Seymour couple celebrating 70th anniversary today


Irma Constant and her neighbor’s sister, Wilma, left Indianapolis and headed to the small community of Houston in northwestern Jackson County.

That’s where Wilma grew up, and Irma wasn’t sure her mother would let her go.

“My mother was real strict,” Irma said. “She usually wouldn’t let me do anything, but she let me go.”

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As Irma and Wilma walked about a mile to a store, all Wilma talked about was a man from Houston named Robert “Gene” Pearson. When they arrived, Gene was standing outside with his friend, Roy.

“They had been working on cars. They were dirty, looked awful,” Irma said.

The men asked the women if they wanted to go with them to a nearby town to get something for the car.

“I had never been in cars with boys before,” Irma said, smiling.

Roy was behind the wheel and asked one of the women to ride up front with him, and Wanda jumped over the seat. That left Irma sitting in the back seat with Gene.

“Gene and I got to talking, and I was showing him pictures in my billfold of family and friends, and I had a picture in there of me in a two-piece bathing suit, and he took it,” Irma said.

The next night, the men asked the women to go to a movie with them in Columbus.

“When he came and picked me up, he was all dressed up and smelled real good,” Irma said of Gene. “He always smelled good. He used cologne. I felt better toward him then.”

That wound up being the start of a relationship between Irma and Gene. They married Aug. 14, 1949, and today, they are celebrating 70 years of marriage.

On Saturday, an open house is set from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Heritage Green clubhouse, 5584 N. Sandy Creek Drive, Seymour. Family and friends are invited to attend.

“Oh, it has been wonderful, awesome,” Irma, 88, said of their 70 years together.

“I never thought we’d make it,” Gene, 93, said.

“We’ve gotten along mostly. We’ve had our arguments, but he’s easy-going. He’s gotten more grouchy as he has gotten older,” Irma said, smiling.

Before they met, Gene had served in the U.S. Navy for a little more than two years. He spent 19 months in the South Pacific during World War II.

“I was 18 Feb. 1, and I was in the service on March 15,” he said, noting he received his diploma from Clearspring High School right before that in 1944.

When he got out of the service, Gene said he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. One of his friends had a brother who has a barber, so Gene and his friend thought they would go to school for that.

“I said, ‘Well, that sounds pretty good,’” Gene said. “He didn’t go. I went by myself, and a year later, he went.”

Meanwhile, he met Irma, and they dated for 10 months.

The day after they went to the movies, Irma headed back to Indianapolis. She and a friend were at a drugstore near where she lived when they ran into Gene, who was living in an apartment while going to barber school.

“We were getting ready to walk out, and he said, ‘Hello, Irma,’” she said. “I didn’t know him, but then it came to me who it was, and it was him. He remembered where I said I lived in Indianapolis. He remembered the drugstore.”

Gene wanted Irma to go with him, and she had to first check with her mother.

“I went in and told Mother. She didn’t want me to go, and it was the first time I ever went back on her word, and I said, ‘I’m going,’” Irma said.

They were married Aug. 14, 1949, at Irma’s mother’s home by the Rev. Russell Ford.

“He was real kind, and I liked his touch. He was real loving and tender,” Irma said of what she liked about Gene.

“I met her and I fell for her,” Gene said.

Gene said he didn’t have a job or much money before they got married, but that changed shortly after.

“I think I had $15 in my pocket when it was over,” he said. “We got married, and I had a good job then. I was making good money.”

Their first child, Debbie, was born in Indianapolis. Gene, however, said he didn’t want to raise his daughter there.

On their way to Tennessee for a family vacation in 1952, the Pearsons stopped in Seymour, where Gene’s brother lived. He learned a local barber was retiring, so Gene went to talk to him and bought the business at 207 N. Chestnut St., and the family moved to Seymour.

Gene wound up being a barber in the city for 57 years.

“In the evening every day, I was home,” he said. “It wasn’t hard work, and I met a lot of people, a lot of friends.”

Harold Ruddick of Seymour said Gene gave him his first haircut in the 1950s.

“I had pretty curly hair and according to Dad was ‘too long for a boy,’ so Dad took me to the barber shop when Mom was not home,” Ruddick said. “Gene gave Dad a few of the curls to take home for Mom. When Dad and I got home and I walked in the kitchen, Mom cried. She loved my curly hair. Gene cut my hair until I got married in 1968. Then my wife took over.”

Irma worked at Lane Bryant while living in Indianapolis and then worked at Pages and 3D in Seymour before spending 25 years at Walmart. Most of the time, she worked in the health and beauty aids department.

She retired two years ago.

“I liked the people, and I liked the management,” she said of Walmart. “Everybody was really nice. I didn’t have any problems.”

Over the years, the Pearsons have visited all 50 states and Canada and gone on several cruises. Sometimes, they went by themselves. Other times, family members went with them.

“We just started going on vacation, and we just went from there. We loved it,” Irma said of traveling to all of the states.

Gene said he used to do a lot of hunting, fishing and going to high school basketball games, but he doesn’t do any of it anymore. Irma’s hobbies include reading books and magazines.

Their oldest daughter is deceased, but their other two daughters, Robin Everhart and Cathy Cherry, are in Seymour.

“I have always been proud of the way my parents have loved each other through the years,” Everhart said. “They have always had a strong marriage and have been a wonderful role model for me and my sisters. Love has always been the foundation for our family.”

Cherry, who lives with them, said her parents have always been each other’s best friend and gone places together.

“I’m blessed to have them as my parents and someone to look up to,” Cherry said. “It’s a blessing is what it is. It’s very awesome.”

The Pearsons agree they are fortunate to have their daughters in their lives.

“Robin takes us to most of our doctors and things, and Cathy lives with us and she does everything else,” Irma said. “They are here for us. I love them both. We have had three great girls.”

Gene said nine months ago, he was given six months to live because of some health issues. He said he told his doctor he was going to live to celebrate his 70th anniversary.

“As tough as he is, he could make it, let me tell you,” Irma said of her husband.

As for their advice to other couples, Irma said to have patience and work together, while Gene said it’s important to say, “Yes, dear.”

“You’re rotten,” Irma said to Gene while laughing.

“We’ve had a wonderful life,” Gene said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Meet the Pearsons” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Names: Robert "Gene" and Irma Pearson

Ages: He is 93, and she is 88

Hometowns: He’s from Houston, and she’s from Indianapolis

Residence: Seymour

Married: Aug. 14, 1949, in Indianapolis by the Rev. Russell Ford

Occupations: Gene was a self-employed barber for 57 years in Seymour, and Irma retired two years ago after 25 years at Walmart in Seymour

Family: Three daughters, Debbie Buffo (deceased) and Robin (Bill) Everhart and Cathy Cherry, both of Seymour; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandchild

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What: 70th wedding anniversary open house for Robert "Gene" and Irma Pearson

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday

Where: Heritage Green clubhouse, 5584 N. Sandy Creek Drive, Seymour

Who: Family and friends are invited


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