Roses are romantic, line dancing is dumb: Hommels celebrate 25 years

Joe Hommel in 1996 at age 24 used to swing by the meat department at IGA to visit his best friend. Then Charity, 18, started working there, too.

"It started with saying 'Hi' to my friend. Then I started saying 'Hi' to Charity," Joe, now 49, said.

Charity, 43, said she lived on a boat for seven years with her family, and Wrangell was one of her favorite towns to stop in. Her family was sailing from Juneau to Ketchikan, and she jumped ship in Wrangell, getting a job at the former iterations of IGA, working at both Benjamin's and Bob's.

"We met just before Christmas, got together in February. Three days after becoming an item, we talked about getting married and having kiddos," Charity said.

Joe and his friend had a radio show, and Joe invited Charity to watch a show.

That night at the station, Joe said they started talking about what they wanted in their lives, until "either until 1 or 2 in the morning."

Or, "11 o'clock," Charity said.

"When we started dating, Charity said, "he had this souped up ..."

"It wasn't souped up," Joe interjected.

"OK, 'lifted up' Firebird," conceded Charity.

There was always something waiting for her on the seat. "He would get a rose from the local florist but every time I would get in I would sit on the rose by accident."

As to what attracted Joe to Charity, "She's gorgeous and fun to talk to. We just hit it off."

Charity said Joe was romantic and "very handsome. He always wore cowboy boots and a hat. I was like, 'Whoa. I want to get to know that guy.'"

Most of their courtship involved camping and driving.

"We both were struggling, getting by," Charity said. "We enjoyed country music, so we'd go for drives. Have a fire pit somewhere."

The Hommels married May 26, 1997, in City Park.

The couple have two children, 23-year-old Tabby, short for Tabatha, and 22-year-old Joseph II.

Happiest memories, said Joe, are all of them. But his most memorable are having the kids, and becoming homeowners. "That was enormous and really rewarding. Got our first house in 2002."

What Joe admires about Charity is that "she's stubborn. She takes care of everything."

"We compliment each other all the time," said Charity. "He's just steady. He solves problems. He's wise. When I have questions, I can always pick his brain. He has an engineering mind. He's my best friend."

As for trials or challenges, "like with everyone, money and making a living," Charity said. The Hommels owned a taxi company for 10 years.

"One of us was always behind the wheel," Charity said. "We did that for quite awhile. That helped us grow, but we got tired of the 24/7, 'go, go, go.'" Charity now works as a customer service agent for Arrowhead Transfer, local agent for Alaska Marine Lines, and Joe at Svendsen Marine Works doing finish work and repairs.

Joe advises others: "Pick the right person. Be stubborn. Resist change."

And stay together.

"We never wanted something else," Joe said. "I see a lot of people with a 'grass is always greener' mindset. Or, 'We got into an argument, we're done.'"

Don't go to bed mad, "even if it means staying up half the night hashing things out," he said.

"Our money goes into one pot," Charity said. "There is no 'your money, my money.'" And "communication is everything."

Living and being homeschooled on a boat, she never got to go to prom. In 2018, when an adult prom started in Wrangell, her husband took her to her very first prom dance.

But while Joe loves dancing, and country music, Charity said, "I couldn't ever get him to line dance."

"I still think it's dumb," he said.

Joe's feelings on line dancing notwithstanding, this May marks 25 years of marriage.

Charity said she's proud of that, and that they're in their forever home.

"We're set for the rest of our days," she said.

"Unless you're planning on leaving?" Joe asked.

"No," she replied. "I love ya."


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