TUBA CITY, Ariz. - Louise Yellowman is a very well-known and well-seasoned public figure, used to standing in front of crowds. On Sept. 4, Louise's husband, Frank, shared the spotlight with his wife as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary at St. Jude's Catholic Church.
"Today we are here to celebrate not just the marriage of Louise and Frank Yellowman, but to celebrate their accomplishments as a married couple and what they created not just for their family, but for their community," said daughter Pearl, who served as the master of ceremonies for the celebration.
"Just watching the many accomplishments of my mother, I am very proud of her. I am proud of the accomplishments of my mother and father. Today is really about how they supported each other. They did it together. They taught us how we can turn a need into an action to improve our homes and our community."
Family members described Frank as the quiet foundation of the family.
"It's easy to learn about Louise, but Frank has always been in the supportive role. He's been a quiet, simple man. Today I am reminded of how hard my father always worked," Pearl shared. "He was always fixing things for us - always making sure that things were comfortable for us."
Pearl went on to describe how carefully Frank maintained the vehicles his family depended on, down to washing the windows.
Daughter Marilyn thanked family and friends for taking time to travel to share in the celebration.
"It's nice to see our whole family together," she said.
"Our dad was always there for us, down to making sure our beds were comfortable for us," Marilyn continued. "Anytime there was a sports event, he was the driver. I am glad our dad was always there for us."
"This is an important day for my mom and dad," daughter Michelle said. "I'm proud of my parents. We were lucky to have parents like them. Our dad was always there for us. Mom made sure that we always walked the right path. She was a great teacher as well as a great mother."
Debra described herself as the "middle kid," and said that her mother and father were always working, but that Louise did her best to recruit her children into her busy political life.
"She always had work for us to do," Debra laughed. "Sometimes I didn't always answer her phone calls because of that. My dad always worried about people. He was always there for us."
Son Don, who has followed in his mother's footsteps, arrived home from environmental/political work in San Francisco in time to celebrate with his family.
"I called my folks from downtown San Francisco, Second Street and Mission, to tell them I was there. Through the years our parents talked about the streets where I'd gotten lost as a small child," Don said.
"It's amazing that we are celebrating our folks' 50 years of marriage," Don added. "Time flies by. I think of the good memories, and I want to thank my mom and dad for being who they are."
"Most times you can tell good parents by their children," daughter Opal expressed. "We've carved out our own characters from what we learned in the home."
Pearl called Steve Darden of Flagstaff - who serves on the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission and is a practicing medicine man and consultant - a brother to her family. Darden has worked closely with Louise and was called on for help many, many times.
"She called me to ask me to pray for her husband," Steve said. "That's the way she expresses herself from her love for her dear husband. Louise does not want to burden you children, her precious children and grandchildren. During my interactions with her outside of politics, she never fails to mention to me stories about you children and her grandchildren.
"The most significant thing about celebrating these 50 years is the lives that she touched, the work that he did - all the energy they put forth, Darden continued. "Louise set a standard for us with her work, but she could never have set that standard without her loving husband beside her."
Finally, Louise took the microphone to speak about her long marriage to her best friend.
"My mother told me, 'When you meet a boyfriend, if they say they love you, make sure they really mean it,'" she said. "I can trust him, I rely on him; I feel the security he brings."
Frank expressed his own thanks to everyone for sharing the day with the happy couple and his thanks to his wife.
"She used to be my wife, but now she's my doctor and my nurse," Frank laughed, referring to the diabetes that has slowed him down.
The couple finished the afternoon by cutting and sharing a beautiful cake, then posing for pictures with their large family. Louise and Frank were surrounded by their five children; their grandchildren Mchel Mathias, Ryne Mathias, Joseph Mathias, Mylan Caye, Megan Caye, McKayla Caye, Joshua Tso and Chenoa Tso; their new great-grandchild Cheyton Mathias; and other family members.
(Editor's note: Regular readers of the Navajo-Hopi Observer have heard their last from longtime NHO contributor S.J. Wilson. She is now a happily married S.W. Benally. She states, "I have been blessed with a husband and had been married for only a week when I had the honor of sharing Louise and Frank Yellowman's 50th wedding anniversary. The experience was a testimony to the blessing of a good marriage. I especially appreciated Frank's ability to live a quiet, private life supporting his family and his beautiful, very public wife. It brings me joy to wish my friend Louise and her husband many more years of happiness.")