Sikeston couple shares secrets of 70 years of happy marriage

Monday, February 14, 2011
Ferrell and Willine Moore marked 70 years of marriage in November. (Michelle Felter ~ Standard Democrat)

SIKESTON, Mo. -- Nowadays, it seems to be a big accomplishment for a couple to reach 50 years of marriage.

But Ferrell and Willine Miller of Sikeston have surpassed that, and still have a marriage filled with love. The couple, who married Nov. 24, 1940, recently celebrated 70 years of marriage.

"We signed up for life, and we never considered anything else," Willine said. "We've never looked for a way out."

"We never really thought that we'd get this old and be married this long," Ferrell said. "But it seems like it's always been the two of us."

Ferrell did admit that for everyone, marriage is hard work -- and their marriage is no different. Willine said there has also been a lot of prayer during their 70 years of marriage.

As a young couple, the Millers dealt with deployment and Army service.

"I got married and went to war," Ferrell said. "It was kind of rough."

He was first mobilized in the National Guard, and the family moved to Little Rock, Ark. After about a year, he was released for a hardship.

In January 1945, he was called back, and the family -- which now included two young boys -- moved to Texas for his training. He was later deployed to the Philippines, during which time his wife and sons moved back to Missouri.

Willine said that was one of the most difficult times during their 70-year marriage.

"We know he was heading for the invasion of Japan when he left here, and I had two little boys to take care of," she said.

To keep in touch, the couple often wrote letters to each other.

Ferrell returned home after a year, and the couple went on to have three more children. Now, they also have seven grandchildren and seven stepgrandchildren.

Roy Miller said what his parents have is not only special, but an inspiration to the entire family.

"They have such a strong foundation with each other," he said. "They are very faithful, God-serving people, and they lean on that to get them through the tough times."

Willine will turn 89 today -- Valentine's Day, fittingly -- while her husband will turn 92 later this month.

"They are just two wonderful, special people," Roy Miller said. "Of course, all children will say that about their parents, but they really are."

Ferrell was manager of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. in Sikeston and retired in 1983. His wife stayed at home until their children began school, then she served as director for the Kiddie Land nursery school at Eastside Nazarene Church and later worked for 15 years at H&R Block.

In their retirement, the two said they've had a lot of time for hobbies.

"We do gardening," Willine said.

And the couple has found that every moment spent together doesn't have to be filled with conversation.

"There are times that we're just content to sit and have nobody talk," Willine said.

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