By Joel Hall
The Great Depression, prolonged separation, and World War II were not enough to keep a handful of Clayton County couples from honoring their marriage vows.
On Tuesday, the county honored its oldest married couples for their faithfulness, perseverance, and above all, patience.
The Clayton County Marriage and Family Initiative recognized eight Clayton County couples married for 60 years or longer in a Marriage Ceremony at the Recreation Outreach Center at First Baptist Church of Jonesboro.
The celebration was an effort to promote healthy marriages, by showing that marriage can work "if you work at it," according to Mimi Holland, chair of the Marriage and Family Initiative.
Among those honored were Grady and Lucile Boyd, both 90 years old and married for 72 years.
Holland, who has been married to her husband, Tommy, for 46 years, said the room full of lifelong couples and their families are an "inspiration and example."
"Whenever we go into a crowd, people say, 'Wow, you've been married for so long,'" said Holland. "In this group today, we feel like we just started. It's such an inspiration to me.
"When you have healthy marriages and strong families, you are going to have healthy and strong communities," Holland added.
Grady Boyd and his wife, Lucile, were sweethearts in grammar school.
"[Other school children] used to tease us about holding hands going down the hall," said Lucile.
The Boyds were both 17 and living in the middle of the Great Depression when they married in 1935. Surviving the challenges of poverty, the couple faced another when Grady was stationed in Japan with the Army to assist in the post-WW II occupational efforts.
"Anybody that tells you that they don't have any problems, they are lying," said Grady. However, "If I looked the world over, I don't think that I could have found a better wife, or a better mother than she has been."
"You don't live together 72 years without disagreeing with each other sometimes," said Lucile. "I still love him after all these years, so I guess that's what made it work."
Clayton County Commissioner Virginia Gray, a board member of the Marriage and Family Initiative, said while the initiative was a little more than a year old, it provided a vehicle to address high rates of divorce and domestic violence in the county.
"We have so many issues with families," said Gray. "This is a steppingstone to reach some of our young people. We need some strong role models and some initiatives to help promote strong marriages.
"That kind of real love is what we are trying to show the young people," Gray continued. "It's not just about living together. We really want to instill in them the respect for the institute of marriage."
"Children now, if they have a disagreement, they don't try to work it out," said Lucile. "You're better off to stay together than to go your separate ways."