First Posted: 2/13/2009
ARARAT Admittedly 60 years of marriage is a rare thing these days, but to have both husband and wife celebrating their 90th birthdays, Valentines Day and their 60th wedding anniversary is astounding.
Paul and Myrtle Key began dating 64 years ago. They were married in 1949 and will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary tomorrow with family and friends.
Myrtle (Haymore) Key was born on Feb. 19, in 1919. She still laughs about it today. Of course, thats not all she finds funny. She sat back in her recliner Friday and laughed often while talking to her daughter, Debbie Stanley, and husband, as her golden retriever, Molly, waited patiently on the porch.
Paul Key sat in his recliner across the room, with his wit still intact as well, smiling about why the couple has managed to remain married so long. His birthday is in August, but the family wanted to celebrate everything together this year.
Key said his wife first caught his eye in a photograph he saw at a tenant house, which is a house where farm workers would stay back in the 1940s. He asked the man there who the girl in the picture was and he set out to meet his future wife, who was then living in Holly Springs.
I knocked on the door and there she was, the prettiest thing Ive ever seen, Key said.
The couple dated for four years, until Pauls persistence paid off.
It took her four years to give in, he said.
They were married at the home of the Rev. Delmer Hodges. No photographs were taken at the wedding and the couple cant recall how he proposed. But that doesnt mean the past 60 years havent been extraordinary.
The couple lives on the Keys family farm in Ararat off Key Road. They have four children, Paula Stanley, Debbie Stanley, Gary Key and Clark Key.
The couple didnt marry until they were 30 years old. Their daughter Debbie said that they felt like they needed to hurry up to have a family.
Thats why we are so close in age, Stanley said.
Following their wedding the couple went to Miami Beach in Florida to celebrate their honeymoon.
Grandma (Lula) Haymore gave them orders not to stay in a room above the first floor. She was worried about fire hazards, Stanley said. But I think they ended up staying wherever they could find. It wasnt like you could just call up and make reservations back then. There wasnt even a motel on every corner back then.
In addition to their four children the couple has eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The couple raised chickens and tobacco on their family farm. Stanley fondly remembers gathering potatoes and hay.
Those were such good memories. They raised us in a good Christian home. Mom was always the life of the party. She always kept us laughing, Stanley recalled.
Stanley said her mother was a beautician until her first daughter, Paula, came along. Then she decided to stay home to raise her family.
Mom always made sure we had birthday cakes for our birthdays. She is the best cook, Stanley said.
Paul Key was always known in his community for being active in the Eldora Ruritans and the Mount Airy American Legion.
He was known for his ticket sales. People hated to see him coming, because they knew they would have to buy a ticket from him, Stanley said.
Myrtle was active in the American Legion Womans Auxiliary and Stanley remembers that she was active with a group that did home demonstrations, such as gardening or cooking.
They have been blessed with such good health. Mother has never had anything seriously wrong with her. Dad had open heart surgery when he was in his 70s, but other than that, they are in pretty good health, said the daughter, who is now a nurse.
They have also been long-time members of Sulphur Springs Baptist church.
As they approach the 90-year mark, they thoroughly enjoy visiting with their grown children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their family and friends will be celebrating their birthdays, their anniversary and Valentines Day on Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. at Salem Baptist Church in Dobson.
The Keys say the secret to living so long and staying happily married is to live a good Christian life.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.