Storms raging in the Carribean, Spokane’s own Harvey and Irma are still in love after 75 years

September 9, 2017

Last weekend, Hurricane Harvey flooded Texas with several feet of rainfall, and this weekend Hurricane Irma is taking dead aim at Florida.

Harvey and Irma are also in Spokane, but they’ve got nothing to do with bad weather.

Harvey and Irma Schluter made headlines earlier this year when they celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, a story that also noted the couple have acted as foster parents to more than 120 children.

Their new claim to fame: two major storms share their name.

The coincidence has brought visits and telephone calls from the New York Times and television stations. The couple confess they’re a little bewildered by all the attention.

“It’s something we weren’t expecting,” Irma said.

The couple have never been in a hurricane and they’re not glued to the television to get information about the storms, but they know what’s going on.

“Some of that stuff upsets me,” said Irma, 92. “I don’t really like to watch too much of it.”

The World Meteorological Organization is in charge of the list of names used for hurricanes. The rotating lists of names include one for each letter of the alphabet. A name is retired if a storm causes major damage, so it’s likely that the names Harvey and Irma will be retired and not used again. And that suits Irma just fine.

“Thank goodness,” she said.

She said their pastor came by and read them the New York Times article about them and promised to get copies to their two children. “It’s really unusual to have our names attached to the hurricanes,” she said.

Until now, their lives have been fairly quiet and out of the limelight. Harvey, 104, was a longtime barber in Hillyard, where he owned Harvey’s Shop. And they raised foster children, usually four at a time, but sometimes five or six if there was a need. Many of the children, some of whom keep in touch and call them Mom and Dad, were physically or developmentally disabled.

“I enjoyed every one of them,” Irma said. “We’ve had a happy marriage through the years.”

She said there’s no real secret to their 75 years together.

“Live each day,” she said. “Take each day and live it.”