Freeland pair in their 90s are heading for the altar

Phyllis Cain and Bill Iles of Freeland are looking forward to their wedding next week. “We’ve decided to live to be 100,” he said. - Roy Jacobson / The Record
Phyllis Cain and Bill Iles of Freeland are looking forward to their wedding next week. “We’ve decided to live to be 100,” he said.
— image credit: Roy Jacobson / The Record

Being old-fashioned types, Phyllis Cain and Bill Iles look at their wedding next week as a lifetime deal.

“Marriage is a great institution,” Cain said Thursday. “I’m certainly looking forward to it.”

“I’ve always enjoyed being married,” said Iles. “I’ve been the marrying kind.”

“We’ll spend the rest of our lives here together,” said Cain.

“We’ve decided to live to be 100,” added Iles. “Time will tell.”

They don’t have far to go. Cain is 94, and Iles is 92.

“It’s made us all pretty giddy around here,” said Kris Barker, activities director at Maple Ridge Assisted Living Community in Freeland, where Iles and Cain are residents. “It’s quite exciting.”

The wedding will be the first for residents at three-year-old Maple Ridge.

“They make such a good pair,” Barker said. “They’re adorable. It was meant to be.”

Iles and Cain will be married at a small family ceremony on Saturday afternoon,

July 24, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland, where Iles is a member.

Cain is a member of St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley, so Father Rick Spicer of St. Hubert is expected to join Pastor Jim Lindus of Trinity in officiating at the ceremony.

A reception will follow at Maple Ridge, attended by about 150 family members and guests, Barker said.

Although they both have apartments in an assisted living facility, the pair need little assistance themselves.

Iles said he walks a mile every morning before breakfast. Both try to attend water-aerobics sessions at Island Athletic Club in Freeland three times a week.

They first met at Maple Ridge, where she was teaching a bridge class which Iles attended. They met again at the athletic club, and began carpooling in Iles’ blue four-wheel-drive Jeep. He drives.

They watch movies and television together, take walks, visit the athletic club and drive to Ken’s Korner every day for a cinnamon bagel, which they split. Thursday, they went to Cain’s family home at Maxwelton Beach and dug clams.

“We get along very well,” Iles said.

“We’re like two peas in a pod,” said Cain. “We do so many things together.”

Cain was born in Ontario, Canada in 1916, later moving with her family to British Columbia and then to Seattle. She was a legal secretary by profession, and came to Whidbey Island about 15 or 20 years ago — “of course, that’s 94-year-old memory,” she said.

She moved to Maple Ridge about two years ago.

Iles was born in 1917 in a sod hut on his family’s homestead in Montana, but spent most of his formative years in North and South Dakota, where his father was a railroad mail clerk.

He graduated from college in South Dakota in 1941, the beginning of World War II. He was already in the Army reserves, and joined the Navy to keep from being drafted into an artillery unit.

“I didn’t know anything about artillery,” he said. “I played trumpet in the band.”

In the Navy, he went immediately into flight training, and spent 20 years flying PBYs and submarine-chasing aircraft, retiring as a commander at Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle in 1962.

“I got tired of flying,” he said. “Those anti-sub planes could drive you crazy.”

He became a math and science teacher in the Kent School District, and soon graduated to administration. For 19 years, he was school district superintendent before retiring and going to work for the state of Washington’s teacher-certification program.

Retiring for good, he moved to Useless Bay, then to Maple Ridge about a year ago.

Cain has two daughters and a son, four grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. Iles has two sons and a daughter, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His son, David Iles, of Langley, is an island artist.

Cain was married for the first and only time so far at age 19, but said she has been alone for a long time and figured to continue that way, until Bill came along.

Iles has been married three times. He said he and his third wife parted a few years ago, and he figured that would be that — until he met Cain.

When he decided to marry again, Iles filed for divorce, which became final on Monday. Thursday, he and Cain drove to Coupeville and paid $56 for a marriage license.

“I decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone,” he said.

“He’s a loving, sensitive person,” she said. “Bill’s the one.”

Iles said the wedding preparations have been hectic.

“We spent all day today running around,” he said. “We finally went down to dig a bunch of clams.”

Both Cain and Iles say they have an excellent chance to make it to 100. One of his great-grandfathers lived to 97, a grandfather to 92.

“He’s a very healthy man,” Cain said. “I’m very healthy, too. But you never know when you’re going to go.”

They plan to honeymoon in Hawaii, when the weather there isn’t so hot. Meanwhile, he’ll move into Cain’s Maple Ridge apartment. Iles said he expects to be in charge of the television remote.

“I’m not too interested in that remote,” Cain said.

But she’s definitely interested in being with Iles.

“I’m nuts about him,” she said. “He’s a wonderful guy.”

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