By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
WESTBOROUGH – There were several chances of Michael and Susan Abladian meeting and not meeting.
But, after decades, the couple celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary on Aug. 16.
“She was my partner,” Michael said in a recent interview. “That was it. We took our vows pretty seriously.”
The Abladians met while Michael, who was an electrical engineer, was working in California.
His company had developed a new high-altitude reconnaissance system, but they were having trouble putting it into fighter jets.
Michael had learned that one of his friends that he grew up with had been living in St. Louis.
On that trip to visit his friend, Michael met Susan, who had moved to St. Louis from Kansas for work.
He estimated that he met her for only a minute. Then Michael was off, traveling back to California.
A couple of weeks later, Michael was back in St. Louis. He saw Susan again at a cookout on the Fourth of July for a handful of minutes. He left once again.
But then, his company told him that they needed a representative in St. Louis. They made Michael an offer he couldn’t turn down and he was heading back to Missouri.
At first, they didn’t connect, but when Michael would visit his friend, Susan was there.
As Michael described it, they never really dated — Susan lived in an apartment house with other young people their age and they got together as a group.
Then, however, Michael got the call to go to Vietnam.
“My boss called, and he says, ‘Pack up your stuff, you’re going to Vietnam. And you can’t tell anyone because it’s classified,’” he recalled.
Susan asked Michael where he was going.
“I said, ‘Back to the office for a visit,’ never intending to come back. I felt kind of bad because by then we sort of made a connection,” Michael said.
When he got on the plane, the stewardess told Michael he had a phone call. It was his boss. Michael’s mission had changed and he didn’t have to go to Vietnam.
After that, he and Susan began getting closer.
A year later, they were dating when Michael was assigned to go to France and Germany for a pair of two-year trips.
“I said, ‘What do I do now?’ Marriage was not on my horizon at all,” Michael said.
He had to break up with Susan.
One day, they were sitting on the floor, and Michael was helping Susan balance her checkbook. Michael said when Susan would run out of money, she would call her father.
He caught Susan looking at him.
Finally, he asked her how she would make out in life when her parents passed.
“She said, ‘Well then, you’re going to have to take care of me,’” Michael recalled. “In a sense, she proposed to me, sort of.”
Eventually, the couple moved to Massachusetts. They had two children. Susan was elected to the Westborough Board of Selectmen.
The pair traveled the world picking up mementos along the way that now fill the front room of their house. There are pictures from Egypt, a vase from Moreno and Lladró figurines from Spain.
“We worked on our problems and said to ourselves, we never went to bed angry,” Michael said. “We worked it all out.”