LFF’s 2011 Longest Married Hall of Fame!

 

Ralph and Dorothy Richards – 81 Years!

In 1929, a young woman riding the “flying horses” in City Park caught the eye of a New Orleans lad. Once her carousel ride was over, he approached her and implored that she stay on her horse for one more ride with him, as he had already bought her another ticket. The young girl would later recall, with a wry grin: “At a nickel a ride, I thought to myself, ‘I had better hang onto this guy because he’s a big spender!'”

She did! Today, LFF celebrates Ralph and Dorothy Richards as Louisiana’s Longest “Known” Married Couple at a special Valentine’s Day reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

On February 28, 1930, with the Great Depression in its infancy, Ralph Richards and Dottie Renz, both at the tender age of 17, were married. Through the years, Ralph and Dottie shared many things, namely a strong love for and dedication to each other. They found joy in the little things too, like a love of Louisiana seafood (especially oysters), a favorite song (“Let Me Call You Sweetheart”) and an occasional martini at dinner time.

From their union came two children: a daughter, Dorothy, followed by a son, Ralph Jr. Times were tough during the early years of the marriage, but Ralph, despite having to quit school after the sixth grade due to a family hardship, managed to build a successful coffee brokerage firm.

Dottie kept the household running smoothly and occasionally, the couple would step out and travel to exotic locales like Cuba and South America on business trips.

After their children were grown, the family soon branched out, and the brood eventually included eight grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. Today, after nearly 81 years of marriage, the couple lives in Slidell. Amazingly, both Ralph and Dottie enjoy near-perfect health without the benefit of health club memberships, Pilates classes or personal trainers!

With the recent assistance of a live-in caregiver and frequent visits from their children and grandchildren, Ralph and Dottie still share their love, humor and wisdom, and today Valentines 2011, they will enjoy the company of the First Family, Friends and Relatives as they are crowned the reigning King and Queen of Louisiana Family Forum’s Longest Married couple.

Gene Mills, president of LFF, said, “Congratulations to Ralph and Dottie Richards for your incredible 81 – year ‘ride.’ You inspire us, and we celebrate you today.”

 

LFF’s Top Hall of Fame Married Couples

 

Wallace and Nasel Leblanc – 78 years

The Leblancs met in Mamou at church when they were teenagers. For 50 years, the couple operated a grocery store in Crowley. They have always been very active in their church and are probably the most hospitable couple you could ever meet!

Elioise and Bailey Thaxton – 77 years

Irvin and Levie MAe Bryan – 76 Years

Irvin and Levie Mae Bryan were married on February 12, 1935. During their courtship, they would exchange love notes with one another by leaving them under a bridge while on their way to and from work and school.

They had 2 children, 5 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren. They were long time residents of West Monroe and faithful members of Highland Baptist Church in West Monroe.

He spent many years working as a butcher for Caldwell Packing, before he began his own business repairing and selling wooden palettes. She was a homemaker, and became a Tupperware manager for a number of years.

She is a good cook and enjoyed company and feeding people. He is a hard worker and enjoyed gardening and yard work. They lived together in the same house for over 50 years before becoming residents of Oak Woods Home for the Elderly in April of 2010.

Lafe and Chloe Frazier – 73 years

In 1930, there was a boy and a girl in the 7th Grade but in different schools. The government was in the process of moving all the country schools into town. That is when Lafe and Chloe Frazier met. Lafe was going to shcool in town, and Chloe was going to school in the country.

“When I saw her, she was some kind of pretty and I knew she was the one for me.” said Mr. Lafe. They graduated in 1937 and were married July 17, 1937. “I had five dollars to my name, and when the Justice of the Peace finished marrying us I asked him how much I owed him and he said five dollars.” said Mr.Lafe. “We didn’t have any money but there were plenty of berries, potatoes, fish, and squirrels to eat,” said Mr. Lafe. “We were not the poorest by no means, there was a fellow up the road who had to put Rich-Lighter Pine Splinters in a quart jar for light, and it would smut up the ceiling,” he said. Mr. Lafe sold cotton for five cents a pound and raised watermelons for sale and consumption. Mrs. Chloe raised the children, 2 boys and 3 girls, and kept the home in proper running order.

There was no electricity until 1948 and the Phone Company wanted $3000.00 to run a phone line to the house. That was out of the question. In 1960 the government had phone lines run, and they got a phone. Mr. Lafe and Mrs. Chloe have seen a lot of hard times and a lot of good times. Both admitted, “Without the Lord we wouldn’t have made it.”

They still live in their home and enjoy each others company. They have been blessed with 11 Grandchildren, 12 Great Grandchildren, and 1 Great-Great Grandchild. This couple is a picture of what marriage should be, undying love for each other and the Lord.

Willie and Christine Mitchell – 73 years

Lester and Jean Guidry – 72 years

JR and Margaret Hearron – 72 years

They were married January 1, 1939 and are still together 72 years later. “Papaw” has been a pastor for over 40 years at small churches around Louisiana, Central Park Baptist, First Baptist Rodessa, La twice, and many others. They are now retired due to their  health but are very much in love with the Lord and love people. 

Myrtle and Robert Campbell – 71 years

Robert was born on November 18, 1916 and Myrtle was born on January 31, 1918.They were married on March 15, 1940.

Their early years in the country (Grant Parish- Colfax) was the typical farm life. Through the years, Myrtle delivered the mail and worked in the school cafeteria. But her most important job was homemaker. She and Robert have always been avid gardeners and to this day still grow a few vegetables.

Robert Campbell was a farmer, tractor mechanic and later retired from Internation Paper Company. While their grandchildren were in elementary school, Robert coached football for the boys in Colfax and Myrtle was always being volunteered by her grandson to make “Tea cakes” for his class parties.

Bethel Baptist Church in Colfax, LA has been a very important part of Robert and Myrtle’s life. They will tell you that their church is their family. Accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior and being active members at Bethel, even before they were married, they have served and been a part of Bethel Baptist Church for over 70 years. 

Myrtle taught children’s Sunday School classses and worked with children’s VBS throughout the years and until just a few years ago,sang in the choir. Robert was Ordained into the Deacon Ministry in June of 1938 and served his church faithfully teaching Sunday School and leading in several building programs. Although no longer an active deacon, he is still a deacon emeritus.

Their families were raised in church at Bethel and today they have 4 generations attend and serve at Bethel. Age and health prevent them from being active in their attendance these days, but they are still faithful prayer warriors for their community and church. Their love for the Lord, their family, their church and their community has been a legacy of love to their family and everyone they have ever come in contact with. Robert and Myrtle have two sons, five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.

Felix and Irene Rachal – 71 years

Felix (Billy) and Irene Rachal met in January 1939. They were married 10 months later on October 25, 1939. This year they celebrate their 72nd wedding anniversary with a quiet dinner at home with family.

Felix is a retired farmer and engineer at Louisiana State College and volunteer fireman for the city of Cloutierville, and Irene, a homemaker, contributes their long marriage to the love and caring they have for each other.

They both enjoyed volunteering at their church or lunching and visiting with their friends and family for coffee and tea. Irene belonged to a Quilting club, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

They have four children, six grandchildren, 10 great grandchildren and three great great grandchildren.

Felix is now 102 years, and Irene is 90 years old. They still live in the same home they have shared their wonderful life together for the past 71 years. They have always been an inseparable couple and are the same way today.

Olan and Mae Wise – 71 years

Olan and Mae were married on the 2nd of Feb 1940. Olan was born and raised in Opp, Alabama on his family’s farm. Life on the farm was tough to begin with. They lost their farm, as did many others. Olan left home in his teens, looking for work wherever it could be found.

God gave Olan a helping hand when he was chosen for the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. The CCC was formed in 1933 as an initiative to put young men to work. In the midst of the Great Depression, competition for slots was pretty keen. The men had to be unmarried, between the ages of 18-26, and in good physical shape–no problem for a farm kid from Alabama! CCC workers earned $30 per month, $25 of which was mandatorily sent directly to whichever family members the men designated on their entrance forms. We owe our interstate highways, dams, and our beautiful national forests to these men and the work they did.

Flush with cash and new skills, Olan found his way to Louisiana on the word of his brother, who said he could get him a job in the oil and gas industry. Two things happened that would change Olan’s life forever: He accepted our Lord Jesus Christ as his savior during a tent revival, and he met Alma Mae Covington, with whom he would spend the happiest years of his life.

As mentioned above, Olan and Mae were married on 2 Feb 1940. Like most other young American men, Olan answered America’s call to war. He joined the Army Air Corps and served as a cook in Guam.

The Lord blessed Olan and Mae with their first child, Olan Jr., or “Tup” as he is called. Their youngest son, Bobby, followed soon after. Olan Sr. worked as an electrician for the oil companies (he spent most of his career with FINA). His work took the family all over the United States, but they were able to return to Louisiana for most of the time the boys were growing up.

Thirty years ago, Olan and Mae built their house on that property, and they still live there today. Their son Tup now lives in Sulphur, LA, while their son Bobby lives right next door to Olan and Mae.

Mae suffers from severe Alzheimer’s, and is unable to move on her own. Our Sister in Christ cares for them every day during the week.

I’ll never forget when Olan told me of the time years ago when some of his Air Corps buddies asked him to come to a party with them and meet some girls. He said, “No, thank you. I got one already.” He then looked at Mae and smiled. “I’ve had her for seventy-one years. I’ve never left her. And I ain’t about to leave her now.”

Ocie and Eloise Spillers – 71 years

Ocie & Eloise Spillers married August 26, 1939. Ocie’s birth date is March 13, 1917, and Eloise’s is August 8, 1921. Ocie, of Eros, LA, and Eloise, of Cartwright, LA, went to school together in Cartwright, LA. Eloise graduated high school in May of 1939, and was attending Louisiana Tech University, while Ocie helped his father keep up the family farm.

During this time Ocie and Eloise met at church and attended Longstraw Baptist Church of Choudrant, LA. They married August 26, 1939, at the parsonage house of the Methodist Church of Choudrant, which is now a house next to the church they attend today, First Baptist Church of Choudrant.

After Ocie and Eloise married in August 1939, they lived in Cartwright, LA from 1939 to 1944, and while in Cartwright they owned a small convenience store where they lived and worked.

In 1944 they moved to Choudrant, LA to open a larger convenience store, which consisted of groceries, a meat market, and a deli. Ocie retired and the store closed in 1967. During this time Ocie and Eloise had 3 children: Donald, Lamar, and Ronald. A new store was opened by their son Lamar in 1970, and closed in 1988 so they could build another one which opened in 1988 and is still open today.

It is owned by Lamar and run by Ronald and his wife Phyllis. Ocie and Eloise lost their son Donald in 1977 to a tragic accident. Today they have 8 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Timothy Spillers, the youngest grandchild nominated Ocie and Eloise for this special honor and were tickled when he told them they were in the top 10.

Joseph and Ida Tryniecki – 71 years

Mr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Tryniecki recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. They were married November 19, 1939, at Sf. Helena Catholic Church in Amite, LA (where they presently reside). They are the proud parents of four children who have blessed them with 11 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

Mr. Joe (originally from St. Louis, Missouri) tells the story of traveling to Louisiana to find employment and meeting Mrs. Ida (Balsano). Their love story has continued ever since. The first featured photo is of their wedding day.

Mr. Joe (originally from St. Louis, Missouri) tells the story of traveling to Louisiana to find employment and meeting Mrs. Ida (Balsano). Their love story has continued ever since. The first featured photo is of their wedding day.
Leo and Jessalyn Richard – 71 years

Ulysse & Marguerite Trahan – 71 years

Organell and Delta Mae Borel – 71 years

James and Valerie Wells- 71 years

James is a retired minister with the Assemblies of God. They have 6 sons and one daughter. Their eldest son and daughter are deceased.  Of the 5 remaining sons, 4 are in ministry.  All of their children reside in the state of Louisiana.

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