Wood, originally from Illinois, was stationed at Blackland Army Airfield in Waco during World War II. After the servicemen's daily duties were complete, a group of them commonly would meet in the chapel for Bible study. One Sunday, Woody accepted an invitation from the study group leader to go to the Third Street Baptist Church in Waco, where Doris and her family attended.
“As we walked in there and sat down, I asked him, 'Who is that good looking girl on the front row of the choir against the wall?'” Wood said. “He said, 'Forget it. She's already taken.' I thought he meant she was married. Then the story was that they invited us home to eat dinner with them and one of her boyfriends at church brought her home.”
Doris soon broke up with her boyfriend, and the two were married just before Woody got out of the service in December 1945.
Woody and Doris are one of three couples living in Atria Willow Park senior living community, on Vine Avenue in Tyler, who have been married for more than 60 years.
Each couple said their long and fulfilling marriages were a product of having God in their lives.
“Church is a good stabilizer,” Woody said. “Knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior is a very, very important commodity when you are building a marriage and a family.”
The couple has been married for 67 years and has two children, four grandchildren and one great-great grandchild, with another expected later this year.
Doris said she told her own children never to go to bed angry and to wait until the right person came a long to get married.
“Don't worry about hurrying and getting married,” she said. “If you're not in too big of a hurry, it lasts a long time.”
Dick and Mary Hudson said they met at Hogg Middle School in Tyler, and they began dating after Dick asked Mary to a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend during their junior year of high school.
“I liked her because she was little and delicate, blonde and petite, and good things come in small packages, (like) diamonds, pearls and emeralds,” Dick said.
After a four-year courtship, the couple married in July 1945.
“He swelled up to his full height and said, 'you mean I can go fight a war, but I have to have my parents' permission to get married?” Mary said.
The man reached over, grabbed Dick's hand and patted it, Mary said, and told him, “Son what you're about to do is a lot more dangerous than fighting a war.”
The couple has been married for 67 years and has two children, seven grand children and 11 great-grandchildren.
The couple moved to Nacogdoches with their pre-teen children while in their early-30s to study education at Stephen F. Austin University. Each worked as an elementary school teacher.
Through the up and downs of life and marriage, Dick and Mary said God kept them centered.
“(You) must have God first and each other second,” Mary said.
Marjorie and Sam Ethridge said they initially met while waiting for the school bus every morning in rural Hunt County. While the two did not attend the same grade schools, both went to Cumby High School where they played basketball.
They have been together for 71 years and have two children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Sam said one of his favorite stories from their early days of marriage was when Marjorie made him dinner, which included a syrup pie.
“I got that syrup pie, and she had cooked it too long,” he said. “You could take a spoon and hit it, and it'd bounce.”
The two lived in Greenville for most of their married life, and they said it was their faith that kept their marriage strong.
“We had our ups and down just like everyone else, but you have to put your faith out there and work it out,” Marjorie said. “You have to learn how to trust each other, and you need to learn that early on.”
It wasn't always easy, but Marjorie said it turned out just as God planned.
“We have had a good life together,” she said. “We have had our funs, we have had our sorrows, but that's what God intends for us to have.”