First Posted: 5/9/2009
LAMBSBURG, Va. Seventy-five years ago on May 6, 1934, Dennis and Maggie Upchurch were married and after all these years they are not only still in love, but they are in relatively good health.
Holding hands in their tiny home on a sunny spring day recently, the couple recalled a lifetime of memories and love. They say the secret to living a long and happy life is love, family and faith.
The couple raised eight children, countless grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They said that having a family is their highest achievement in life and what makes them most proud.
After a lifetime of working to raise their children and grandchildren on what they call good Christian values, the couple now spends their days together in their home visiting with friends and family who stop by from time to time.
Although their official wedding date was earlier this week, the couple is looking forward to their 75th anniversary party that will be held on May 23. The party will not only mark their lifetime together, but it also gives them a chance to celebrate their birthdays this month.
Dennis Upchurch will be celebrating his 96th birthday on May 28 and Maggie will turn 92 on May 25.
Dennis father was born in 1864, one year before President Abraham Lincoln was killed. Dennis was born in a cabin at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lambsburg. That cabin was built in 1870 and still stands today.
Although Dennis home was, and still is in Lambsburg, he and Maggie spent 45 years raising their family in Mount Airy on City View Drive.
Maggie, who has spent her life as a homemaker and mother, remembered always having something cooking on the stove. The couple agreed that it is her homecooked food that is responsible for at least part of their longevity.
She gave birth to all of the couples eight children at home. She has fond memories of spending time with the children growing up.
The couple attributed their good health and spirit to their faith in God, hard work and staying active. They agreed that laughter is key to a long and happy life.
When people ask them what is the secret to staying married so long, Maggies answer is, Really loving the husband you have.
Dennis standard answer is, She has to straighten me out every once in a while.
At age 95, Dennis still has a valid Virginia drivers license. Because he is hard of hearing, he has decided not to get his license renewed this year for his birthday.
I miss it so bad. I can drive, but Im going to let em go.
Maggie said she has never driven.
I tried two or three times, but something would always happen, so I just give it up and quit, she said, laughing.
Dennis remembered buying his first car, a 1912 Ford T-model. He said he started driving it when he was 9 years old.
I swapped a shot gun for it. The man wanted my gun, so he said he would trade me the car for it, recalled Dennis.
He remembered that it was 1931 before he was even required to get a license to drive.
I was living in Fries at that time and there was this place where we saw this woman getting in one car after another and going for a ride. I asked this fella whats a going on down there. He said theys making you get a driving license before you can drive your car. Well I had been driving all my life. I said, Driving license? I didnt know what driving license meant. But he said it was something I had to get so I walked right down there and told that woman I wanted to get my driving license.
He remembered taking the woman at the license agency on quite a ride. He said he drove her down beside the railroad tracks and the bumpy ride nearly scared her half to death. But he got his license anyway. It cost 50 cents back in those days, he said.
Dennis spent most of his career working at Southern Propane in Mount Airy. He retired at the age of 78 when the company was sold. He worked there for 29 years.
One of his first jobs was working on one of the road crews that built the Blue Ridge Parkway. He said he would walk six miles up the mountain every day to work for 25 cents an hour.
Even though the couple has never seen the Internet and live a very humble life, in the corner of their humble home sits a flat-screen TV.
A man let me have it for a hundred dollars. I like that TV, he said, smiling.
Dennis said he spends his days now whirring around.
When I go out the door, she asked me, Where ya going? You better hurry back, he said.
He spends as much time outdoors in the yard as he can.
These days Maggie is a little less mobile because of recent hip surgery.
They have been faithful members of church their whole lives. They were charter members of Friendly Tabernacle Church, were members of Bottom Road Tabernacle Church for 40 years and now attend Truth to New Life Apostolic Church near their home.
They have outlived three sons and two grandchildren, but are grateful to be surrounded by the loving family that has grown and grown through the years.
The Upchurches 75th anniversary celebration will be held at their home in Lambsburg on May 23 at 1 p.m.
For more information and directions, contact Kathy Edmonds at 789-3117.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or by calling 719-1930.