Russell and Charleen Thill were having a good time at their 40th anniversary party when the couple decided to get up and sing a karaoke song, but once they were done, their daughter had one last surprise for them.
She got on stage and announced that her parents would be the Citizens of the Year for North Bend Days.
“I couldn’t really talk very well, I was like, ‘Wow!’ We had several surprises in that day previous to the anniversary party, let alone her announcing that in front of friends and relatives. It is an honor, it really is,” Charleen said.
Earlier on in the day, they were surprised several times with the outpouring of love from the community and a special cake that was the perfect replica of their wedding cake, complete with the wedding topper from their original cake that Charleen had saved for 40 years.
The couple met because Charleen’s dad owned Freddy’s Bar in North Bend and Russell played on the bar’s softball team.
Even though they have been a staple in the community for 40 years, Russell thinks he knows why they were nominated.
“With a small town, a small community like this, they are running out of people, really and truthfully, to nominate. This is really our first time doing this and we’ve been here 40 years,” Russell said amid laughter from Charleen.
The couple loves living in North Bend and the closeness of the community.
“The neighbors and everybody get along around here so if someone needs a helping hand, we can pretty much call on each other,” Russell said.
Russell has been involved one the sewer board for more than 15 years and in the winder he does a lot of plowing for his neighbors. Both of them are also very avid members of their church.
Russell worked for Mel-Min for 24 years and Charleen has worked at Ashley Furniture for the last 11 years. Russell retired last July and hasn’t slowed down a bit. He is currently helping to remodel his daughter’s kitchen.
Together they have three children and five grandchildren.