February 14th has been associated with romantic love since the 14th and 15th centuries and people began sending valentine cards in the 19th century. When most think of love they think of the floating on air heart fluttering kind of feelings, but love is so much more than that. That kind of love is temporal and ebbs and flows with the events and feelings of the moment. Real love that stands the test of time is a choice. You must choose to love when things are hard, when your fairytale image of love begins to lose its luster, when disappointments and heartaches come, when life happens! It takes a lifetime for God to take two people and make them one and some qualities are necessary for this transformation to take place. There must be kindness, patience, humility, and forgiveness. Hearts that choose to focus on the positive and not the negative of their mate and never lose hope even when the road gets rocky.
I hope you enjoy reading the love stories of a few Chambers County folks who learned the secret of making it work and whose marriages have stood the test of time. Our first love story spans a remarkable 68 years! Betty and Ralph Sayers are now 87 and 90 years old.
Come walk with me down memory lane.
Ralph and I met in March of 1952 at a basketball game. He was home from his second tour of duty in the Army and I was a junior student at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches. Ralph came to the game with his brother, Carey and they both had dates! I had classes with Carey and he was a cut-up, always trying to get you in trouble. Here was my chance to get even. Flirting with Carey got him in trouble with his date, Sissy.
Ralph decided I might be a fun date . . . that date has lasted 68 years so far! Carey and Sissy later married and became my in-laws. Sissy and I never discussed our first meeting.
Ralph and I were engaged on May 3rd, 1952. We had a little problem here, he had an Aunt and Uncle in South America who had a job waiting for him. He forgot to tell me about that plan. I asked him if he planned to return to A & M and finish his schooling! He then told me about the job offer. I was very hesitant . . . not sure if I could live there . . . did not know how this was going to work out! He decided to return to college.
We married on January 25, 1953. Carey was the minister that performed our ceremony. We were the first couple he married, and he was as nervous as we were. We had a home wedding!
This was a difficult part of our life. We had promised our parents we would stay in school. He was at A & M and I was at Stephen F. Austin! A long-distance marriage, but we stayed with the plan.
I graduated in May 1953. I had planned to teach, and Ralph would complete his education. I got a teaching position at North Zulch High School. I got my contract to be signed the same week we found out we were going to be parents. This was not in the plans!
Ralph stayed in college but not at A & M! We (he) transferred to SFA. This decision was made in late August!
We moved into “Vet Village!” These were the old Army barracks. Couples now would be appalled at the conditions . . . we were not! It was our first home and we loved it! It was airy! We hung a model airplane in the small hall, and we could tell the wind direction. We also reinforced the windows with newspapers and that worked fine!
The couples in Vet Village became a close group. We helped each other! If we had extra veggies, we shared. If someone was ill, we helped each other! This was a way of life.
Ralph’s college job was working on the Ag farm! He was allowed to kill blackbirds. Birds that walk are edible, hopping birds are not . . . blackbirds walk . . . we ate them. Not bad eating — smothered in gravy. Our children were not impressed with this part of our life!
There was a special couple who lived next door whom we stayed close to until they passed away. He was retired from the Army. When Kathy was born, she was not a great sleeper. Walls were thin and crying babies could be heard. When Kathy cried Paul and Ebbie would walk in, pick her up, and get her back to sleep. I don’t think our doors locked, so access was easy and helpful! We thank God for these special people who somehow always knew what to do!
I taught three years in Lufkin and Ralph worked at the Texas Foundry and worked on his master’s degree. He decided he wanted to teach. His first job was in Evadale, a brand-new school. He loved teaching. I taught in Kountz. We did this five for years and a special couple from college wanted us to come to Phoenix, Arizona to teach. We stayed there two years. This is when we really grew up. We were really on our own. We had to work all of our problems out together. This made us stronger as a couple.
In 1963 we moved to Anahuac. It was so good to get back to Texas, it just felt like home! We retired from Anahuac School system in 1989.
We had four children in nine years. Not so hard when they were small, but college time was hard. We often had 2 in college at the same time. Thank God for Mr. Joe Gail Clark at Security Bank! He kept a watch on our account, and we could move money from our small savings to cover checks. He was a very special person in our lives.
In our sixty-eight years, most were fun! It takes a few hard ones to make you enjoy the others. We have always done things together and that made our marriage stronger. We still, after 68 years, enjoy our time together.
We are very proud of our four children, twelve Grands, and thirteen Great-Grands! We have been blessed! Thank you, God!
Charles Guidry returned to Monroe City, Texas in 1956, after serving in the US Army for two years. He figured he would pick up where he left off in his childhood town, but times had changed, and it was time for Charles to change with them. It was hard saying goodbye to old friends and familiar places, but with his dad being transferred to Cedar Point on the west side of the Trinity River it was time to say farewell.
After the move Charles was able to secure a job in the Pelly Oil Field in 1959. He continued living at home and made an agreement with his folks that he would pay the house note as long as he stayed with them. Charles was employed by Rocket Well Service at that time making $1.45 per hour working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week.
As was typical in most small towns when a new family moved into the neighborhood, a committee from one of the local churches would pay a visit to welcome them and invite them to church. Charles’ Uncle Spivey from Kountz asked Dan Gardner, the pastor of Central Baptist Church in Pelly, to find his nephew, Charles, a good woman. Charles heard a knock at the door one day and when he answered there stood a welcoming group, but all Charles saw was a 5’ 10” blonde weighing all of about 120 pounds who took his breath away. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, named Evelyn Trchalek!
Charles waited a year before asking Evelyn out but once he did, he asked her to marry him after dating only 9 months. They were married on the 12th of March 1960. He had just begun working at Shell Oil Company at the time of his proposal and he and Evelyn were both 25 years of age. With a twinkle in his eye he says, “I married an older woman, she was 6 months older than me.”
They led the simple life of a typical blue-collar worker’s family. There was never much money for the movies so their entertainment would be playing monopoly with Evelyn’s brother and sister-in-law, Eddie ‘Sonny’ and Winnie Trchalek. They also vacationed each year for a week at her sister-in-law’s place at Buchanan Dam. They spent time fishing and Charles said Evelyn would try to catch snakes and run down the road chasing him with them.
Charles beams with pride when speaking of his bride. He shared with me how smart she was possessing a great work ethic. He said she worked for a finance company and also as a secretary, at USI Chemical, taking shorthand for the personnel manager. In later years, after her boys were grown, she began working at Sherwin Williams in Baytown and worked there for 16 years. Charles retired from Shell Oil Company in 1993 at the age of 58 but retiring never slowed him down. He said he and his brother Lynn always had something to work on and stayed pretty busy.
Charles shared the fact that his and Evelyn’s life, although happy, was not perfect all the time. Like most marriages they had their ups and downs and working shift work for a majority of their married life caused many grumpy moments. Adjusting your body to varying hours of work and sleep can be challenging, but Charles and Evelyn had both made a commitment before marriage that if they married only death would separate them.
After many happy and contented years, when Evelyn was 72 years old, it became evident that something was happening in her mind, and she was diagnosed with dementia. Charles refused to put her in a nursing home holding true to his vow of “through sickness and health.” He spent the next 8 years tenderly caring for her in their home. He said there were some pretty rough seas at that time as he watched the woman he loved disappear long before her death. She was one month shy of her 80th birthday when she died.
They had stayed the course through smooth sailing and turbulent waters holding true to their commitment until the day he laid her in the arms of God.
Charles and Evelyn have 3 sons, 10 grandchildren, and 2 great grandsons. Charles said he has another great grandson expected this February and another great grandchild due in August. They do not know the gender yet, but perhaps that one will be a girl. I would not take any bets though!!
A few years after Evelyn’s death Charles’ good friend, Erin Jackson, wife of Jim Bob Jackson, reunited Charles with Annette, whom he had dated in Monroe City during his youth. They were each grieving the loss of their spouse and found companionship in their grief. Charles said he waited a year before he kissed her, as he did not want her to feel any pressure from him. They have been seeing each other for 6 or 7 years now and are both very happy together. How wonderful it is that they both found love twice!
In December of 1971, Carroll E. Wilborn, Jr. walked into the law office of his cousin, Guy C. Jackson III, to talk with him about a plot at the Jackson Cemetery for his stepfather Roy Dawson, who had just passed away. I was working for the Jackson and Jackson Law office while I was attending Lee College. This would be the first time either of us had seen the other. Having just graduated from Law School and passing the bar, Carroll soon made plans to practice law in Anahuac and to be here to help his mother with the family ranch, so it would not be the last time our paths would cross.
Over the course of the next seven months Carroll would repeatedly stop by the office and he was always teasing me. There might have been a “slight” age difference between us so his comments all ended with “I would ask you out on a date, but you are so young we would have to have a chaperone.” One day Linda Jackson piped up that she was tired of hearing his excuses and she would gladly chaperone. Our first date on July 10, 1972, started with Linda being our chaperone. We had several more dates in July and August and that is when we discovered that we both had an approaching birthday. When he asked when my birthday was, I told him it was the 28th of August. He thought I was kidding because that was his birthday as well. I then explained that I was born in San Antonio at Santa Rosa Hospital. The uncanny thing was that he was also born there. His father Carroll Wilborn, Sr., was hospitalized there suffering the final stages in his battle with MS and so that was where his mother, Berta Mary, gave birth to Carroll. Learning these details just seemed to draw us even closer together.
However, I had planned to transfer to Stephen F. Austin University and left for Nacogdoches, Texas right after our birthday celebration. Little did I know that I would celebrate the next 43 birthdays with him. After long distance dating for the next few months, Carroll said that if our relationship was going to go any further, I needed to come home. That was all it took, and I transferred to Lamar University the following semester and moved to Beaumont.
Carroll’s career was just taking off. He was hired as the Assistant County Attorney for Chambers County and then the Assistant District Attorney for Liberty and Chambers Counties. I was a busy college student, but we continued to date, and our love continued to grow. Christmas 1974 he proposed, and we were married on August 2, 1975. I graduated from college and he became the District Attorney.
Our daughter, Stephanie Delane was born in March 1978. I was a contented stay at home mom, and he was an extremely busy District Attorney. While I was pregnant with our son Grant Jackson, Carroll was involved in one of his biggest cases concerning the death of Price Daniel, Jr. Our lives were topsy turvy and he spent most of his time in Liberty. Grant was born in June 1981 and Carroll was embroiled in the trial. Reporters were constantly calling at all hours disrupting our lives. This was one of the turning points in our lives when the decision was made to step back from public life. We tried not to expose ourselves or our family to the scrutiny of others. Carroll always felt in doing this no one would question the decisions he made as the District Attorney and then as the District Judge he became in 1983. Carroll always said that his mother taught him that being fair above all else was the key to being honorable in his profession and life. His fairness on the bench was recognized and admired by many in his professional and personal life.
We had a wonderful marriage that we worked at together. Over our many years, we raised our kids, helped run the family ranch, battled the serious illness of our son, lived through the day-to-day grind that we all face, and we succeeded. Most importantly, we watched our kids become amazing adults and find their true loves, just like us, to continue the love story for the next generation. Tragically, I lost Carroll, the love of my life, unexpectedly three weeks before our 40th wedding anniversary. Whenever Carroll performed a marriage ceremony the following excerpt was always included:
“There is a wonderful passage from First Corinthians Chapter 13, recited at most weddings that says let love be your aim; for love is very patient, it is kind, it is never jealous or envious, it is never boastful or proud, it is never selfish or rude, love does not demand its own way. This passage goes on to say that if you love someone you will be loyal to him or her no matter what the price, you will always believe in them, always expect the best of them and always defend them. Nothing is easier than saying these words. Nothing is harder than living them, day after day. What you promise today must be renewed and rededicated tomorrow and each day that stretches out before you.”
This message was a part of the wedding ceremonies of both our children as Carroll and I believed that this is what made our marriage successful and what sustains me. I know that it will sustain them as well and help this love story continue for the next generation and generations to come.
It was the summer of ’73 and I had just finished a tour with my Uncle Sam. Hunting something to do I went to visit my friend out on Charlotte Road. He had a few things to do: bail hay, work cows, fix fence, so instead I sat on the back porch with his brown-eyed sister. She was a good talker, and I was a good listener.
I forgot about seeing my friend and gathered up my nerve and asked to come sit on the porch again tomorrow. Brown eyes studied me and said, “sure.” I don’t know if my friend ever got that fence fixed.
Brown eyes and I were married that December. Four daughters and eight grandchildren later I am still a good listener, so she tells me.
I guess I was aware of him for years and he was aware of me, since we were in the same schools, although he was one grade ahead of me. But I didn’t take NOTICE of him until I was a junior in high school, when he started flirting with me. I did think he was very cute, and he would wink at me. One day, he lifted me up in the school hall right in front of the water fountains and put me down in between them. I couldn’t get out. I was stuck there, and the bell rang. I panicked, because I could NOT be tardy. He let me out. I couldn’t decide if I was mad or flattered that a cute guy was paying attention to me! He told me later that he thought I had beautiful big brown eyes. He finally asked me on a date the summer before my senior year, and before he left for his freshman year at Sam Houston State University.
We dated throughout that year, and when I got ready to apply to college, I considered Sam Houston, but my dad told me “no way, because it’s a ‘party school’”. So, I went to Stephen F. Austin. But we would go home most weekends to be together, and write letters, and talk on the phone, but not much, because phone calls were expensive! I finally talked my dad into letting me transfer to Sam Houston, and the relationship got more serious. But not serious enough to get married, because my parents told me if I got married, I would be paying for my college, and Clint and I couldn’t afford that! So, we waited and on Jan 4, 1975, we were married in the First United Methodist Church in Anahuac.
Clint has a “unique” idea of what gift giving entails. My first birthday after we got married, he gave me a BAROMETER. I was……underwhelmed, to be sure. He finally explained that since he was taking flying lessons and had to put barometer pressure on his flight plans, “WE” needed a barometer. Oh, well then.
The next birthday, he was away at a cattle auction on my birthday, and when he came home, I asked him what he got me for my birthday, which clearly, he had forgotten until that moment. He recovered quickly, and said, “a cow!” Fine. I went to the courthouse and registered my own brand and claimed that stupid cow for years until she was sold, and I got the money. Thanks, Clint.
It’s funnier now than it was then, by the way. We like to make each other laugh, and to make others laugh with us. My leg should be much longer than it is, as much as he pulls it.
Clint used to come in and say, “pack your bags” and we’ll leave after lunch. I’d pack our bags, and we’d head out the door with no idea where we’d end up. One time we just headed east, thinking we would spend a couple of nights in Beaumont, then kept going east, and ended up in New Orleans. But we didn’t stop there; we drove to Pensacola and got to take an impromptu tour of the Lexington aircraft carrier, when it was still in service! We are both big WWII history buffs, and we’ve since been on numerous military jaunts, including a trip to Normandy for the 75thanniversary of D-Day. These trips have been a highlight of our marriage, and it’s fun recounting them with each other.
There were some hard times, including long hours with both of us working. Our first house was “a fixer-upper”, and there was always something that needed to be “fixed-up”. There were life-threatening health issues, and we made it through, stronger than ever.
We have three married daughters. We went to their games and ceremonies and school events and had birthday parties and lots of fun along the way. We would pile the kids in the car, and sometimes, when we were obviously lost, Clint would tell the kids, “millions of people have never seen this part of the country”. They still say that.
We built our second house 16 years ago. After a couple of months of planning and talking with the builder, the builder told our daughter she was worried because we were “building two different houses”. We are still married, so it can be done. Thankfully.
Now we have eight grandchildren, and they are the loves of our life. They think our house and farm are a playground, complete with horses and cows and dogs and cats and pigs and fish and a pond and rocks and sand and……you get the picture.
So, what kind of love story has this been? Laughter and love and tears and fun and grief, all mixed into a grand adventure. We just celebrated 46 years of marriage. Clint likes to tell strangers how long we’ve been married, and then when they congratulate us, he says, “But I don’t think it’s gonna last”. They laugh, we laugh, and all is well with the world.
The 1973 fall semester on the campus of Sam Houston State University, two young college student’s paths crossed. The guy was a country boy from Anahuac, Tx and the young lady was a city girl from Houston TX. The young man was already a student at SHSU and the young lady was a transfer student from Blinn College. They began dating and this relationship grew into a marriage and a family. They were united in marriage on the 4th of January in 1974. The ceremony was in the pastor’s study at Greater mount Olive Baptist church officiated by Rev. King, of Houston Texas.
Rickey and Geraldine returned to school that spring semester to continue their education. That summer of 1974, they welcomed their daughter Robyn L. Brown. During the summer Rickey worked for Chambers County Road and Bridge; the county provided him with employment all through high school and college.
The fall semester of 1974 this little family of three, returned to SHSU to continue their education. We lived the complete college life never missing a day of class. We each provided care for our baby by arranging our schedules so that when one was in class the other one was available to provide care for Robyn. We were also supported by classmates and family if there was a conflict. We both graduated in the year of 1975, Rickey in the summer and Geraldine in the fall.
After graduating that summer, Rickey and Robyn returned to Anahuac and lived with his mother, Goldie Brown. He would work at Chambers County Road and Bridge, and he and Robyn would visit Geraldine on the weekends until she graduated that December. We lived with Rickey’s mother until we purchased our first home, a mobile home next door to his mother.
We both began our careers, Rickey went to work for Houston Lighting and Power Company, and Geraldine worked for Beaumont State Center becoming the director for the Pre-school program in Anahuac. Geraldine worked for BSC for three years before being hired by Anahuac Independent School District as their Home Economics teacher, where she worked for 37 years before retiring. Meanwhile, in May of 1980 we welcomed our second daughter Casey R. Brown to the family. In 1984 we moved into our new home, where we currently reside. Rickey retired from HL&P after 30 years, and then opened his own business, Beautiful Photos by Rickey – a free-lance photographer.
Our daughters are both college graduated twice over with advance degrees. Robyn graduated from Stephen F. Austin, receiving an advance degree from Sam Houston State University and Casey graduated from Texas Southern University, receiving an advance degree from Argosy University. They are both products of AISD.
We are proud members of St. James United Methodist church in Anahuac, Texas. The proud grandparents of Semaya, Sydnee, Peyten, Parker and Kaiyan! On January 4thof 2021, we celebrated 47 years of marriage. We had praying parents, supportive siblings and friends and we continue to put God first, which has kept these college sweethearts together.
56 Years of Marriage – How Did We Get Here?
Lester and I met at Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State) in the fall of 1961 – my freshman year and his junior year. We were introduced by a mutual friend who became a lifelong friend until his death 2 years ago. Lester is from Hankamer in Chambers County, his family came here in 1845 from Germany. I am from Conroe in Montgomery County. My ancestors moved there in 1833 from Illinois. So, we are both long time Texans.
After Lester and I met we dated through college and became engaged in 1965, the year that he graduated. We were married in 1964 after I graduated and settled in Hankamer in a house that his Mom and Dad had lived in after they were married and in which they lived when Lester was born. We lived there for 10 years during which we had 3 children, twin daughters and one son.
Lester joined his father and brother rice farming and I eventually became a teacher in the Anahuac District. Lester farmed rice for 30 years and then concentrated only on ranching for the last 30 years. I taught for 32 years.
The best times of our life together has been watching our children grow and mature into the amazing adults that they are today. They were great fun when they were little. I was one of those seemingly unusual mothers who loved having my children at home. Lester and I enjoyed our children, the sports activities that they were all in, the drama in their lives, their friends, and all the other things that make up the lives of children and teenagers. They all attended colleges and attained degrees of their choice. They all chose different paths, but all ended up in good places. They each married and had 3 children each. They are all still married to their first spouses. We have loved watching our grandchildren grow and attain goals that they have chosen. While we enjoy watching, we also always offer love and support to each, as they attain their given goals. The greatest joys that we have had more recently has been watching our children become parents and raise their children. To say that they have made us immensely proud is an understatement.
Throughout our lives together Lester and I have loved and supported each other no matter what has happened, through bad and happy times. This is the key to our long life together. We have lived through wars, hurricanes, floods, and now a pandemic.
We have moved from a time when it seemed as if we never saw each other. He was working virtually non-stop and I was consumed with working and raising 3 children. Today we have moved to a time when he still works, though not so much as in the past, but we spend almost all our time together. Instead of all this togetherness driving us apart, we have become closer than ever before. Love and support have sustained and kept us together for 56 years and will move us into the future for as many years as we are given.
Sadly, Ann and Lester's wedding photos were damaged during one of our many hurricanes, so I did not have one to post here.