Taos County, New Mexico
Eufie and Ernest Varos

Wedded bliss
61 years
Rock-solid love and devout faith see couple through lifetime of happiness
Story by William Maxwell, The Taos News, August 16, 2001

Twenty-first century newlyweds could take some lessons from Eufie and Ernest Varos, who will have been married 61 years on Sept. 21.

In this age of Las Vegas weddings, quickie divorces, prenuptial agreements, second wives, third wives and fourth wives (and husbands), this couple has been together as the country fought three wars, as they lived in two states and as they had two sons (who died as small children), four daughters, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

Outside their window, the Model T's and horse-drawn wagons of the 1920s became the SUVs of today.

So how did they do it?

"The first thing is love," Eufie said. "We've gotten along real good all these years." "We had disagreements sometimes," Ernest said. "Not enough to get a divorce," Eufie rejoined. "Sometimes, disagreements have brought us more together. When we disagreed, he would come back and I don't hold grudges. Those are no good."

Eufie Martinez knew she wanted to get to know Ernest Varos even before she met him. When she and a girlfriend, on their way to the post office in Taos, saw him and a couple of buddies hanging out in his dad's truck, her friend introduced them. He was 18. She was 20. "'I didn't even see those other two guys,' I tell him," Eufie said. "'I only saw you.'"

The next day, the girls ran into Ernest again, and he gave them a ride back to the apartment they had rented in Taos. "After my friend got off, he asked me if I would go out with him the next day," she said. They went to dances, to the movies, to dinner.

They were married seven months later.

For 60 years, the two have worked alongside each other. Ernest worked at Don Ambrose's dairy in the 1930s before they moved to Sidney, Neb., in the '40s.

During World War II, Ernest maintained the houses at an ordinance depot while his wife assembled and cleaned rifles and packed them in boxes.

Back in Taos, Ernest worked as a contractor while Eufie worked in the county assessor's office until she retired to look after her family. "She was a sweet wife after that; she takes care of me," Ernest said.

Their daughter, Deborah, said her parents were always willing to do the work needed to stay together. "They have a lot of patience and forgiveness," she said. "It was never 50 percent. They gave 100 percent of themselves." Another thing that kept the family close was her parents' devout faith, Deborah said.

Eufie is the daughter of a Methodist minister in Cerro. The couple went on to found the Good News Christian Fellowship in Taos in 1979. "The Lord brings us together closer and closer when you have love in your heart," Ernest said.

The couple has seen a host of changes in the Taos area over the years, not all of them good. Ernest remembers the days when no one had running water, just wells. "Now the rivers are polluted; you are afraid to drink that water," he added. "We used to raise our food from the ground," Ernest said.

Eufie's family had 54 acres in Cerro. She remembers that her father would go to her grandfather Pedro A. Gomez's store on Cerro's La Placita to pick up coffee, salt and sugar.

The years of the Great Depression were hard. Ernest's family had an apple orchard. He told Deborah that he took two apples and a tortilla to school for lunch every day. Some of his schoolmates were so hungry they asked him for the cores of the apples.

When Ernest went to work, he walked from El Prado to Ranchos de Taos and back when he couldn't get a ride.

When the Varoses were raising their own children, they also raised much of their food. "We used to slaughter our own sheep and cows," Ernest said. "Milk, cream, butter -- we used to make our own." Eufie made tortillas from scratch and prepared chile, potatoes, jellies, jams, and for Christmas, empanaditas, or sweet pork turnovers mixed with nuts and raisins. "We have a good cook," Ernest said, looking at his wife. He is not so happy with the modern way in Taos and the rest of the country. "Now, everything is instant. Instant coffee. Go and get your Big MacŪ."

Ernest, whose family used to own much land east of Paseo del Pueblo Norte and east of State Road 522 in El Prado, doesn't like everything he sees. He doesn't like the traffic. Outsiders crowding in. "We didn't use to lock our door at night," he remembers.

Life has slowed down for the couple. They work in the garden outside their home off Blueberry Hill Road. But the great pride of their life continues to be their family. "In church on Mother's Day, I'm always the first to be called to the front," Eufie said.

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© Karen Mitchell