Love at first sight now into its 60th year for the Mobleys

September 1, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink


Arlene and David Mobley in 2009

It was love at first sight when David Mobley saw Arlene Richardson hustle down the stairs of a Portland Montgomery Ward building.

“I was eating lunch with another guy in the cafeteria and she came down those stairs the way she always did, and I told him she was the girl I was going to marry,” he said.

The couple, who have lived in Mirrormont since 1966, will celebrate their 60th anniversary Sept. 5 with friends and family.

“I can’t imagine life without my wife,” he added. “She is a part of me.”

“We’re like bread and butter,” she said.

“Whose the butter?” David asked.

“I am,” she said, smiling.

While David, 79, knew his future from the start, Arlene, 77, said she needed a bit of convincing.“He was a stock boy and I worked in the office, picking up the orders from the warehouse and taking them to the office as a Girl Friday,” Arlene said. “One day, he went ‘Hubba, hubba.’ The next thing I knew he kept hammering away for a date.”

“Oh, I don’t know about that,” David said. “I would try to arrange it so that I was in the right spot, so I could get a conversation going.”

With David lying in wait for her to pick up orders several times a day for about a week, Arlene accepted his offer.

His persistence got him the date, she said.

“And he was cute,” she added. “He has these cute, blue eyes.”

“It’s hard to say what I liked about her,” David said. “She was good lookin’, so that was that.”

But it wasn’t smooth sailing on their first date. They did hit it off at dinner and a movie with another couple, although neither of them could remember where they went or what movie they saw. But they do remember Arlene’s sweater shedding in the back of a brand new 1947 Nash sedan, which belonged to the brother of a friend of David’s.

“He was madder than a wet hornet,” Arlene said, chuckling.

Luckily, his friend was able to clean the car, and the rest was dating history. The two married Sept. 3, 1949. * Arlene was 17 * and David was 19.

Afterward, David was offered an engineering job at an aerospace company in San Diego. The couple stayed in California for about 15 years and had five children, while David earned credits at a community college.

“I wanted all my children before 30. That was my plan and that’s what I got,” Arlene said. “I wanted to have them young enough to enjoy all the grandkids.”

The couple has 22 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, with another due in November.

Eventually, The Boeing Co. came calling with a job offer and the family moved to Issaquah in 1966. But the job didn’t last long.

Thousands of Boeing engineers, buyers and managers found themselves out of work and with a slow job market, many were struggling to make ends meet.

“I lost my job in 1971, because I worked with Boeing as a contract engineer,” David said. “We had this house and we were afraid we’d lose it, so I know what people are going through now. It’s tough.”

It was one of the hardest times the couple has had to endure. David and Arlene made the decision to send him back to college to finish his degree, even though the couple already had children in high school and one in college.

David having his nose in the books at Suzzalo Library on the University of Washington campus, working full time cleaning toilets in office buildings with a maintenance firm and holding down an internship/temporary job with the Washington State Patrol made life tough on everyone in the family.

“I became the daddy and the mommy since he was carrying 17 credits and having to work full time,” Arlene said.

Eventually, David graduated with a degree in political science from the university. When he began working toward a master’s degree in public administration in 1974, the state patrol offered him a full-time mechanical engineering position, from which he retired in 1997.

Aside from David’s battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma between 1989 and 1990, the couple says they’ve been lucky to be healthy and attribute that to their faith and the Lord’s blessings.

“I am a survivor,” he said. “The Lord has been good to me and has been good to us.”

They also attribute their good life to the one thing they built together — their family.

“We are most proud of our family and grateful that we’ve got them,” Arlene said. “They are a blessing in every way.”

What has kept them going through good times and bad?

“Don’t go to bed mad,” Arlene said.

“And have a sense of humor,” David added, finishing her sentence, as they often do. “Life can be very dreary and the person you love has got to have a sense of humor. We both have that.

“We’ve had tough times, but we’ve gotten over it,” he added. “It’s give and take, one day at a time, and here we are.”

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or Comment at

* This story contains corrected information.

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