On Saturday, January 8th, Joann and Jack Spradlin will be celebrating their wedding anniversary. Although thousands of people celebrate anniversaries each year, the Spradlin’s observance is exta special, because it is their 70th Wedding Anniversary!
Statistically, this Pulaski County couple is defying the odds of remaining married to their original spouse. According to the US Census Bureau, less than one-tenth of one-per cent of current marriages ever make it to their 70th year. With those kinds of statistics, there is great reason to celebrate!
When someone reaches a monumental milestone such as this, people want to know all sorts of details. Questions such as how did you meet? Was it love at first sight? What is your secret to staying married so long?
Joann loves to talk about the details and they are as fresh in her mind as if it was just yesterday that they met.
“Jack was in the military stationed in Korea and I was attending Christiansburg High School with his brother, Edward. Of course, everyone was talking about the Korean War and writing to the GI’s to encourage them. He showed Jack’s picture to another girl, but when I saw how handsome he was, I volunteered to write to Jack,” she confessed with a winsome smile.
The couple continued to write to each other for over a year – and Joann has kept every letter Jack wrote to her. Many are meticulously typed and are now carefully preserved in an airtight box for safe keeping.
Jack served as a Sargeant in the 3rd U.S. Army Division of Company B, right on the front lines.
“When we had ‘Mail Call’ we’d line up and wait to hear if our name was called. If we got a letter, we could go off by ourselves and read it. Getting a letter from home was something I really looked forward to, but it didn’t happen often for everyone. Joann’s letters encouraged me,” he said.
Her letters encouraged Jack so much that he contacted a friend’s father who owned a jewelry store in North Carolina to help him pick out an engagement ring for Joann. He surprised her by mailing a blue diamond engagement ring and wedding ring to her in September 1951, while he was still in Korea.
Joann said, “I told him I would hold it until he got home.” She didn’t wait long to tell Jack “Yes.”
Upon Jack’s deployment from Korea, he was stationed at Ft. Knox, Kentucky until being discharged from the service in June, 1952. The couple had not met face-to-face until Jack arrived back home for a visit; and Joann met him at the bus station.
“The first time I saw her, it was after I got off the bus in Christiansburg. She was sitting in the back seat of her Mother’s car. ‘Let me see what I
got a hold of!’ I said.”
Apparently he was pleased because the couple courted for 21-days and were married on January 8, 1952. Joann says, “He was such a handsome guy, I couldn’t refuse.”
“We eloped to York, SC. We kept calling the preacher to come to the church to perform the marriage ceremony; but he never got there, so we got married in the courthouse by a judge,” Joann stated. She was 16-years old and Jack was 20. (Statistically, 48 percent of those who marry before the age of 18 are likely to divorce within 10 years)
Jack returned to Ft. Knox, found an apartment and sent for Joann where they lived until his discharge in June 1952. Upon returning home, Jack applied for a job at the Arsenal and began working the same day. After a few years, he applied at Hercules where he worked for 40 years and 1 month. Joann stayed at home and raised their daughter, Jackie, until she graduated from high school; then Joann went back to cosmetology school in 1965. She remained at Lady Fair Beauty Salon in Dublin until retiring in 2015.
The Spradlins have enjoyed traveling together on vacations to Hawaii and Jamaica, have toured the southern USA as well as the Eastern seaboard up to Maine in their RV. They joke about wherever they travel, they run into somebody who knows them, whether it’s at the beach or during one of their RV tours.
During their extensive marriage, they found ways to give back to the community. Jack is a member of Freemason and an active member of the Shrine Club, the VFW and American Legion. Joann is active in church groups. They are members of Dublin Baptist Church.
When asked how they have remained married for 70 years, Joann will tell you that God has been the foundation of their marriage.
“We made a vow before God when we got married. I thank God every day for Jack. He is a gift from God to me. I give the Lord the blessings all the way because He really has been with us.”
“Another gift from God is our daughter, Jackie Adkins and our grandson, Chris Adkins.”
Joann adds some practical advice to those wanting a life-long marriage. Respect each other and try to help each other. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs – but we faced them together. Any argument takes two – if you shut your mouth and walk away, there is no argument. The more you say, the worse it gets, and you say things you don’t really mean. It takes a lot of forgiveness in marriage, so just forgive and go on.”
Jack insisted that the Spradlins celebrate their 70th Wedding Anniversary with a few neighbors and friends coming by to say hello. “A 70th Anniversary only happens once in your lifetime, so you should celebrate,” he adds.
Normally, 70th Anniversary gifts would be of platinum because it is precious, strong, enduring and doesn’t tarnish. Others say that platinum represents integrity, truth and purity of true love.
Joann says they don’t want friends to bring gifts because they have everything they need. But if she could have one gift, though, she said she would, “Wish that everyone could get along with each other. That everyone would receive the gift of God in their hearts.”
We are wishing Jack and Joann Spradlin a very happy 70th Anniversary, and many more to come.
By DANIELLE REID, The Patriot