at the Presbyterian church in Dexter, where Warren’s family attended.

“Was a very pretty wedding,” Leora wrote. “Doris wore an aqua blue suit, white shoes and hat, carried a little white Bible we gave her (as she wanted one). She and Darlene had pink roses and white gardenia. Warren of course was in his Lt. uniform with his ‘wings’.”

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Mervin Wells (Warren’s brother in law) was the best man since Warren’s brother Bill was in training and couldn’t get home for the wedding. Warren and Doris Neal, and Darlene (Wilson) Scar.

Warren’s sister Nadine played the pump organ and sister Betty Neal Wells sang a solo. For the recessional, Nadine played the Air Force Song that starts, “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder.”

Evelyn and Delbert Wilson

Evelyn and Delbert Wilson, May 1943

Delbert, the oldest, was still in an east coast base hospital with mumps while Doris was getting married. When he got out, he wired Doris $100 as a wedding gift.

Earlier in the year Delbert had met a really nice girl, who was in the Coast Guard and didn’t smoke or drink, when he was stationed in Baltimore. She seemed sensible, so much different from the others, he said. “She sure is a good actress if she’s not OK.”

He soon sent a telegram to his parents, asking them to wire him $150, that he might be getting married, which he did. To a girl named Evelyn.

“My so much has happened in a few days that I hardly know where to begin,” Leora wrote Dale. “Doris and Warren left for Marfa, Texas the 20th, and just after dinner that day we got a phone call that we had a Western Union telegram at the depot–it was from Delbert–said he was to be married Sun. May 23rd to Evelyn Moore of Baltimore! Some surprise, now, isn’t it?!

Well, we got a long distance call from Baltimore Sun. eve. It was Delbert and Evelyn! We had a good talk! Darlene and Richard were here. Darlene, Dad, and I talked to Delbert, and Darlene and I talked to Evelyn. She said she was so happy and was anxious to meet all of us, and Delbert said he was happy.”

All four older Wilson siblings were married now, making 1943 a very exciting year.


All four marriages from the 1940s lasted their entire lives. Donald and Rose Wilson are on the left. Then Sam and Darlene Scar. Leora Wilson is next to both daughters–Darlene and Doris. Warren and Doris, then Delbert and Evelyn.

The Wilson family story is told in Leora’s Letters: The Story of Love and Loss for an Iowa Family During World War II.


    • It was fun, once I realized that three of them had gotten married within four months of each other. The two brothers hadn’t known their wives very long, but all four siblings had marriages that lasted until their spouse died.

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