Community icons married 65 years

By Marge Woodfin, Pilot staff writer February 09, 2013 12:21 am
Polly, left, and Dick Keusink Submitted photo
Polly, left, and Dick Keusink Submitted photo
“It takes patience on both sides to last 65 years,” Polly Keusink said at the recent Elks Club celebration honoring the anniversary of the Dec. 27, 1947, marriage of 17-year-old Polly Hursley and Richard Keusink, who was 26. 

It’s not surprising that the Keusinks’ anniversary celebration was so well attended. After all, they supplied the community with all the latest news for many years, plus openly sharing their business relationship. 

That romance started with an accidental date when Dick came to the Doris and Frank Hursley BelAire, Calif., home to escort Polly’s older sister, Debbie, to a ball game. When told that Debbie couldn’t accompany him because she had to work, Dick said that, since he had two tickets, he’d take her baby sister to the game. 

That first date led to an exciting life together that included owning and publishing the Curry Coastal Pilot for 19 years until selling the newspaper to its current owner, Western Communications, in 1981. 

In 1961, the young couple, both involved in journalism and employed at the Santa Monica Evening Outlook, were offered jobs when dropped in for a visit at the Curry Coastal Pilot while camping at Harris Beach campground. They told the paper’s owner, John Jenkins, that they weren’t interested in jobs, but shared a dream of owning a country weekly newspaper, and that the Brookings paper, published on Thursdays, seemed to just fit the bill. 

Jenkins wasn’t interested in selling at that time. However, when they returned the following year, Jenkins, who had suffered a heart attack, was ready to sell and they were ready to buy. He told the young couple, “This is my last issue.” He explained that they would have to be back to run the paper by the following week. To raise the cash to buy the paper, they had to sell their California home by Monday morning. It was obviously meant to be. The house sold, the cash was raised, and Dick and Polly returned to Brookings in time to get the paper out by Thursday, and that was when the famous editorial arguments began. 

“The presses could be running and we’d be yelling at each other,” Polly said, adding, “People thought we were killing each other.” Perhaps those arguments contributed to the success of the paper. 

They will tell you today that they loved working together and they have continued to be best friends over the years. 

Their three children share slightly different memories about the move to Brookings. Gold Beach attorney Chris Keusink said it was a big change from the large Los Angeles school to the small school in Brookings, in a tone that indicated he wasn’t completely happy with the move. However, his sisters indicated pleasant memories about the move. 

Ellen Babin said, “It was a dream come true: a small school, 4H Club, and everybody knows you. We had a wonderful time.” Younger sister Kate Davies said, “We were raised on TV dinners and nursed by our big black lab, Mercury, and we had opportunities to meet important people, and listen to adult conversations about exciting things.” All three sounded enthusiastic about one regular activity connected with the paper, collecting buckets full of coins from paper dispensers every Thursday night. 

Dick and Polly have eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

While discussing their celebration honoring 65 years of marriage, Polly repeated, “Yes, patience is my key word.” 

Dick added, “And talk things out. Argue, and then sleep on it overnight.” 

It has obviously worked well for the Keusinks.