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Texas church salutes ‘Golden Pair’ marriages



Juanita and Winston Reagan, married 71 years, are honored as the longest married couple at the Golden Pairs party at First United Methodist Church in Chandler, Texas. UMNS photos by John Gordon. 












By John Gordon*
March 21, 2007 | CHANDLER, Texas (UMNS)

No one promised it would be easy. But the Golden Pairs made it through the Great Depression, wars, careers, childrearing and other challenges to cement lifelong relationships.

The Golden Pairs are members of First United Methodist Church in Chandler who have been married at least 50 years. The church, located east of Dallas near Tyler, hosts a party each year to celebrate the marital milestone.

"We married … right after the Depression. Never did have very much," says Juanita Reagan, 88. "Winston said he married me because I was a beautician and I made 25 cents for a hairdo."



Kenneth Reid deejays the party honoring couples married 50 years or more. 

The Reagans have been married 71 years - longer than any other couple in the church.

"I don't think there really is a secret (to a long marriage). It's just the fact that you had more or less, give and take." says Winston Reagan, 91, who drove a bus for more than three decades, then ran for political office and served 20 years as a county judge.

Long marriages apparently run in the family. One of their daughters soon will celebrate her own 50th wedding anniversary.

Church music director Kenneth Reid started Golden Pairs five years ago, modeling it after a similar ministry at another church where he once worked.

"I think it's really an accomplishment," says Reid of lasting marriages. "I think it's important that we recognize them because they are our history."

This year's party adopted a Mardi Gras theme, with a luncheon and dance music. The church has 26 couples who qualify as Golden Pairs, and nearly half attended the party.

Bettye and Larry Davis, married for 56 years, still ponder how they almost missed their lifelong relationship.

"He stood me up on the first date," recalls Mrs. Davis.

Mr. Davis explains quickly, however, that "the fan belt or something broke on the car."

Fortunately, they gave it another shot and have been inseparable since that first successful date.

“One of the problems I think we have today is that there's too many people that think only of themselves and their happiness.”
–Larry Davis, married 56 years

"A marriage is a very serious thing; it's not just a long wedding dress and all of that," says Mrs. Davis, a retired schoolteacher. "Yes, it's worth it."

Mr. Davis, a retired accountant, says devotion to family above self is a key to a long marriage.

"One of the problems I think we have today is that there's too many people that think only of themselves and their happiness," he says. "They're not concerned with the happiness of the family; they're concerned with their own happiness."

Russell and Gerry Bradford, married 61 years, marvel at the changes in technology since they exchanged their wedding vows.

"We come from the horse and buggy days to the jet age and atomic age," says Mr. Bradford. "… But we've made it through it, and we're thankful for the many years we've had."

Mrs. Bradford adds that "everything's fast" today, which often presents a challenge to marriage and family life. "Back in the days when we got married, (it was) very laid back and we had time to enjoy each other and enjoy things," she says.

In their retirement years, the Bradfords enjoy leisurely trips around the United States in their motor home.

Reid says the Golden Agers are often the most active and faithful members of the church.  And one day, he'd like to join the club.

"I haven't quite reached the halfway mark myself," he says. "And I know my wife and I go through times when it's difficult.  But I have every intention, she has every intention, of making it 50 years or more ourselves."

*Gordon is a freelance producer and writer based in Marshall, Texas.

News media contact: Fran Walsh, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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