Couple share wedding date with moonwalk anniversary


By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com



Wanda and Ron Challen, of Sidney, look through their wedding album. The couple exchanged wedding vows on July 20, 1969, the same day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Sitting in front of the album is a moon glass that the Marathon gas stations gave away after the mission.

Wanda and Ron Challen, of Sidney, look through their wedding album. The couple exchanged wedding vows on July 20, 1969, the same day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Sitting in front of the album is a moon glass that the Marathon gas stations gave away after the mission.


Melanie Speicher | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — When Wanda and Ron Challen, of Sidney, decided to get married in 1969, they had no idea that they would be sharing their wedding with one of the most famous events in world history.

“We picked our wedding date in 1968,” said Ron.

“I don’t think the event ever crossed our minds,” said Wanda.

The wedding date? July 20, 1969. The same day Wapakoneta native Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon.

“I remember it was a hot, muggy day,” said Wanda. “The church was a couple of blocks from where my parents lived (in Deshler). I remember we had to go to their house to get my brother, Steven (Barney), who kept going back to watch the moonwalk.”

Her brother was 14 at the time of the moonwalk, and like millions around the world, didn’t want to miss it.

“We had picked a Sunday for the wedding because most of our relatives wouldn’t be working and we’d have better attendance at it,” recalled Ron. “But then my cousin was in an accident so part of the family was at the hospital. Part of them stayed home, I think, to watch the moon landing.”

Their wedding was in the afternoon and the first step on the moon was delayed until later that evening. The couple watched 30 minutes to an hour of the walk at a hotel after the ceremony.

The couple moved to Sidney after Ron graduated from college.

“Six months after we moved her, my uncle told me my great-grandparents were buried in a Sidney cemetery.”

The connection between the couple and the moonwalk continued when they purchased a house in Sidney. The name of the street where the live — Armstrong Drive.

The subdivision was being developed with space-related names around 1974. Street names included Aldrin Drive, Collins Drive, Apollo Street, Lunar Street and Gemini Drive in addition to Armstrong Drive.

“We liked the house, it was new,” said Wanda. “Plus we could afford it.”

The couple’s family includes two daughters and sons-in-law and seven grandsons, Sandy and Chris Kantorak and their sons, Gabriel, Gavin and Griffin, and Karen and Michael DeToto, and their sons, Dominic, Devon, Dylan, Daxton. Both families live in New Braunfelf, Texas.

Wanda said when the girls were growing up, and the stories about the moonwalk would come on television, they’d say ‘they’re walking about the moonwalk on your anniversary.”

“The moonwalk stole the thunder from our wedding anniversary,” joked Wanda.

Wanda and Ron Challen, of Sidney, look through their wedding album. The couple exchanged wedding vows on July 20, 1969, the same day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Sitting in front of the album is a moon glass that the Marathon gas stations gave away after the mission.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2019/07/web1_Challen-copy.jpgWanda and Ron Challen, of Sidney, look through their wedding album. The couple exchanged wedding vows on July 20, 1969, the same day Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon. Sitting in front of the album is a moon glass that the Marathon gas stations gave away after the mission. Melanie Speicher | Sidney Daily News

By Melanie Speicher

mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com