Couple celebrating double anniversary
By Patty Kruszewski, Citizen Managing Editor 07/28/11
Kathryne and Robert Louzek left Henrico County three decades ago, but they still think of it as home.
In the intervening years, the Stafford residents (pictured at right after their wedding in 1981 and, below, recently) have criss-crossed the country, setting up household in locations ranging from Florida and California to Georgia and Louisiana. But whenever possible, they get back to eastern Henrico to visit the many family and friends still here.
On Aug. 1, they will no doubt entertain a few of those family members and friends as they hold a cook-out to celebrate a double 30th anniversary.
Not only does the date mark 30 years of marriage, but it also marks the end of Robert's 30-year career with the Navy. After spending the last few years at the Pentagon, he will retire from military life on the day of their wedding anniversary.
On the move
Although Robert Louzek grew up in an Air Force family and did not move to Sandston until he was 13, Kathryne (also known as "Nip") grew up in Varina. Her parents ran a grocery store, “Eberly’s Place,” on Route 5 near Curles Neck Farm.
In 1970, Kathryne graduated from Varina H.S, and Robert graduated from Highland Springs H.S. Both were living and working in Henrico when they met in 1977 at a mutual friend's home in Sandston; they married four years later at Kathryne’s home in Varina.
Following graduation from college and a couple of civilian jobs, Robert joined the Navy in 1981, progressing through Officer’s Candidate School and flight school. A month after their wedding, Ensign Louzek got his first military orders, and he and his new bride plunged into the Navy way of life. In the ensuing years the couple added two children and moved around to Pensacola, Fla.; Virginia Beach; San Diego, Calif.; Kennesaw, Ga.; Monterey, Calif.; and Mandeville, La.
The nomadic life held both challenges and blessings, says Kathryn.
"Robert’s job always came first, and the rest of the family adjusted whenever he received orders to move to another command," she says. Among the challenges of being constantly uprooted were having to make regular farewells to friends, seeing extended family for only rare visits, and being apart as a family for special events.
One such special event that stands out in Kathryne's mind was the birth of their first child, Robyn, now 27. "Robert was deployed [at the time of the birth], and did not meet her until she was four months old," she says.
A return to roots
Robyn and her sister Jayne, now 23, also had to change schools often – sometimes in the middle of the year.
"When we moved, it wasn’t just across town," says Kathryne. "It was across the country." She adds that while moving in elementary school was fun for the girls, they found it harder in middle and high school; Robyn attended high school in three states, and Jayne attended high school in two.
"But both are college graduates," she says, "so all the moving did not hinder their ability to do well in school."
In addition, says Kathryne, the Louzek family has reaped a number of rewards from their frequent moves.
"We lived in really wonderful places on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts of the United States," she says. "We always found good friends wherever we lived. Our children have an appreciation of other communities that comes from living in so many different areas of the United States."
Another advantage of all the moving around, Kathryne believes, is that it helped strengthen the marriage.
"Our frequent separations from family and friends required us to rely on each other," she says, while adding that "love, humor, patience, tolerance, forgiveness . . [and] our belief that family is forever" also contributed to the longevity of the marriage.
Although the Louzeks cannot say for certain what the next step will be after Aug. 1, it's clear that more frequent visits to Henrico County are in their future.
"Even though we have been gone for 30 years, we still consider Henrico home," says Kathryne. Among the family and friends who live in eastern Henrico are Robert's mother, Jean Poole of Sandston, and Kathryne's siblings.
"Since we are only an hour and a half up [Interstate] 95, we visit often," says Kathryne. "We have a dream of one day returning to live in the area."
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