The Coughlins remember first love, 57 years of marriage |

The Coughlins remember first love, 57 years of marriage

FRISCO – George Coughlin makes no bones about what first drew him to his wife.

“She was built,” says Coughlin, grinning at the memory. “She was put together real good.”

And, he says, she had good bowling form.

The two met nearly 60 years ago in a Marine base bowling alley, only weeks before George shipped out for two years. But military duty wasn’t on his mind that day.

“I looked over and saw this pretty good-looking woman, a tall brunette with ringlet hair,” George says.

At first, Anna was cool to the grinning young man who asked that day if he could bowl with her some time. But, she admits, she felt that very day that the boisterous Marine would one day be her husband.

“I knew he was the guy,” she says. “He was handsome, no doubt about it. And charming. He always made you feel important”

George and Anna, now 79 and 81, are reminiscing about their collective past, cozy in the living room of their Frisco home. They sit in matching rose-colored arm chairs, snow falling lazily outside the window behind them.

The Coughlins, their three children now grown and gone, have been married 57 years.

Their differences, likely the key to their lasting marriage, were obvious to both of them from the day they met. George was a Republican, Anna a Democrat; he was Catholic, she was Protestant. George liked to jitterbug. Anna liked to slow dance.

Nearly six decades later, those differences are still strongly evident. George, a gold chain around his neck and his gradually graying black hair slicked back, weaves the story of their history with comedic animation, gesturing constantly with his hands, a smile never entirely fading from his face. His streetwise south Boston accent adds the perfect spice to his stories. He is, he well knows, a consummate storyteller.

“You can stay overnight,” he tells the small audience in his living room. “I’ve got plenty to tell you.”

Anna’s white hair is cut short and stylishly coiffed. She wears a pink turtleneck, blue cardigan and gray pants, and her head is turned toward her husband. Hands crossed on her lap, she smiles at his antics, shakes her head during some of his baudier stories, rolls her eyes toward their guests at still other turns in his conversation.

None of it deters George.

He remembers hopping a freight train with his brother in 1939, when both of them were teen-agers. He crafts a story from the same night, when a strange woman came knocking at the brothers’ hotel room door and his older sibling told him to “take a walk for a couple of hours – see the sights.”

He relates the story of his and Anna’s wedding. He was Catholic, “a mickey,” he says, and she a Protestant, which meant they could not be married inside the Catholic church’s nave. They were relegated to the rectory instead. Even then, they both had to promise the priest they would raise their children Catholic.

“This is the best story I’ve ever told,” he says. “You’ll love this one.”

The tale takes place on the Coughlins’ wedding night, when an amorous George finds himself locked in the bathroomof their honeymoon suite, his new bride one door – an entire world, from George’s point of view – away from him.

“I was sitting on the commode going, “What a helluva predicament,'” he says, leaning forward as though he is, again, perched on a toilet in that New York hotel room.

A maintenance worker finally released George from the bathroom, and to Anna.

Despite that start, the couple’s young marriage wasn’t trouble free. George first moved his Pennsylvania-born bride to Boston. His mother, who had been taken with George’s former fiancee, wasn’t so sure about Anna. And Anna wasn’t keen on Boston. She returned home for a time and called George to tell him she would not be back. New Englanders, she says, did not embrace outsiders then.

“They let me know I wasn’t welcome,” she says.

George, who calls himself a man of the sea, moved to Pennsylvania, where Anna felt at home. There, they raised their three children. Anna stayed home during those years. George became a police officer. The debonair George quickly gained a following on his south Pittsburgh beat.

“Every teen-aged girl

fell in love with him,”

Anna says. “They called him

Gorgeous George.”

The couple moved to Frisco in 1989, at the urging of their children who had already moved west. Anna, as the receptionist at FirstBank in Silverthorne, is a friendly and familiar face to most of the bank’s customers.

But George has not entirely lost the confidence and charm that attracted those young girls – and his wife – to him.

He regularly hits the dance floor at Barkley’s West for Friday’s Frisco Disco, dancing there with 20-some-year-old women, drinking with men less than half his age. But he always comes home happily to his genteel wife, who still retains the striking stature that first caught George’s eye.

“He talks a lot, but he doesn’t do anything,” she says, sending him a tender, slightly amused smile. “I’m No. 1 in his life.”

Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at

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