Everlasting love: Columbus couple mark 75 years together

For The Tribune

Wallace Hines can vouch that what the Good Book says about love is true: “It always … trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Hines, a 94-year-old retired part-time Presbyterian lay minister, and his wife, Marybelle Hines, 93, marked their 75th wedding anniversary Tuesday. The couple show no signs of allowing anyone or anything to rend asunder what God has joined.

The Jennings County natives have been partners almost as long as the average American life expectancy of 78 years. Given the December timing of their marriage in Vernon in 1943, you could say they are each other’s Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

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Toward that end, Wallace Hines unwrapped one little secret to their long-lasting love with little prodding as he recently relaxed in a wing of Silver Oaks Health Campus in Columbus, where they have lived since 2014.

“We’ve never gone to bed angry,” he said.

“So there were nights you didn’t sleep much, did you, Dad?” joked daughter Laura Johnson of Columbus.

Actually, she and her husband, Kevin Johnson, admire their elders’ union — one that produced five children, 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren — as much as anyone.

Wallace Hines and the former Marybelle Craig became high school sweethearts at Scipio High School by their senior year. Wallace was so smitten early on that he regularly rode his bike — one with only a front wheel and no tire — over gravel roads to get to her house a few miles away. Because World War II raged and required precious manufacturing material such as rubber, he had little other recourse.

He still remembers when he first saw her at school his freshman year.

“When she walked across (the room), I said, ‘That’s her,’” Wallace said, silently deciding on his wife-to-be.

And no one argued with his heart’s passionate resolve.

“He has told enough people that story over the years that if it wasn’t true, he would have dropped dead by now (for lying),” cracked his wife.

It would be nearly three years before they began courting, however.

When Wallace played area league baseball, something he did into his 50s, he often found himself on the pitcher’s mound. His spouse subsequently often found herself leaving the stands since the crowd tended to heckle the opposing pitcher.

“I’d have to go to the car,” she said, remembering her exasperation.

At 19, Wallace briefly considered becoming a doctor, poring over medical manuals at night while working by day for Cummins Engine Co., a career he kept until his retirement in 1982. Making 16 cents per hour out of high school was hardly enough money for college, though. His wife worked at the Scipio post office.

He helped launch the first volunteer fire department in Scipio and once served as assistant fire chief. She helped organize the Scipio parent-teacher association.

Yet, their love rests on far more than yesterdays and sentiment. For instance, spotlighting the best moment of their marriage is easy.

“Right today,” Marybelle said. “Yes, today. We’re both living, and we’re both in fair health.”

And both very much in love.

Wallace sometimes has trouble hearing and finds his hearing aids more frustrating than helpful at times. But his wife hardly seemed to mind leaning over to him, gently taking his hand and repeating questions or comments into his left ear during their recent reminiscing.

They live in separate rooms at Silver Oaks because Marybelle requires a different level of care than her husband because of a stroke suffered during a surgery to repair a heart valve in 2012.

“Saddest day of my life,” Wallace said.

If asked — and people have indeed posed a query or two — Marybelle will offer what she considers the best marital advice for the happiest days of a couple’s life.

“I always tell couples to pick their battles,” she said, pausing and grinning. “Although, I don’t know that I’ve always lived perfectly by that.”

On Sunday, they celebrated their anniversary at a local steakhouse with about 30 relatives from Bartholomew and Jennings counties. They still regularly hold hands. And Marybelle holds that one element derails modern twosomes as much as anything.

“They’re putting the cart before the horse,” she said, referring to living together before marriage. “People tell me I’m old-fashioned about that. Well, I am — and proud of it.”

She looked over at her husband and smiled.

“Our marriage hasn’t been perfect,” she said. “But we have made it work.”

They have indeed. For a lifetime.

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Both born: Scipio

Met: Scipio High School

Married: Dec. 18, 1943, in Vernon

Family: Five children, Becky Umphrey, 74, North Vernon; Boni Fewell, 66, North Vernon; Wes Hines, 61, Scipio; Laura Johnson, 56, Ogilville; and Scott Hines, 52, Scipio; 12 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Jobs: He worked for 40 years at then-Cummins Engine Co.; she worked for 17 years at the Scipio post office

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