Couple celebrates 74 years


Seventy-four years ago the Great Depression was winding down. World War II had started and the Lum and Abner program was one of the most popular radio shows in the country.

It was also when Bee and Gladys Walker married.

Bee Walker had just gone back home to Alleene, Ark., after 18 months of working in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Washington and Montana.

He reconnected with family and friends and became acquainted with Gladys, the sister of one of his friends.

Their first date was to the First Assembly Church, and they eventually married on Dec. 23, 1939.

Gladys said their relationship was meant to be.

“It just came natural,” she said. “I never thought any different. We married to be together.”

Luckily their love was strong because the economy was weak.

“Back then jobs were pretty hard to come by,” said Bee. “We traveled around for a while looking for work. Patricia (their daughter) was born in 1940 and I was able to buy a ticket to Galveston and I got a job in the shipyard as a pipe fitter’s helper.”

Gladys went back to Alleene to stay with her mom and in the early part of 1944, Bee was called to serve his country. He spent 20 months in the U.S. Navy on the U.S.S. Sangamon which survived a Kamikazi hit on May 4, 1944.

After he served his tour of duty, he ended up back in Galveston pipe fitting until workers went on strike.

“They were promised all kinds of work for the service men when they came home but non of that panned out,” said Patricia. “So they took off hunting work again.

“All this time my mother was standing by like a lot of military wives did and followed Dad all over the country trying to find work.”

Apple orchards in Washington needing workers led them northwest and Gladys packed up their things, their two daughters and they went to Brewster, Wash.

“I remember I was 6 years old and started my first year of school,” said Patricia. “I remember mom talking about the huge big apples that she wrapped in tissue paper. They put so many apples in a box it reminds me of a Lucy (Ball) episode.”

From Washington, the Walkers returned south where Bee found work in the oil fields in West Texas and landed a job with Cabot Corporation. Bee was transferred to Big Spring, Texas, where they spent 40 years until he retired in 1978.

Today they live on the same property as their daughter Patricia and son-in-law, Jack Beverly. They also have two other daughters, Mary and Joyce, and six grandchildren.

Not many people these days are married for 74 years.

Bee offered his thoughts on the long term success of their marriage.

“Success to a long marriage is give and take, but sometimes you have to take more than you give,” he quipped. “Plus I never thought we’d live this long!”

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