The Lewiston couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Thursday.
Tom and Toni Saleen were married July 25, 1969, in the pristine mountain community of McCall, where they both had attended high school. Tom was one of seven children and Toni had eight siblings. Toni was a mature age of 17 and Tom was 19.
Tom had logged in McCall for a couple of years until deciding to attend the Lewiston City Police Academy in Lewiston. After a one-day honeymoon to Yellow Pine, Idaho, they came to Lewiston with all their possessions in the back of their El Camino pickup. It was a little tough getting started, but Tom worked security, nights and weekends at Omark, while both attended school full time. The couple made the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley their home for 50 years and have really never wanted to move anywhere else.
With thanks to the Almighty, they recall an incredibly blessed life, with lots of love, laughter, adventures, countless good friends and a few good dogs, too. From the beginning though, they do have one long-standing disagreement. Tom recalls Toni’s vows being to “love, honor and obey.” Toni remembers the latter differently.
Tom went to work for the Lewiston Police Department in 1970 and spent the majority of 14 years working as a detective. He went to the FBI National Academy when he was 26 years old and was made a captain at age 29. While working nights and swing shift, Tom also received a bachelor of science degree at Lewis-Clark State College and later became alumni president at the noble institution. The results from a tragic bombing incident during a robbery call, where his partner was killed, ultimately resulted in an early retirement from police work.
Serving Lewiston during the ’70s and early ’80s, a time of unrest and substantial criminal activity, Tom is extremely proud of his tenure as a Lewiston police officer. A lot of dirtbags went to jail and the stories the grandkids want to hear are cop stories. There is something to be said too, about working in an organization where integrity is paramount and every fellow officer would forfeit his life to save someone else’s.
In June 1973 Travis joined the family and in July 1976 Tami made the family complete. Toni became the home engineer and Tom worked at the police department and many part-time jobs, including several years of fire and security watch at Potlatch where he walked 20 miles a night during eight-hour weekend shifts.
After Tami was in grade school, Toni attended LCSC and obtained her teaching degree. For 21 years she taught in the Lewiston School District: 10 years as a fourth-grade teacher and 11 years as a gifted and talented coordinator. Toni was elementary teacher of the year during her prestigious career and instigated outstanding contributions to the enrichment curriculum. The Fourth Grade Rendezvous, to help children understand the rich culture and history of Idaho and the fourth grade Hells Canyon river trips were initiated to add interest and excitement to the educational process and to teach the children the cultural, historical, geological and geographic importance of Hells Canyon. These special programs were treasured by the students, and became and remain favored traditions for Lewiston children.
After leaving police work, Tom was hired by Omark Industries as their first law enforcement manager. After 30 years on the job, he retired as vice president of international sales at ATK. Up until 1984 the company had not sold ammunition to police departments and the employment arrangement was predicated on being able to get sales going to justify the expense. Tom became the emphasis champion and the results of a total organizational effort towards building a new business segment forever super charged the CCI/Speer ammunition company. Starting from virtually last place in the handgun ammunition industry, product and sales concentration resulted in police departments and commercial entities throughout the U.S. and the world using ammunition produced at CCI/Speer, important line extensions, dominant market share gains, and a clear and decisive leadership position for the hometown team.
Given the couples’ incredible commitments to work, along with the inordinate amount of extra hours to ensure important things got done, Tom and Toni were always concerned about the quality of family life and the children growing up so quickly. Accordingly, there was genuine effort put toward adventures that would be remembered. Weeklong white water rafting trips on all the major waterways in Idaho became a mainstay during summer vacations, as well as trips to Hawaii, Florida and other national destinations. These countless recollections, including annual hunting and high mountain lakes fishing trips with Travis, are priceless memories.
When the kids were in their high school years, both were admonished to stay away from weed and hard drinking, and that good education for them is what Tom and Toni wanted more than anything. Both took the guidance seriously with Travis becoming a mechanical engineer and Tami a physical therapist. Tami was Lewiston Roundup Rodeo Queen her senior year and following her on the dusty trail was one of Tom and Toni’s best years ever. Travis is now a product engineer for Power Engineers in Hailey, Idaho, and Tami and her husband, Dave Biery, have their own physical therapy business, Peak Performance Physical Therapy, in Lewiston. Going into the last quarter of life and recognizing the children are more than able to stand on their own two feet is an incalculable blessing.
Time rolled by so quickly with Travis marrying Tami Roskammer and later blessing Tom and Toni with Josie and Ross. Before long too, Tami married David Biery and together brought them Cooper and Sawyer. Life with the ability to have active involvement with their very special grandkids has definitely made life come full circle, added so much happiness and made life so much more complete for the Saleens. A lot of gas has also run through the Bentz Boat taking grandkids on fishing expeditions and to Snake River beaches.
Toni retired five years before Tom and frequently traveled to many parts of the world with him on business and vacations, including many “living the dream” hunting and fishing trips. For years, the taxidermy bills were a major expense, but seeing the mounts on the shop wall now and recalling the memories that go with each trophy make it worth it.
Now both Tom and Toni are retired with trips around the world continuing. A lot of time is also spent with Travis, Tami and their families. For five years now, Tom and Toni have gone to Yuma, Ariz., for the winter months. Experiencing the Southwest life and history and bounding around in the desert with new friends who want to live life to the fullest has made senior life and winters most enjoyable.
Considering what has brought them the most enjoyment in their 50 years of marriage, the plan for the 50th anniversary celebration will be a little different. Tom and Toni will be taking Travis and his family, and Tami and her family to Kruger National Park in South Africa to open their eyes to the magnificence of the world and for an experience they should be able to talk about around campfires the rest of their lives.
As the couple remarked, “You know life is moving on, we know we are in the last quarter of the ballgame of life and we have seen so many family members and friends pass on.” Accordingly, their plan for their future is to keep the adventures coming as long as health holds and the money does not run out.