POWELL — Surrounded by friends — some old and some new — LeRoy and Marge Davey sat at a beautiful dinner table in a grand room with a festive cake decorated in a rose motif and a stack of greeting cards placed in front of them.
“Happy 70th LeRoy and Marge,” the cake read in fluffy pink frosting.
They had met at a Billings nightclub and danced through the night to live music. While the Powell couple couldn’t (or wouldn’t) put into words what brought them together, there was a strong attraction that has lasted through the many years of marriage.
“It takes a lot of work,” Marge said when pressed for clues to how they thrived for so long.
“We’ve been lucky,” LeRoy added.
The slight suggestion of a warm smile every time their eyes met made it apparent they were proud of their accomplishments, including rewarding careers, three children and a long list of adventures as they moved through the calendars together.
LeRoy was a popular junior high math teacher, teaching generations of students in his decades in Powell.
Sitting at the opposite end of the table was Susan Feller, one of LeRoy’s seventh-grade students nearly 60 years ago. She bragged about her expertise in math, thanks to his approach to teaching.
“I got a perfect grade,” she said, which brought a suspicious laugh from the small group.
But LeRoy immediately dispelled any doubt about her expertise, saying, “she was one of the best students I ever had.”
He taught her three children as well.
“They listened to him. And they all are good at math,” she said.
“I think he was an excellent math teacher,” Marge agreed. “All of his former students would come up to him and say, Mr. Davey, I just absolutely hated math until I got into your class.”
Marge worked in the insurance industry, beginning in the office and eventually earning her agent license. Even in their work lives, no matter what they did, they did it together.
“LeRoy was my mathematician,” she said about his assistance in her career.
Marge and LeRoy are both 93 years old. They retired about 30 years ago and traveled the world together. They loved to go to New York for Broadway shows and took long trips to Germany, Austria, Great Britain and France.
Both also loved to ride bicycles together. LeRoy craved long trips on the road while Marge preferred mountain biking off the beaten path. LeRoy became friends with Buzz Larsen, who owned Larsen’s Bicycle Shop in Powell.
LeRoy would walk by the shop almost daily and eventually bought a bike and fell in love with the sport. The two, who share the same birthday of May 2, became “fast friends of the road” and continued to ride until recently.
“We’d do the OGL — the Old Guy Loop together,” said Buzz Larsen of the 24-mile ride out of Powell on Avenue E to Wyo. Highway 294, then south to U.S. Highway 14A, taking the four-lane back to town.
“We managed to meet at the same time every day,” Larsen said of their friendship.
As with any long life, it wasn’t always easy. One of the couple’s saddest days was when they lost one of their three daughters, JoAnne, after a multi-year fight with ovarian cancer at the young age of 46. She was a clinical dietitian at Duke University and the University of Pennsylvania. She and husband, Dr. Keith McCrae, gave LeRoy and Marge their two grandchildren.
Their other daughters, Jacquie and Susan, now live in the Denver area.
Most recently, LeRoy has traded in his beloved road bike for a wheelchair and is now living apart from his wife at Cody Regional Health’s Spirit Mountain Hospice House — where their anniversary party was held. He is pleased with the level of care and being able to spend time in the nurturing environment with friends, both old and new.
He tells his closest friends that he’s “real slow at this dying thing.”
He cherishes his fond memories and every chance he has to kiss Marge and hold her hand, but doesn’t want his friends to make a big deal about his destiny. He’s not the sort to sit still while people praise him for the many thousands of lives he has changed through his long career, Marge said.
He’s still spunky. Most recently he threatened to exact revenge on the friends who sent the reporter to his anniversary celebration.
He’s not humble, he said, but hates being in the limelight. Unfortunately for LeRoy and Marge, it’s hard to hide when you’re loved by so many.