Ardell and Sheryl Filler celebrated their 60th year of marriage by throwing a party for their friends, community and customers at Libby Sports Center, their store on Highway 2 in Libby.
Having a customer appreciation day with free food, giveaways of Ruger 10/22s and discounts on everything in the store isn’t necessarily a common way for store owners to celebrate their anniversary.
“That’s just the way,” Sheryl Filler said. “I, with him, like to give to others. But he is a real giver, and has been all his life. From the moment that I met him, he was just a giver.”
When it comes to why they are inspired to give, the answer for both Ardell and Sheryl is the same as why they have had a happy marriage for 60 years.
“Know the lord Jesus Christ as your savior,” Ardell Filler said. “It’s the only way, and we don’t know no other way.”
“First of all, my husband, I put him first, because he’s the head of our family,” Sheryl said. “But before him, God, of course, is the very most head of our family.”
Their relationship with Jesus is what gives them a good life and a good marriage, she said. “We don’t always agree on everything, but nobody agrees on everything.”
“And we’re both scholars of the Bible, and it tells you how to live,” Ardell said. “You’re always to think more highly of your mate than yourself, and if you do that, that makes a big difference. Most people are selfish. They think of themselves, and that don’t work.”
Thinking of others is a key to any kind of success in life, Ardell said, from staying in business for 51 years to having 60 years of happy marriage.
“Selfishness is what destroys a life,” he said. “And neither one of us have ever been selfish.”
Their daughter, Sheri Halvorson, now in her 40th year of marriage, said she sees what love can be in her parents’ example, in their selflessness and in their kindness to one another.
As for his giving nature, Ardell comes back to his faith as a source of inspiration.
“Oh, wrapped around the Lord, everything that we do and say,” he said. “Our kids were brought up that way, and we have six beautiful kids, and they all love the Lord. We just have good family, good relations, good everything.”
A homemaker most of her life, Sheryl said she supports the business from home and is proud of the work Ardell does, of their children and of the staff at the store.
“I think he’s been a very good businessman. He’s always treated people well, and they’ve treated him well,” she said of Ardell. “This has been something that he has just always enjoyed. He loves to visit with people and appreciates their business very much, and I do too.”
Art Grant, Ardell’s brother in law, was in charge of the free raffle as the Fillers gave away three Ruger 10/22 rifles. He said he is impressed with the lives that Ardell and Sheryl lead.
“For all the years they’ve been married, sure get along good,” he said. “They’re happy, and they’re good Christian people.”
Elizabeth Williams, who goes to church with the Fillers, said she appreciates how they show their faith in their lives and in their honesty.
Gary Halvorson is the Filler’s son in law, and has also helped with managing the store for the past 18 years.
As a boss, Ardell Filler is generous, but expects people to work, he said. Yet, even at 82, he also leads by example in that expectation.
“He’s a worker himself, and if you’re going to be around him, you gotta be a worker, or it ain’t gonna work,” Halvorson said. “That’s what turns his motor. He loves to work, and just enjoys this job.”
That work ethic has helped to build the business that they have today, and to assure they have a wide selection and a store that the community find welcoming, he said.
For anyone starting out in business, Ardell said his advice would be straight forward.
“It’s definitely hard work, any business you start,” he said. “You pay all your bills, and then if there’s any money left, it’s yours. Otherwise it’s not. It belongs to your creditors.”
But there is a single foundation on which all of their life is built, he said. “We pretty much depend on the Lord to lead us, and He does. My life has been amazing through knowing the Lord.”