By Tracy Sanders, Co-Owner/Co-Editor
Carroll and Martha Burgess celebrated an amazing 62 years of marriage this past September.
The lovebirds were married September, 14 1957 when Carroll was 21 and Martha, maiden name Bishop, was a 15 years old.
In January, The Woodruff Times sought out the longest married couple in the Woodruff, Enoree and Cross Anchor area to feature as a Valentine special in the February issue. Carroll and Martha Burgess were nominated for this feature by Fran Burgess, the couple’s daughter-in-law and executive director of the Woodruff Community Center. To honor the couple, The Woodruff Times hosted a dinner for them and their children at Humble Grounds to celebrate their 62 years of marriage.
Carroll and Martha, 83 and 77 now, both agree that they knew they were right for each other when they met and fell in love.
They were married at the house of Rev. Robert Edwards, the then pastor of Cedar Shoals Baptist Church in Enoree.
After the wedding, the couple headed out on their honeymoon in a 1953 Ford. Martha laughs at the memory of the car door being broke. She says, “Daddy put a latch on the door to keep them [us] from falling out. The broke door was on Carroll’s side, so I had to get out of the car so he could get out.”
The newlyweds honeymooned in Chimney Rock, N.C. after stopping for one night in Hendersonville. Returning home from their honeymoon, the young couple lived with Martha’s parents for four years. During this time Carroll and Martha added two sons to their family, Tommy and Wayne. They eventually built their family home next to Martha’s parents in Enoree and still live there to this day.
The couple believes that trust and honesty are the most important attributes of a good spouse.
The fondest memories Carroll and Martha have of their six decades together is building their family. The pair have two grandchildren, Hannah Norris and Barry Burgess, as well as nine great-grandchildren: Caleb, 18, Hayley, 10, Sadie Mae (in heaven), Bella Rae, 7, Aben, 5, Paitra Joy, 3 and Amos, 18 months, plus two more on the way.
The couple acknowledges that they encountered hardships along the way. Martha says, “There are no married couples that are not going to have words [disagreements] sometimes. You have to work it out and you have to give and you have to take.” She adds, “Nowadays, married couples will say, ‘we’ll try’. Back in my day, you just did and didn’t look elsewhere.”
One of the hardest times for the family was when Martha was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 50. Martha is very proud to be a 26-year survivor.
But the good times far out numbered the bad. During the dinner, the family began laughing rallied Carroll to tell the story about the rabbit. Carroll said, “I was on my way home from work one night, coming up Price House Road. It was winter time and I ran over a rabbit in the road. So I stopped the car to grab the rabbit up for supper. I laid the rabbit in the back floorboard, closed the door and started across that bridge. That rabbit come alive and hit me in the back. I slammed the breaks to hard, I liked to have thrown myself out of the car. That rabbit jumped out and left. The car was a straight drive and I was so nervous I couldn’t get the clutch out.”
There’s no shortage of stories from these two. Like the time Martha bought the wrong bullets for Carroll’s gun, which ended with Carroll flying backwards to the ground. Or the time Carroll lost his shoe in the snow, trying to end the life of another rabbit (oh, Carroll and his rabbit stories). Or the time they found Robbie Gwinn (a local business owner in Woodruff) sitting in the middle of a four-lane highway in Myrtle Beach. The next time you see Carroll and Martha ask them to share one of their stories.
Martha says, “But most of all, we have been blessed. There are so many couples where both of them are not still living. God has been good to us and blessed us.”