Readers Heart-Warming Accounts of Long-Lasting Romances
Theres nothing quite like a tale of true
love to bring inner warmth to a body on even the coldest of winter days. In February, with
springs verdant vivacity just beyond the horizon, there is the added delight of
Valentines Day, the lovers day.
So this month, Cooperative Living offers a sampling of some heavenly,
heart-warming accounts of long-running romances. These love stories were submitted by
readers during the past three months and are presented here as proof positive that love
makes the world go round.
Giles and Janie Johnson
Nestled in the heart of Pittsylvania County, theres a small, white
farmhouse and the old, familiar smells of tobacco barns nearby. On a typical morning
inside the house, you might find Giles and Janie Johnson reading, taking care of flowers,
or visiting with a friend or neighbor. Whats unusual about this country scene is the
fact that Giles and Janie have been lifelong companions. Married on December 24, 1925, in
a ministers home in Chatham, Virginia, the couple will soon celebrate their 75th
anniversary. When Janie Saunders was just a young 14-year-old girl, she tied a love knot
in a small cedar tree in the woods. The tree itself was used to tie the knot as a symbol
of true love. The love knot that she tied was for Giles, and if the tree lived it meant
that he loved her too. Two years later they were married, and in 1941, they bought the
farmhouse that they live in today. The cedar tree that she tied the knot in (shown in the
photo) was on this property and remains standing in their front yard today.
They believe one of the reasons for such a long marriage with very few arguments is
their deep Christian faith. They live a simple lifestyle, attending church services on
Sunday and making a weekly trip into town for groceries. They feel truly blessed by their
family of six children, 13 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren and three
great-great-grandchildren. They are seldom apart; each one seems to sense what the other
needs. My grandparents are special people, and when Im with them I feel a gentle,
loving spirit. I am reminded that their years together are a true measure of what a love
story can be.
Tamara Reynolds, granddaughter
Lawrence and Beatrice Dawson
In June 1948, Lawrence saw me on the bus which I rode to work at
Burlington Mills in Altavista. He asked a fellow worker who I was and where I lived. The
next day when our bus arrived, this worker pointed him out to me. One Sunday evening in
July, who should drive up to our house but Lawrence. Eleven months later we were married.
It was true love from the beginning, and coupled with respect for one another, has lasted
for 50 years. I think every married couple will face difficult times at some point in
their journey and ours was no different, but each valley you travel through together makes
the love deeper and the mountain top much more beautiful. The only time weve been
apart was the two years he was in the army.
We were both raised in Christian homes and were saved at a fairly early age. Shortly
after our marriage, God called Lawrence to preach. We pastored for 35 years, including
churches in Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina. Weve touched many lives and
have been touched and blessed by so many people.
In 1952, our first child, a son, was born. During the next 13 years, 3 girls were born.
They have given us very loving grandchildren to further enrich our lives.
Life is wonderful and true love is "a many splendoured thing." It is so
Robert and Marie Brouillet
Growing up in New York City, Marie Reed wanted to do something different, make a
difference. She got that chance during World War II. The U.S. Army was looking for women
volunteers to join the Army to "free a man to fight." Marie picked up recruiting
pamphlets at the subway every day on her way home from work. "My mother even said if
she were 20 years younger she would be right by my side," said the Montclair
resident. After boot camp, Marie ended up at Fort Riley, Kansas, with the Women Army
Corps. There, she became an official Army photographer. And while at Fort Riley, Marie met
a young, handsome man who had just returned from overseas named Robert Brouillet. They
fell in love and were married in September, 1946. Fifty-three years later, they are still
in love and have three children (two in Virginia and one in New York) and nine
grandchildren. "Memories enrich your lives and we have many happy ones," says
Hilda and David Walker
Our marriage of 53 years has been a real joy, even though it has withstood the
trials of raising a family, working long hours, and having a mother-in-law living in the
home for 21 years.
A dairymans life is not easy, but we both grew up on a farm and knew what it was
like to work hard and do with little at times.
Our faith in God and love for each other, and the covenant we made at the time of our
marriage in 1946 have carried us through the years. There has never been any thought of
giving up on each other and not many cross words or arguments over the years.
We have four wonderful children, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, and we
enjoy every one of them. We have tried to instill in them the true values of life and to
love each other and their fellow man. We hope they all follow in our footsteps.
Both of us are blessed with good health and look forward to more happy years together.
Hilda and David Walker
Velma and Edgar McGregor
We were married during wartime, when most everything was rationed, especially
gas for cars.
On a Saturday night in December of 1942, my husband-to-be and I went to get a blood
test to get married. We had to go about 20 miles to get the test done, so when we got back
to my home, my husband-to-be didnt have enough gas to get home and then come back on
Sunday. So he left the car, borrowed my brothers bike, and rode it home on a dark
cold night, about 10 miles.
The next morning when I looked out, the ground was white with snow, and my
husband-to-be was pushing the bike back. We were married on Jan. 20, 1943.
We didnt tell anyone we were married. We wanted to see how long we could keep our
On Valentines Day, 1943, we took a picture from the wall in my home and placed
our marriage certificate over the picture and placed it back on the living room wall. But
no one noticed it. Finally, we told everyone that we were married, but no one believed it.
As of Jan. 20, 2000, we have been married 57 years.
We live near the place where I was born and lived my whole life, on Mountain Road in
We have always tried to help each other get through the storms of life as well as the
joys of life, and trusted in God to see us through them. We are still very happy and hope
we still have some more happy years together.
Velma and Edgar McGregor
Ray and Mary Townley
It was early summer of 1939. There were momentous events about to happen, but
in one last peaceful moment of time, I sat in algebra class at the high school and
contemplated the future. The early morning streamed in the east windows and silhouetted a
young girl sitting between myself and the sunbeams. I thought I had never seen such a
beautiful girl, but I was too shy to introduce myself. Weeks later, my cousin asked me if
I would like to take a walk with her and her friend to become acquainted. To my surprise,
her friend turned out to be the girl from algebra class.
The three of us took many walks that summer, but it took me months before I could
summon up courage to hold hands with my new friend. The summer passed and I entered
college. Within a year we were solid friends. Then the war came along. I enlisted in the
U.S. Naval Reserve and served until 1946. During my service I summoned up the nerve to ask
Betts to marry me. After a moment of deliberation she said yes, and we were married in
Three children, eight grandchildren and a lifetime later, we have just celebrated our
55th wedding anniversary. Betts has been my constant companion and continues to care for
me since I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma this year. I thank God every day for her
existence and have never forgotten the young girl of the silhouette who has been my
constant companion for 60 years.
Ray C. Townley
Kathryn and Raymond Hite
I would like
to tell my story of romance. My name is Kathryn Lynn Hite. I met my husband, Raymond Hite,
when I was 14. The first time he asked me out I couldnt go. He later asked me to a
homecoming dance. He didnt drive, so his older sister took us to the dance. After
the dance, on our way home, he told me he loved me and would marry me some day. I thought,
yeah, right. I dont even know you. He started calling and we soon started dating. We
dated and by the time we were 16 were very much in love. My parents were not very happy
with the idea of me having such a serious boyfriend. They tried to discourage us and
wanted us to see other people. However, the more they disapproved, the more we wanted to
In December of 1969, he gave me a diamond. His mother would only cosign if he signed a
paper saying he would finish school. My dad was very upset and insisted I return it
immediately. In April, my dad was finished with us, and insisted we break up. Raymond
decided he would show my dad who was boss and asked me to marry him. I packed my clothes,
set them outside of my window, and left a note, telling my father of our plans. That night
we eloped! We were married on April 7, 1970 in Dillon, South Carolina. His mother cried,
and my father tried to have him arrested. The next day, I returned to finish up high
school, and he went looking for a job. We now have been married 30 wonderful years and are
very proud of our children and the accomplishments we have made.
Marriage is a lot of giving and taking. I thank God He has blessed our marriage. I
firmly believe in commitment. We have four children and two grandchildren. If I could give
advice to anyone, it would be to put God first in everything and He will direct your path
Kathryn Lynn Hite
Charlie and Marcia Hall
It was November 11, 1959. A special day because it was a holiday and a day off
from work. As usual, when time allowed, I was working on my car, a 1954 Ford. After making
a repair, I asked the girl who was waiting for her ride if she would like to accompany me
on a test drive. She said yes.
The race was on..."Boy chases girl, Girl catches boy!"
Back then we lived in New England where the winters were cold enough to support outdoor
ice skating. As it turns out, this girl had been "noticing" me while ice skating
at the local school. Well, the next thing I knew we were married and living in an
apartment in Rochester, New Hampshire.
A few years later, we started an exercise program, part of which was running. We fell
in love with running as we had fallen in love with each other. It was something we could
do together, although not at the same pace. I trained for and ran a marathon. She
supported, cheered and encouraged me.
As time has passed, it seems that my race speeds have been slowing. Lately, my partner
and I have been running side by side in races.
On September 3, 2000, we will celebrate 40 years of delightful marriage. Good things
come to those with patience. Even a "long-running" romance.
Charlie and Marcia Hall
Les and Sally Logan
The first time I saw my wife, Sally, she was only a few hours old.
I was almost five at the time. Id known both of her parents before they had even
met each other. Her dad and mine both worked for the railroad. When her mother moved into
our neighborhood, it was my mother who played matchmaker.
I clearly remember when Sallys mom was pregnant with her. And I remember watching
as my mother changed her diapers when she babysat her. It was my job to entertain her
because she fussed less around me.
When Sally learned to walk, she took her first steps to me.
My family moved away when I was eight. We only saw each other once during the next 16
years. But whenever I dreamed of being married, it was always Sally who was my wife.
We began to correspond while I was deployed to Vietnam with the U.S. Navy in 1966. When
I returned I went to visit her at Christmas. We dated for a week or so and then decided to
get married. That was 33 years ago.
We now have a 23-year-old son who is a staff writer for a newspaper in Florida where he
lives with his wife and our 18-month-old grandson.
We were childhood sweethearts a little over a half century ago. Does that qualify as a
Les and Sally Logan
Doris and Phil Arrington
True romance is a joy and delight. I found that romance in 1955 when I married
my high school sweetheart, Phillip M. Arrington. We were both just 16 years old. Without a
high school diploma, good jobs were hard to find. So we lived with Phils parents for
six months. In March of 1956, we set up housekeeping on our own, and became members of
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative. We proudly hung our membership certificate on the wall
beside our marriage license (it was all we had).
I would always find little love notes tucked here and there and everywhere from Phil.
One morning I went into the kitchen and on the counter he had spelled out "I Love
You" with flowering cherry blossoms he had picked from the tree in our back yard. We
didnt have much, but we had love. In 1957, we were blessed with a fine son, and
later two beautiful daughters followed. We worked hard, grew up fast, and the years flew
by. We had hard times and our share of troubles, but our strong love and prayers always
pulled us through.
In 1974, we built Phils Garage, and on Nov. 20, 1999, we celebrated 25 years at
this establishment. On Nov. 12, 1999, we celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary and we
both became 61 years old. Life has been good to us. We still work side by side. Were
still members of Mecklenburg Electric Co-op. and were still in love.
Doris Reese Arrington
Mary Ann and Larry Muse
The "Love of My Life" first walked into my life when I was 13 years
old!!! My best friend in junior high school had invited me to a mutual friends home
for a party and it was at this party that I first saw Larry. From that night on,
destiny was at work!
Several months later, Christmas week 1946 to be exact, the same friend called to see if
I could go to an afternoon movie with her and her friend. (I remembered that cute fellow I
had met a while back.) My mother agreed with an early evening curfew. This movie
date was the beginning of what is now a love affair that has lasted 53 years!
Larry helped me through high school, encouraging me all the way. College had been in my
future plans, but I knew marriage would be in the forefront!! Nine days after my
graduation (June 17, 1950), we were married by the same minister who had baptized me as a
little girl. I was so much in love a 17-year-old girl with stars filling my head.
Reverend Clark arrived to perform our wedding in his black top hat and tails. What a
We have now retired from our plumbing and heating business of 42 years to spend the
autumn of our years in the country in which Larry was born 72 years ago, Middlesex on the
Rappahannock River. God has blessed us with three wonderful children and four beautiful
grandchildren. We thank God every day for this wonderful life he has granted to us.
Mary Ann Muse
Joe and Mae Mills
Our romance began in 1938, under my mothers quilting frame in our home in
The neighborhood ladies, including my future mother-in- law, gathered at our home once
a week to spend an afternoon quilting and visiting. When the quilting frame was lowered
from its suspended position to the proper height for working, there was left a perfect
area underneath for two three-year-olds to play.
As we grew, we advanced to chasing one another around the yard with a toy lawn mower.
But when I was five, my family moved to Washington, DC due to my fathers work.
During the next few years we sent Christmas cards but did not see each other again
until one snowy day in 1943. During my familys visit to Adamsville, Zula Mae taught
me the art of playing with paper dolls cut from a Sears and Roebuck catalog. "Never
bend them at the waist," was one of the many things my wife of 46 years has taught
Our relationship picked up momentum, at least on my part, when at the age of 16, I
visited Zula Mae on her birthday and presented her with a necklace for which she gave me
our first sweet kiss.
We continued to send letters and cards throughout our high school days. Zula Mae had a
lot going on in her life like horses, boys, basketball, and school probably in that
In the early summer of 1953, shortly after our senior year in high school, my friend
Donny McDaniel and I drove down to Adamsville. It was during that visit that I came to
know a truth that has lasted a lifetime I loved Zula Mae Seaton.
After a few months, I returned to propose marriage and she accepted! Our circumstances
werent the best. We had no jobs, no money, no car, and no place to live. But to two
18-year-olds it was exciting. We set the wedding date for Christmas day, only two short
I returned to Washington, DC to earn some money and prepare to move down to Tennessee.
When I returned on December 21, we decided to elope right away. We simply couldnt
wait until Christmas. So, we hired a taxi cab, and, with Margaret Littlefield as our
bridesmaid, we drove to Corinth, Mississippi and got married. The taxi driver stood up as
best man. Two days later, we caught a Greyhound bus to Memphis where we made our first
home in a two-room apartment with a shared bath and lots of dreams.
In the 46 years since, Mae and I have been blessed with two children, Relda and Matt;
two grandchildren, Robin and Rina; and a fine son-in-law, Kyle. We are now happily
enjoying our retirement years in Colonial Beach near our children.
Our theme song was Nat King Coles "They Tried to Tell Us Were Too
Young." We may have been, but after 46 years together no one could say that anymore!
Paul and Joan Tshirlig
If pressure is what changes a piece of coal into a diamond, then my husband,
Paul, is a real gem! Looking back over the 39 years weve been married brings a
mixture of joy and admiration for the small and grand gestures that make for a storybook
romance; ours is one. Like so many young couples starting out, we clung to each other for
assurance and hope that the life ahead of us would bring promise, happiness and a rich
experience. We were tested from the start.
The blizzard that greeted us that February morning as we married at St. Michaels
Church seemed to foretell the years to come. With as many memories as those snowflakes, I
now reflect on the beauty and the courage of my life partner, my best friend and the love
of my life.
Standing by my side through three childbirths, several miscarriages, illness, lean
Christmases, soup-and-sandwich suppers, nine operations, months in a wheelchair, laying to
rest my father, mother and brother in less than a year, and so many other dark days...he
was always there for me. His eyes and loving words healed me.
Looking back on the many diapers he changed, bottles he warmed, hours he worked,
boo-boos he kissed and bills he paid, he was the quintessential dad. Sitting by their
beds, his fatherly love encouraged our daughter through brain surgery and our son through
diabetes. He marched proudly by my side, and wore a yellow ribbon for our first-born
serving in Saudi Arabia. And now, with the memory of school plays, braces for their teeth,
sports practice, college tuition and walking his little girl down the aisle, we move into
middle age with grace and laughter...together.
As impossible as describing the taste of chocolate is it to describe our life together
to date...but perhaps, the best is yet to be, with my diamond and me.
Lyn and Ed Durrwachter
People let me tell you bout my best friend, hes a warm-hearted
person and hell love me till the end." These are the lyrics from a song back in
the 60s, but they describe my husband to a "T." Our romance began with an
unexpected kiss. He was leaving for a tour of duty with Uncle Sam back in the 50s. I
kissed him goodbye very shyly and then wrote to him and sent him home-baked cookies. We
didnt know each other well then, but when he came home two years later it was a
On one of our first real dates, we talked for hours! He told me of his abusive
childhood and his yearning to be loved. My heart melted and I wanted to be the one to love
and care for him the rest of our lives.
Weve had 42 years together. Like most folks weve faced challenges of every
sort both emotional and financial. When my father died in 1991, we clung to each other as
never before. We both lost "our" Dad.
We are now retired and live in our dream home on Lake Anna. We enjoy these golden years
playing with our five grandchildren, visiting with friends, sharing what we have with
others and cruising the lake to see the sunset. Were more in love with each other
Sam and Mary Tropea
Mary was a charming Irish, blond beauty and I was an Italian, aspiring college
senior when I first laid eyes on her in late 1965. I remember it well because she was
kneeling in quiet prayer at Christ Church in Washington, DC when I received the divine
revelation that I would like to know this devout person better. After a few dates and an
18-month courtship, that genteel, lovely lady became my darling wife. How quickly the
ensuing 32 years have passed since we joined our lives together, for better or worse, on
September 9, 1967.
Fortunately, most has been for the better. For the better, we have enjoyed a happy
marriage, worshiping, working and travelling to nearly every state in our beautiful
country. Also we have been blessed with four wonderful children, three special sons-in-law
and, so far, four beautiful grandchildren.
During the worse, my dear wife stood faithfully by me when I was diagnosed with chronic
lymphatic leukemia in April 1996, and underwent a bone marrow transplant in January 1998.
I am now cancer-free thanks to our wonderful Lord, my wife and family, my sister-donor, my
oncologist Richard Cambereri of Manassas, the Georgetown University Hospital BMT doctors
and staff, plus the support and prayers of our many friends at church, neighborhood, and
Well, honey, the children are all gone so lets turn out the lights, snuggle up,
and enjoy many more years of our marriage made in heaven.
Pat and William Simmons
When I was three, we moved to Aspen Hill in the village of Fincastle. I went
out to play and looked across the street. Out onto the front porch came a seven-year-old
boy, dressed in brown knickers, a tan button-up sweater, a cap on the back of his head and
a shock of beautiful blond curly hair. My heart did a double flip can a
three-year-old really fall in love? When I was a bit older I was allowed to play
"Track the Fox" and "Kick the Can" I was scared of those kids
but wanted to be near HIM. I was in the seventh grade when he was a senior he
viewed me as a pest. The Second World War came. He left and got his wings; I had other
friends. However, when I was a high school senior, the war was over. I walked upstreet and
there he was, leaning against Boltons Store with the same curly blond hair. He saw
ME! We were married three years later and still live on Aspen Hill. Our three children
have splendid spouses. Five "perfect" grandchildren and grand cats complete our
family. July 15, 1999 was our 50th anniversary. Bill is always my favorite partner
in church, golf, bridge all endeavors. God has blessed our union.
George and Elizabeth McKinney
My husband and I met on a Greyhound bus. That was over 30 years ago.
My husband was on the bus going home to Virginia from Ohio. I was going home for summer
break from college.
My husband looked out the bus window and told his friend that the little blond standing
in line at the bus station would be his wife. His friend thought he was joking.
When I got on the bus, it was packed. My husband-to-be told his friend to get up and
give me his seat. He introduced himself. He was good looking, friendly and had the cutest
smile I had ever seen.
He came to see me that summer. He called often. When I went back to college in the
fall, he even called my girlfriend and my apartment. He had gotten the number from my
mother. I was graduating in January and was really busy, so we lost touch for a few years.
After a few years, he called and we got together. We dated a few times. I knew that he
was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, and he felt the same way. We were
married about a month later.
We will celebrate our 32nd wedding anniversary March 1 of this year. I still feel the
same way. I want to spend the rest of my life with this wonderful fellow.
Our love is as strong as ever. It seems that we have been married forever. He smiles
and says this is the way love was meant to be forever!
Elizabeth H. McKinney