While growing up in West Millford, West Virginia, Ruth and Andy became friends in their teenage years. Andy was a senior in high school and was very active in sports. He played on the football team, and Ruth became attracted to him when she was a freshman. They began dating when Andy was 17, and Ruth was 14. Andy graduated and went off to Potomac State Junior College to play football but had always wanted to learn to fly. After taking lessons, Andy entered the U.S. Navy and because a WWII pilot. Ruth was enrolled at the University of West Virginia. It was at that time that she realized that she and Andy had something special together because they both missed each other. Ruth finished college at W.V.U. and began to teach junior high while Andy was still in the service. She only taught for one year, realizing she wanted a different lifestyle. Andy returned from WWII and in June of 1946, they became husband and wife. As of today, they have been married 72 years. Andy and Ruth have two children, one daughter and one son and three grandchildren. They moved to Danville, Virginia in 1956. Andy was in sales and Ruth became a social worker. They eventually became owners of Danville Lumber Company. This provided them with a great life. Andy and Ruth loved to travel together with their favorite places being in the United States. “There are just so many beautiful places here,” says Ruth. Andy and Ruth continue to live a great life at Stratford House in Danville, Virginia. They have been residents of our community for 3 years. When asked if they could pass on some advice to younger couples today Ruth stated, “Just be sure you know each other well.” One thing is for sure, Andy and Ruth really know each other well after 72 years of wonderful marriage.
The two met when Bob was 25 years old, and Anna was 20. She was still living with her parents and her mother had health issues. Her father provided for the family, but her mother was not able to care for the children. Since Anna was the oldest, she took care of all her siblings and some cousins that lived with them. Between caring for all the children and working another job, that didn’t leave much time for Anna to have fun. However, she did have time to date a man who worked with Bob on the USS Battleship New Jersey. The ship was being rebuilt at the Philadelphia Shipyard to go to Vietnam. Apparently, Anna’s parents didn’t care for sailors and didn’t want their daughter to date any. Anna worked as a telephone operator for Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania and was able to have a relationship on “the down low” with her boyfriend by calling him every day while she was at work. On this particular day, fate stepped in and Anna’s boyfriend wasn’t around when she called for him. Bob was off duty and was relaxing and watching TV. The phone rang, and for some inexplicable reason, he answered the phone using a Scottish accent. The hit it off, and she started calling every night to speak with the Scottish man! About a month later, Bob gathered the nerve and asked Anna out. She agreed to meet him at the 69th subway station. She told him she’d be wearing a red coat. Of course, he spotted her easily and thought she was pretty. They shared a slice of pizza and a coke from a street vendor with Bob using the accent the whole date. They kept meeting at the same spot for quite some time, and Bob decided it was time to drop the accent and meet the parents. Obviously, Anna took the charade well and had a good laigh about the whole thing. Right away, Bob’s good demeanor and charm won over Anna’s parents, and they started depending on him to help out around the house with whatever needed to be done. They had him over for dinner once a week as part of the family. Bob and Anna married 2 years later. They have 2 sons and a beagle named Daisy. Anna is one of our wonderful residents, and Bob visits her every day.
Elizabeth and Charlie met in 1941. Elizabeth was 16 years old and was leaving a church meeting in Poquoson when she heard a firetruck siren for the first time in her life. Charlie was 19 at the time and living in Hampton when he and his friends heard the fire trucks, and decided to follow them to see what was happening. As it turns out, Poquoson didn’t have a fire department, and there was a boat accident. So Hampton fire department was called to the scene. Elizabeth and her friends and Charlie and his friends happened to meet at the scene and exchanged names and numbers. Shortly after, Charlie showed up at Elizabeth’s door to ask her to go on a date, which just so happened to be the beginning of the rest of their life. The two have been married 75 years and still counting. Elizabeth fell in love with Charlie’s accent and good looks. Charlie loved that she was so outgoing. They dated for 10 months before getting married. They had 6 children, 15 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. While Charlie was away in the Navy, Elizabeth stayed with his parents to learn how to cook all of his favorite meals. Afterwards, Charlie worked the livestock stables for 30 years, working 7 days a week. Elizabeth stayed home with the kids. Their whole life was focused around their family and trying to make them happy. They always made their children and other children feel loved and safe. Charlie and Elizabeth always went to bed at the same time and woke up at the same time, no matter what. Their children say when they hear the song, “Remember When” by Alan Jackson, they think of their parents. Their advice to young couples is to try and agree or at least talk and work it out. Always stick together through thick and thin.
Elmo met Louise in the spring of 1953. She was living right up the street from where he was staying. One afternoon when her sister came into town, Louise came and dragged Elmo down to introduce him to her sister. They married a little over a year later in 1954 and had three children, two boys and a girl. Louise told Elmo every day that she did not know what she would have done if she would not have met him. Elmo says, “I fell in love with her because I guess I was crazy.” “She and I got along really well, and of course she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen.” “Over the length of our marriage, she did get fat two or three times, but that was when she was pregnant with our kids. So I guess that was alright,” he laughs. “She also was very outspoken. As a matter of fact, I believe that she asked me to marry her! She had a good government job, she worked in the personnel management position.” Elmo’s advice to young couples is that marriages take a lot of investment. “When you get married, you can’t just do what you want anymore. You have to give and take, and you have to put work in.” Louise and Elmo used to put a little money aside when they wanted something, and when they had enough, they went and got it together. They never bought anything on credit. “Always pay cash. Young couples should remember that.”
Eugene and Marie have a unique love story. They found each other when Eugene was in the French Navy, and Marie was just going out with her family to a French dance in New York City. They held French dances for the sailors coming into shore, and Eugene just happened to be at this one. They talked for the rest of the night, dancing and smiling the whole time. When they parted ways that night, they kept in touch through letters for three full years. She wrote him nearly every day, and he wrote as much as he could. In 1946, Gene moved to America just after Christmas. So Marie waited to celebrate until he was there. He was all the present that Marie needed that Christmas, and she was all he wanted too. They were married April 12th of the next year, and that’s when they truly started to get to know each other. He took her out of a bad family situation and worked two to three jobs so she could stay home with the kids. They have been with each other for over 70 years now, and they still share that same love with the same kisses. They fell for each other’s personalities from the beginning. The communication that they have held with the other has been vital in their relationship. They always focused on learning more about the other person.
Frank and Betty met while in grade school and continued in the same school through high school. But it wasn’t until Frank returned home after serving two years in the Navy that he decided to reach out to Betty’s mother to see if she was still single. They reunited and married that fall in 1948. Frank says he fell in love with Betty because she was so sweet and was always well dressed. Betty says she fell in love with Frank because he’s polite and a good kisser. Betty’s advice for young couples is to learn new things together. The more you do and experience together, the stronger the bond. These two should know. They have been married 67 years and known each other for 75.
Jean Turnman was 53 years old in 1985 when a man she did not even know began calling her, begging her to go on a date with him. At the time, she had no interest in seeking another love after her first husband had passed, and she had created her own life without a companion. As fate would have it, this man- her future husband, Garver, persisted and on the fourth phone call, she finally agreed to go out with him. Their first date was a trip to Mount Airy, North Carolina during which they enjoyed a dinner followed by riding around town and ended up going to a dance. Afterwards, he drive her home and as Jean recalls, “the light started burning”. After their first date, they became inseparable. Because they had so many common interests, they were able to enjoy the same hobbies, and everyday activities became labors of love for the two of them. Four years later, they wed and were married for 30 years. Garver built the house that they spent their years in and tended to a huge garden that they shared with their neighbors. As Jean tells it, Some men have their golf, and Garver had his garden.” Jean remembers their time together as “heaven on earth” and wished she had met him 30 years earlier. Her advice to young couples is to not fall in love too quickly but to give yourself time.
Ruth was a freshman in college when she met her husband, Herbert Hank Hoover. She was studying to become an elementary school teacher. He admired her hard work and dedication to her studies. Ruth loved the way Herbert would talk about traveling and his dreams to fly everywhere he possibly could. They hit it off almost immediately. It seemed they were the perfect match. According to Ruth, he had the best sense of humor and made her the happiest she had ever been. Before long, they were married at the Stanley Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. He soon made her fall in love with traveling as he was a pilot. They took tons of trips all over the country together. Ruth says, “I loved flying with him. He took me everywhere! It is hard to say that I had a favorite place he took me because as long as I was with him on the trip, every place was perfect. I wish I could tell you I had a favorite place he flew me, but every place was my favorite.” Together, they had a son named “Hank”. When Hank was in the first grade, they lost their beloved Herbert. He was killed while testing an airplane. Ruth says, The time we had together was beautiful. He was such a wonderful and brilliant man. He was so wonderful to me, absolutely outstanding.” We asked Ruth what her advice to young couples today is. She answered, “Be sure you find the right one and love each other. Love will get you through.”
Juanita met her husband of 52 years, Jackie, when she was in the 4th grade. They kept in touch for several years as friends and then dated seriously for two years before they decided to get married at the age of 20. Juanita was a second grade teacher, and Jackie worked as a mail carrier and at the Hosiery Mill. They had a beautiful home in Cana, Virginia surrounded by apple and peach trees that they worked for several years. In their precious 52 years of marriage, some very wonderful memories include the births of their two children, Janie and Jonathan. Juanita and Jackie enjoyed spending time with their parents and going back to their home place and watching their four grandchildren grow and learn. Juanita adored Jackie, and he adored her. Three things Juanita loved about Jackie were his smile, the way he hugged her tight, and that he was a good daddy to their two children. Juanita said when she met Jackie she just knew he was “the one”. Throughout their many years of marriage, they had several values as a couple. A few included being Christian and setting a good example for others. Also working hard for what they had. Juanita’s advice to give to young couples today would be to trust God that he has sent you the right soulmate.
Juanita was in high school when she first saw her husband. She didn’t meet him that day, but she’s never forgotten it either. He was a senior, and she was a freshman. Their school was having a pep rally. She was sitting in the bleachers when the seniors marched in. The person sitting next to her stood up and yelled “hey Whitey!” Jim threw up his hand in acknowledgement. To this day, Juanita has never forgotten that moment. She can still hear the band playing and the smile on his face. Life went on. He graduated and went into the Navy, and Juanita finished high school. She began working in a law office as a secretary. One day, she and her coworkers went to a local diner for lunch, and there in his Navy dress whites sat Jim. One of her coworkers knew him. So naturally, she took them all over to say hello. They sat down and had a great lunch. As they were eating lunch and talking Juanita remembered a dream she had a year prior. In her dream, a man dressed in white stood before her and a voice was saying, “This is the man you will marry.” They enjoyed a conversation and meal and parted ways. Unbeknownst to Juanita, her friend had given Jim her number. He called later that night. They went out that night to the movies and had a wonderful time. He had to return to his Navy ship and base in Florida the following day. He wrote a letter to Juanita while he was out to sea. Time passed and when his time in the Navy was up, he returned home and called. Juanita was elated to hear from him. That Christmas, they were engaged. The man in white would become her husband.
Margaret and Jim met in high school. Margaret was on the cheerleading squad with Jim’s sister, and Jim would bribe his sister to get brief moments alone with Margaret. Jim has been living with cerebral palsy his whole life. When asked what made them fall in love, Margaret says that it was his kindness and his courage. They were traits that won her heart. The two will have been married for 57 years this February. Their advice for young couples: “Stay passionate about your dreams and about each other. Be curious and adventurous, but keep your heart where it belongs.”
On August 28th, Jim and Marge will celebrate 63 years of marriage. They began dating in high school and continued through college where Marge wore Jim’s sweetheart pin from his fraternity, Sigma Chi. They were engaged Christmas of their senior year. But their story began much earlier as they were in the same kindergarten in 1937. Marge says she doesn’t remember Jim, and yet he’s sitting in the same row with her in their class picture. In 7th grade, Marge remembers seeing Jim in study hall and thinking he would be nice to date. By sophomore year, he was walking her home from football games and dances. She was thrilled when they started “going steady”, and in their senior year, they were voted King and Queen at the Sweetheart Dance. They both attended and graduated from Bowling Green State University. From there, Jim spent two years in the Marine Corps, and they were stationed at Cherry Point Air Station in North Carolina. Marge says that Cliff has been the love of her life. They have two sons, one daughter, seven grandchildren and three great grandsons. Their advice for young couples is to always listen to each other and never go to bed mad.
Mary Lowe had just graduated from Meredith College in the late 1940’s when she began teaching 4th grade at an elementary school in Lowgap, North Carolina. While employed there, she lived at a nearby boarding house with the other teachers at the school. Junior Lowe had just returned from the war and happened to see Ms. Mary and a few of her friends as they were walking into a local gas station. When he saw her, he wished to know who she was and asked his friend who replied by telling him it was the local “McKinney girl”. A few days later, Junior went to the boarding house, knocked on the door, and was greeted by the tenant. When asked who he was there to see, he could not remember the name his friend had told him, and he requested to see the “Kennedy girl”. The tenant, of course, had no idea who he was talking about and said their was a McKinney that he could see. Mary made her way to the door, and they spent their first “date” talking through the screen of the boarding house. This was the beginning of 67 years they spent together. When asked why she fell in love, Mary responded by saying that he was a very decisive man that had a great sense of humor. Their son, Dennis, shared stories of his days working with his father. He said that when they would take a break after a short period, Junior would declare, “Let’s do something- even if it’s wrong.” Mary looks back at their time spent as wonderful and feels lucky to have been able to spend such a span of time with her late husband. Her advice to young couples is to “love each other and to work together.”
Laurence met his sweetheart, Rosa in 1939. They went to school together and soon became high school sweethearts. Laurence wanted to make sure he looked nice. So he would press his pants himself on his mama’s old stove. Laurence moved to West Virginia where he began to work, but he and Rosa continued to correspond through letters. It was through those letters that he fell in love with her. They were married in York, South Carolina on September 7th, 1947. He was 18, and she was 17. He jokingly says of that day that she had $50, and he only had $30 but they were in love. A friend of his offered him a job in Williamsburg on a dairy farm. Laurence said he was paid $35/week and that was “big money”. While in Williamsburg, he saved up and bought a house with Rosa in Carroll County, Virginia in 1955. Soon thereafter, a man from Floyd offered him $75 very two weeks to work on his farm. For the next 12 years, he would spend his days on the dairy farm. Rosa worked as a waitress at the infamous (to us Floyd folks) Blue Ridge Restaurant in Floyd, VA. In addition to her waitressing, Rosa also was a nurse at a retirement home in Floyd. When asked what Laurence loved most about Rosa, he said “everything.” Laurence reminisces about Rosie’s good cooking. He tells us that she could make the best pies and biscuits you ever had in your life! Laurence says every night before bed, he tells Rosa he loves her and is sorry for everything he’s ever done wrong. Laurence finishes by says, “If we die tomorrow, we’ll be together in heaven. She’s my sweetheart and always will be.” Their love story us about hard work, dedication and appreciating each other.
The Armstrongs met on a bus trip with Corinth Baptist Church. Melvin’s brother and his wife suggested they meet as they were both widowed. They’ve been together for 34 years, and they say it was love at first sight, an answered prayer for them both. Their advice for young couples is to marry for love. Do so for the good and the bad. Marriage is a union that is sacred and binding, not a convenience. Do so with a lifelong commitment.
Merlin met the woman of his dreams in 1945 when the war was still going on. He knew instantly that he was going to marry her. He explains, “I was out with my friends at a football game, and we had to sneak out through the back gate. As we were sneaking out, I ran into the most gorgeous, red headed woman that I had ever set eyes upon.” “She was just standing next to the gate with a friend. My friend and I began arguing over which one of us was going to talk to the red headed woman. I told him that he was to take the taller one since he was taller than I was and that the red headed woman was mine!” During their courtship, Gloria wrote to Merlin every single day. Because of that, he knew that she was meant to be his. They married less than a year later in August of 1946. Her name was Gloria Joyce Jemison. She told Merlin that she was proud of her name and would never take his last name, and she never did. They were married for 64 years and 18 days. Over those years, they had ten children. Merlin’s advice for young couples is to make sure that they have the right one.
Raymond Frese is one of the sweetest residents you’ll meet. He served in the Airforce and flew over 100 missions to protect our freedom. During this time in the military, he found the love of his life and his wife. He was a military man, so he didn’t meet many people off the base normally unless he went to a military ball. And that is exactly where he met his wife. They had been together for almost 60 years and had a beautiful family. Raymond liked to garden with Edith and help take care of the children. He had a hard time answering what he liked most about her because he said he liked everything about her, including her flaws. There was no one thing he had to cling onto to remember why he was in love with her. It was just her. Though Edith passed away in 1997, Ray still thinks of her often. The one piece of advice he gives to young couples is to always be truthful no matter what. Honesty is the thing that makes the relationship great, even if the honesty hurts.
Ida was in high school in Scottsburg, VA and decided to go to a dance with her sisters and brothers. It was at this dance that they met. Ida was 3 years younger than Red, but she agreed to go out with him. Red lived in Denniston (Alton) with his family, and Ida lived on the other side of the county. Some of her sisters and brothers already knew him. So they were allowed to go out. Back then it was very common for the family to come along when a couple was going for a group date. Everyone would dress in their Sunday clothes to go to the lake. They have many pictures at Buggs Island Lake and Kerr Dam where they went on many dates with most of Ida’s family. Idea and Red had dated for awhile when Red was called to join the Army. At the time, the Korean War was happening and Red enlisted. He made Ida promise that she would not get married while he was gone. He even bought her a ring. She promised that she would do nothing until he returned. He was stationed in Germany and sent many letters and pictures while he was there. He also bought her a beautiful set of China and had it sent home for her. When he returned home, they decided to get married on June 30, 1953. They went to the preacher’s house near the North Carolina/Virginia line and exchanged vows. The preacher’s wife was the witness. The honeymooned in Myrtle Beach, SC and lived happily ever after.
Jean and Richard met in 1955 in Northern Maine. When Richard met Jean, she was dating someone else. Time went by, and the next time Richard saw her he asked her to go bowling. She said yes! Richard was in the air force for many years while Jean was a school teacher. When asked what made them fall in love, Richard said, “I liked her, and I guess she liked me too.” They married a year after they met in 1956 and have been together ever since.
Anita was in her early twenties when she was introduced to the man she would later call her husband. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and spent a lot of her time on Coney Island going on dates with a man named Robert. Although it was not love at first sight, Anita said, It didn’t take me long to know I was going to marry that man.” Robert was a military man who entered into World War II, in December 1942. He was a kind, gentle and patriotic man. After a couple of months, he married Anita and was shipped out to New Guinea. Together they had three children, one of which was adopted. “We spent a perfect 74 years together, never had a fight,” Anita explained. Anita fell in love with Robert’s dancing. It was her favorite thing about him besides his blonde hair. They danced for over thirty years together. Her nickname for him was “Charlie boy”. Anita knew how to dance but always followed Robert’s steps. They danced all over Brooklyn doing the jitterbug and the hardest dance, the Peabody. Anita and Robert were flawless when they stepped on the dance floor together. Everyone’s eyes were locked on them as they danced the Peabody. To this day, Anita’s favorite thing to do is to reminisce about Robert. She carries pictures of him in her purse and never has a bad word to say about him. Every day, Anita sits by the Wall of Valor to talk to her beloved Robert and lets him know how she loves him and misses him. Robert was 94 years old when he lost his brave battle to cancer this past year. Anita was by his side through the good and bad, no matter what. Anita’s advice for young couples today is “don’t fight, we never fought! The key to a long-lasting love is to be gentle and put your loved one first. I can’t wait until the day I meet him again.”
Tom and June were married in 1955 in New Bedford, MA. They have been married for 62 years. These lovebirds met while working on New Bedford at the Nabisco Corporation. June worked in the office, and Tom was a sales representative. Tom looked at June and thought she had the most beautiful smile and asked her to a movie. That movie led to a six month courtship that had Tom on one knee asking June to marry him. Tom will tell you they had a wonderful and full like, two children and four grandchildren along with two great grandchildren to help fill their life with even more joy! They are truly best friends, and when asked if they had a mantra they lived by, Tom will tell you that they always kissed goodnight and never went to bed mad. They enjoyed vacationing in New Hampshire in a little place called Gorham. Gorham is a beautiful, little town, and they loved it so much they bought a second home there. June was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s this year, and Tom’s love for her still sparkles in his eyes. When June was asked what has kept their marriage so special all these years, she responded by telling us they have a special connection. A love that transcends time even when one might have days when she can’t remember that special vacation place. But she always remembers and can feel the special connection with Tom.
Betty was 17 or 18 years old when she met her husband. He was working on the turn pike surveying and boarding with a good friend of hers whose name was Twilla Lilly. She had told Betty about this man, and one day when in the grocery story with her niece, Betty met Twilla’s son, Carthy. Her future husband, William Jack McCann (Bill) happened to be with him, and Carthy introduced them. After that, Bill began coming to her house. He would come down on Saturdays, and they would go out together. They dated until he joined the Army during the war. Bill was on the list to be drafted, so he went ahead and signed up. He was stationed in Germany for two years. Betty wrote him the whole time he was gone. When he came home, she was working at a store in Beckley. He would pick her up from work often for dates. One night, they went to the restaurant that was next door just to get something to drink. That’s when he pulled a little box out of his pocket. Inside was the ring set. He said, “Do you still want to get married?” She said yes! So after about a month, they ran down to Parisburg to a minister’s home and got married. This July would have been 60 years of marriage for them. He died 10 months ago from congestive heart failure. “He was a handsome, good looking man,” Betty says. “A loving person.” They had two children together. Barry Jack and Marcela Lynn. Barry also passed away recently. Advice that Betty would give to other couples would be, “Stay together, love each other and do for each other. Bill always did things for me that I never expected him to do.”
“Know each other well.”
While growing up in West Millford, West Virginia, Ruth and Andy became friends in their teenage years. Andy was a senior in high school and was very active in sports. He played on the football team, and Ruth became attracted to him when she was a freshman. They began dating when Andy was 17, and Ruth was 14.
Andy graduated and went off to Potomac State Junior College to play football but had always wanted to learn to fly. After taking lessons, Andy entered the U.S. Navy and because a WWII pilot. Ruth was enrolled at the University of West Virginia. It was at that time that she realized that she and Andy had something special together because they both missed each other. Ruth finished college at W.V.U. and began to teach junior high while Andy was still in the service. She only taught for one year, realizing she wanted a different lifestyle. Andy returned from WWII and in June of 1946, they became husband and wife. As of today, they have been married 72 years.
Andy and Ruth have two children, one daughter and one son and three grandchildren. They moved to Danville, Virginia in 1956. Andy was in sales and Ruth became a social worker.
They eventually became owners of Danville Lumber Company. This provided them with a great life. Andy and Ruth loved to travel together with their favorite places being in the United States. “There are just so many beautiful places here,” says Ruth.
Andy and Ruth continue to live a great life at Stratford House in Danville, Virginia.
They have been residents of our community for 3 years.
When asked if they could pass on some advice to younger couples today Ruth stated, “Just be sure you know each other well.” One thing is for sure, Andy and Ruth really know each other well after 72 years of wonderful marriage.