15 Sep 2014
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Love Spans the Decades

Celebrating love on Valentine's Day with Herchel and Gladys Sheets, who have been married 62 years.

Love Spans the Decades

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published February 14, 2011.)

Depending on whom you ask, the story is slightly different. He says he noticed her at a school event that she hardly recalls. She says they were paired at a banquet, and that she asked him out on the first date.

"Is that the way it went?" Gladys Sheets said, turning to her husband, Herchel.

"Probably," he said.

Within three weeks, they were engaged. For more than a year, they kept the entire thing a secret from their parents, up until six months before the May 28, 1949 wedding.

"She makes up her head quickly," Herchel Sheets said about the speedy proposal and acceptance.

"Well," Gladys joked, "I knew I had time to back out."

How did the proposal go exactly? Well, that's another thing the couple doesn't get bothered with all the details. After 62 years, it doesn't so much matter anymore how they met, or who said what.

And, it didn't matter then.

"It was rather informal," said Herchel, 82. "I didn't say, 'Will you marry me?' We just understood it."

"That's what you call being meant for each other," Gladys added.

While the two were secretly engaged (for the most part, but a few friends knew), they continued to work their way through Berry College in Rome. She was a senior, with jobs in the dining hall and the guest cottage, and he was a sophomore with aspirations for ministry work.

They attended football games, movies and other campus gatherings under the strict rules of Berry College, where dating, per se, was not allowed. School came first, and on Sundays students were allowed to see each other on campus.

After Gladys Sheets graduated, she began teaching. And, with six weeks shy of Herchel graduating, the two were married. At first they moved to Rome together, but Herchel soon became the pastor of two churches. Then they moved to Hiram, stuffing all their possessions in one car for the trip.

It wasn't the easiest time. Instead of staying in a parsonage, the couple moved in with two of their church members. It wasn't so much fun living with another couple, though. And, Herchel left every day to attend seminary classes and returned home to study in the evening.

"If our marriage can survive, any marriage can survive," said Gladys, 84. "We didn't have a big salary, but we got along fine."

"Well, we loved each other," Herchel added. "She had a lot of enduring ability."

"That what you call it?" his wife shot back.

Gladys Sheets continued to teach through her husband's three years in the seminary. At that point, the couple decided she would stay home and raise their children, and that he would work full-time as a minister. The eventually had four children, two girls and two boys.

Sure, the two had disagreements throughout the years, and finances were definitely tough. But, they kept their religious faith close and their marriage vows closer.

"There was no thought of 'if you don't do like I want to do, forget it,'" Gladys said. "There was no thought of divorce."

"We knew we had signed on for the rest of our lives, we didn't know it would be 60-something years," aid Herchel, who spent some 50 years under appointment in the United Methodist Church. "We're expecting it'll be a lot longer now."

Their advice for single folks looking for their kind of love is simple. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Enjoy your friendships, and get involved in something meaningful to you.

"If you go looking, you probably won't find them," Gladys advised.

For married couples, their advice is even simpler. Learn to think of others.

"It's important to be thoughtful of one another," Herchel said, "and not just think about what you want, but what is good for both of you. And, it won't hurt to apologize once in a while."

All in all, the two say they've always believed their lives had meaning. With them as a team, it was a lot more interesting. They still try to take trips every anniversary, and do nice things for each other. They attend senior aerobics at the Snellville Senior Center. They live in a nice home in a quiet neighborhood, where they walk a couple of times a week. They are also members of Snellville United Methodist Church.

They've come a long way from stuffing all their things in one car and moving to Hiram.

"We all clutter up or lives," Herchel said, "but persons are more important than things."

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