The most fabulous benefit of having a blog is all the wonderful folks it brings into your life. I have truly met some of the nicest Dearhearts over the past two years. Recently, I was chatting with Phyllis and she shared a little about her wonderful parents and their life together. It’s the most perfect love story and with Valentine’s Day only a few days away, I knew I had to share it with you.
Phyllis told me her parents, Bill and Tomi, are in their 90s! Her dad was born in 1916 and is 94 years young and her mom, born in 1920, is 91 now.
Last November, they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary! Wow! They were married in November 1939 and have been married 71 amazing years! For their 70th Wedding Anniversary, there was a big celebration with over 350 people in attendance!
This is Phyllis with her parents (Bill and Tomi) at their 70th Wedding Anniversary celebration. Phyllis and her husband, Bob have been married 47 years!
Phyllis’ Dad is one of three surviving members of his high school class…the Class of 1934! This photo was taken when they were riding in their Home Coming Parade in Rochester, Texas.
Bill and Tomi attended Bill’s college reunion at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. I asked Phyllis about the medal her dad is wearing in the photo below. She said, “It is the Golden Guard medal awarded to graduates after being out of school for 50 years. Each year a special luncheon is held and the new recipients come to accept their medals. The medallions are blessed and considered to be a true keepsake.”
Phyllis, told me her dad is the only living member of his college graduating class. Phyllis said her dad jokes he is “the last bird on the roof.” I think having a good sense of humor must be vital to a long, happy life.
I asked Phyllis if her parents would mind sharing a little about their lives together over the last 71 years. I was so excited when Phyllis told me that they said, yes! I e-mailed over just 5 questions and Phyllis jotted down her parent’s answers. Their story is one of perseverance, selfless giving to others and a deep respect and love for each other. I hope you enjoy this beautiful Valentine’s Day love story about two very special people.
Where did you meet and when did you marry?
Bill was the new coach in my mom’s hometown. He had just moved to his new school position the first of September 1939. We met while walking down the sidewalk. We did not own cars as very few people had cars in our town and people walked everywhere they wanted to go. The meeting was not exactly by chance as I, (Tomi) had seen him and heard about him from my sister who was in high school. I wanted to meet him and maybe date him. Our paths crossed, luckily, and we introduced ourselves. I invited him to church the next Sunday and the rest is history. We married on a Friday evening, November 2, 1939, after knowing each other for just a few short weeks; however, we knew that we were in love. We married in the home of Bill’s high school principal and he (the principal) invited all the faculty to come at 7:00pm for a teacher’s meeting with refreshments. No one knew they would be attending a wedding.
The principal’s wife made a wedding cake, punch and decorated the parlor with flowers. Bill wore a suit and tie and Tomi wore a blue velvet dress. When the guests arrived, they were “shocked” to learn they were attending a wedding. Phyllis said, “My mom told me that they were the “talk of the town” and everyone said that their marriage would never last.”
Phyllis added that her Dad “served the Texas Public Schools for 40 years. He was a coach, teacher, principal and Superintendent of Schools, retiring from Frisco, Texas public schools as the Superintendent. He was elected and served on the Texas State Board of Education for 6 years donating his experience as this is the only non paying elected position in Texas.”
What are some of the biggest changes you have seen in your lifetime?
The cost of living has changed vastly….the cost of automobiles, groceries, utilities, medical treatment and prescriptions, gasoline, clothing, housing, are beyond our beliefs. When Bill and I first married, he made $70.84 a month. This was enough for us to live moderately. We have always tried to be frugal and good stewards with the money the Lord provided.
Later in our marriage when I became pregnant with our only child, Phyllis, the medical bills and doctor’s fee were approximately $150.00 which we paid out in monthly installments. Phyllis was a “prepaid” baby or a “layaway” baby.
Technology has grown to be what it is today…….from a tablet of paper, pen and pencil to computers, laptops, smart phones, etc. Of course, it happened gradually for some years so we adjusted to the changes. However, the last few years, progress is rapidly advancing and is difficult to know what some of it is about.
We started out in early marriage with a radio. Television had not been invented yet. Then came black and white television, then color TV and now the new ones are like going to the movies.
When we married one could not buy a loaf of bread in a grocery store. The women made the bread at home for each meal. I still bake bread three to four times a week and make homemade cinnamon rolls three times a week. At the time of our marriage, bread could be purchased from a local bakery shop for about 6 cents a loaf.
What was the scariest time you have seen as a married couple?
World War II, without a doubt, was the scariest times of our lives. Bill served in the European Theater as a Counter Intelligence Corp agent, a spy for America, constantly in harm’s way. He was in a unit of 15 men, all CIC agents and it was so secret that none of them knew each other’s names. But they worked side by side to gain intelligence throughout the war. After the war was over, Bill and his unit of 15 men stayed in Germany an extra year to capture war criminals. His group caught a lot and turned them in . The most important man they captured was Herman Goehring, the head of the German Air Force and Hitler’s right hand man.
I never knew if he was safe, as not much communication via letters was allowed, since his job was so secretive. The long days and nights were difficult to bear. My little daughter and I missed him so much. We lived with my parents during World War II and helped in our own way here on the home front. There was a lot of sacrifice on the part of the American people. But our faith grew stronger and we trusted the Lord to unite us once again for a happy life. HE has done more than that for us. God has given us a loving home, family, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and our health for 71 years of married life. We are blessed and most thankful and give credit to the Lord.
What would you say are the key ingredients to a happy marriage?
Bill and Tomi:
The first thing in our minds is to ask God to help you build a Christian home. Raise your family in the church. Then apply these other things: Love, good communication with each other, respect, compassion, a spirit of forgiveness, patience and no secrets from each other, and service to others through job, church, or volunteering. We have tried to live by these and they have served us well.
What advice would you give a young couple just getting married?
Bill and Tomi:
We think that all of your question #4 would apply to a couple just getting married. Never give up on your marriage…always work out any problems quickly and mindful of the other partner. Apologize if necessary. The longer you are married, the better the marriage gets. Live as pure a life as possible and always ask God to guide you.
Bill added, “And do not forget to brag on your wife’s cooking!”
Phyllis says, “Everyone who meets them falls in love and it has always been that way since I can remember as a child. They are people-loving, caring for others, nurturing, and great listeners. There is just a glow about them, a certain charm that is not explainable. All of my friends adore them, as well as the people they come in contact with. My mom lives to cook and entertain. The party never ends for her and she has my dad deliver home-made goodies to “elderly shut-in” from our church. Every week she makes homemade breads and cinnamon rolls, freezing them and then decides who will be the recipient of Tomi’s Temptations.”
This is Phyllis’ favorite picture of her parents. Phyllis told me, “when I retired from teaching five years ago, my husband took my parents and me on a river cruise in Europe. While leaving the ship in Frankfurt, Germany, I was walking along behind my parents and took a photo of them holding hands. It has become one of my favorite photos of them as it sort of depicts how they have held hands and walked through this life together.”
♥ Happy Valentine’s Day! ♥