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Far-flung siblings enjoy rare reunion

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The laughter and stories ran freely last weekend and Fourth of July as siblings Ray, George and David Wagner and Dorothy Rachar got together for only the second time in 50 years.

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The 50th wedding anniversary of Ray and Mavis Wagner are what brought the group together this time.

While it might seem odd for siblings not fighting or feuding to stay away from each other that long, it's really a matter of miles. Ray lives near Richwood, Dorothy in Canada and George and David in Australia.

Being spread out in different countries is nothing new to this group, though.

The children of a missionary couple, Ray and George were born in Africa. After their father had a bout with malaria, the family moved back to Iowa. When their father recovered, they moved to Bolivia to teach farming to the locals. There, Dorothy was born.

Their father then came down with Blackwater Fever, a complication of malaria, and the family returned to Iowa, where David was born.

"He (David) is the only foreigner," George joked.

So, being in Iowa, the children still weren't done with their travels.

In 1946, the siblings' father died, so they and their mother moved to Australia, where she was a native.

In 1953, Ray left Australia for America to serve in the Korean War. He stayed with his grandparents until he was inducted into the war.

All the children were American citizens, but their mother wasn't. When they decided to move back to the States, she wasn't allowed to enter New York because she didn't have her papers. George and David had gotten to Iowa, but Dorothy and their mother were in England, where they had relatives.

They waited six weeks before flying into Canada, which their mother could enter. By 1954, all were in Iowa, but their mother had to wait two years before she got her visa. War brides had top priority at the time.

In 1956, their mother and David moved back to Australia. Two years later, George joined them, spreading the children out to their respective areas.

When they moved apart in 1956, it wasn't until 1987 that all the siblings were back together. That time it was in Australia to see their ailing mother.

Since that time, they have visited one another, just not all together.

"Life got in the way," Dorothy said.

The siblings and other family members were in town from Friday until Wednesday this week, which George said was "not long enough."

When asked when they have their next reunion planned, George said he and his wife have another 12 years before their 50th wedding anniversary.

"I'm glad they (Ray and Mavis) survived the 50 years so we had a chance to get together," George joked.

While sitting around Ray's family room, the siblings tell stories of growing up, refusing to play with their sister, putting out backseat fires, driving on the right (or wrong) side of the road and many more.

Each time someone begins to tell another story, someone shouts out to get the duct tape, causing more laughter.

"My sides are sore from laughing," Dorothy said.

It's likely her siblings and family can agree on that one.

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