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Couples talk about keys to long-lasting marriages
by Bobby Tedder
February 15, 2014 06:49 AM | 3423 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Mary Helen and J.T. Ford hold their wedding photo from June 1943 in the lobby of Lenbrook, where they have lived for almost 10 years. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Mary Helen and J.T. Ford hold their wedding photo from June 1943 in the lobby of Lenbrook, where they have lived for almost 10 years. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last year.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / J.T. and Mary Helen Ford's wedding photo is on display among pictures of their family in their Lenbrook residence.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / J.T. and Mary Helen Ford's wedding photo is on display among pictures of their family in their Lenbrook residence.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Ruth and Herb Daws, who have been married for 65 years, are active in the Sandy Springs community where they have lived for 30 years.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Ruth and Herb Daws, who have been married for 65 years, are active in the Sandy Springs community where they have lived for 30 years.
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Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Sandy Springs residents Herb and Ruth Dawes were married in 1948.
Staff / Samantha M. Shal / Sandy Springs residents Herb and Ruth Dawes were married in 1948.
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James Thomas “J.T.” Ford still fondly recalls the first time he met his college sweetheart, Mary Helen.

“I met her, liked her and pursued her,” he said.

So resolute was he about his feelings for the young woman four years his junior, he expedited their courtship. The couple wed nine months later.

That was back in 1943.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Neighbor Newspapers interviewed local couples who have been married for at least half a century.

J.T. and Helen Ford

The apple of J.T. Ford’s eye is still as spry as the day is long. And, at age 89, she garners no shortage of compliments from her soulmate.

“She’s a very bright woman … who’s been my coach as well as my wife,” he said. “She’s been a good mother as well as a fine professional.”

Married 70 years, the pair has amassed a lifetime of memories together since meeting on the Union University campus in Jackson, Tenn.

They have resided in Buckhead since 1955 — he pastor emeritus of Wieuca Road Baptist Church; she a retired guidance counselor in DeKalb and Gwinnett county schools.

“When we moved here, the tallest building in Buckhead was a two-story mom and pop shop,” J.T. said. “And, we have seen it all happen since then — everything being built [from the ground up].”

The Fords are the proud parents of three sons, two of them deceased.

The couple’s interaction — a giddy playfulness steeped in a palpable chemistry — perhaps informs their level of devotion to one another.

J.T. credits their adherence to the “50-50 rule” as the secret of his marriage’s longevity.

“You both have to be [partners] and eager to sustain your marriage beyond age 50,” he said.

For her part, Mary Helen was a little more succinct.

“I’ve always told him he’s on probation,” she said with a grin. “So, he’s always [acted accordingly].”

Herb and Ruth Daws

Herb and Ruth Daws, of Sandy Springs, celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in November.

They will let you know when they are ready to slow down.

Herb Daws, a retired postmaster, met Ruth while at work in Washington. The two were married at Emory Chapel shortly after moving to Atlanta in 1948.

“I didn’t realize [the 65-year milestone] was that big of a deal until so many people kept mentioning it,” said Ruth, 87, with a laugh. “But, I guess it is quite an accomplishment.”

Herb, unsolicited, heaped praise on his longtime love.

“She’s supported me all these years in my work and social activities,” the 86-year-old said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Like the Fords, the Dawses have a two-peas-in-a-pod air about them.

In that vein, each prefers to maintain busy social/civic calendars. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club; she’s an active member of Heritage Sandy Springs and the Sandy Springs Society.

Unsurprisingly, their respective takes on the keys to a long, happy marriage are also compatible.

“I would say it is respecting one another,” Ruth said.

Her husband singled out communication as the secret to their success.

“When I came home from a hard day at work, it was nice to have someone to confide in, to talk to,” he said.

Added Ruth, “That is true — I was a sounding board…that’s what he needed.”

The Dawses, who have two children and four grandsons, still celebrate Valentine’s Day. Like many couples, they typically mark the occasion by sharing greeting cards, going out to dinner and with flowers.

The couple acknowledged looking forward to Valentine’s 2014 and many to follow.

Said Herb, “We’re reasonably healthy, active and mobile. … We’re enjoying life and looking forward to the future.”
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