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New resident has fond memories of European adventures

Richard and Bonnie brought this trio of elves back from Germany, and they are now displayed in Richard’s apartment at Presbyterian Manor. When their clothes started to show wear, Bonnie fixed them up with bright new duds.

Newlyweds Richard and Bonnie Brown spent the early days of their marriage in Germany, where Richard was serving in the United States Army in the late 1950s.

“It really is nice to be over there when you’re young,” said Richard, who moved into the assisted living neighborhood at Wichita Presbyterian Manor last year.

In Germany, Richard met another married man who wanted his wife to join. However, he feared she couldn’t make the trip by herself. Richard said he knew his wife was perfectly capable of making the journey, so the two women traveled together.

Bonnie had a degree in home economics and teaching from Kansas State University, which is where she and Richard met. She had begun a teaching career at Clearwater High School before joining Richard in Germany where she worked for a U.S. military school. Richard served as a meteorologist for the Army, sending up weather balloons to test the air density.

When the couple wasn’t working, they enjoyed exploring their new environment and traveling around Europe. Richard jokes that he bought his first Mercedes-Benz while they were there. (See photo at the very top.) The joke is the car wasn’t much to brag about, a beat-up 1949 model he purchased for $200. Bonnie suggested they paint the frame, and they did — applying a coat of black on the street in front of their four-story apartment building.

The couple put a lot of miles on that old Mercedes. They visited Munich and Paris. Switzerland was “absolutely gorgeous,” and they were amazed by the architecture in Venice, Italy’s “floating city.”

“Everything we got to see was just fantastic,” Richard said.

Richard still has the “baby orders” for his first child, who was born while he and Bonnie were living in Germany.

The Browns even attended Expo 58, otherwise known as the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. They walked so much there that Bonnie wore a hole in the bottom of one of her shoes. The American Pavilion at Expo 58 included objects representing all 50 states, and they laughed about the fact that the artifact chosen for Kansas was a tumbleweed.

When they returned to Kansas, Bonnie insisted on having a Christmas tumbleweed instead of a tree during the following holiday season.

The Browns’ first child was born in Germany shortly before the couple returned to Kansas. Richard completed his degree in business administration from Wichita State and went on to work for International Harvester for more than 30 years, first in accounts receivable and then in sales.

Bonnie went back to teach at Clearwater High School. When she died in 2018, the couple had been married for 63 years. Richard said that although they spent many wonderful years together, some of his favorite memories are from those European adventures when they were young.

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