Arwilda, 98-year-old, and her husband, 102-year-old Cleovis Whiteside, an exceptional couple hailing from Arkansas, have marked an astounding 84 years of matrimonial bliss. They are potentially recognized as the longest-married couple in the entire nation. Their remarkable journey spans over eight decades, a testament to the profound bond they share and the enduring secret to their union.

Their love story began in 1939.

Cleovis and Arwilda’s first encounter took place when he was 13, and she was merely 9 years old. Recalling the moment, Arwilda described it as happening «in the fork of a road.»

Cleovis often found himself in the company of his stepbrother Elmo, who had special needs. Elmo had a habit of approaching young girls and grabbing their hands, a behavior Cleovis, being taller, would intervene to stop, as recounted by the couple’s daughter, Kathy Whiteside-Sims.

One particular day, as Arwilda was walking along the road, her friend advised her to seek refuge with the taller boy, Cleovis, assuring her that he would protect her. When Arwilda sought shelter with him, Cleovis felt a strong sense that she would be his future wife.

Their paths crossed again at a church event where girls and women prepared boxed suppers for local boys and men to purchase. It was there that Cleovis bought Arwilda’s boxed supper for 40 cents, a gesture that left a lasting impression.

Additionally, they attended the same school, a one-room institution where children of various ages, including older sharecroppers, gathered irregularly.

Their journey together officially began on July 24, 1939, when Arwilda and Cleovis exchanged vows and embarked on a lifelong commitment.

The Whitesides were also known for their generous contributions to raising children beyond their own.

Life circumstances led Cleovis and Arwilda to endure periods of separation, notably when Cleovis departed in the early 1940s to army service. Upon his return in 1945, he pursued studies in auto mechanics at Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College.

Cleovis’s enrollment in school came unexpectedly, as he traveled over 60 miles from Clarendon to Pine Bluff to enlist, only to be instructed to begin immediately, according to his daughter. «He wasn’t able to go back home to Clarendon,» Whiteside-Sims explained. «It was a process of calling somebody to call somebody to go and tell somebody, ’I’m not coming home. I’m in school.’»

Following his education, Cleovis secured employment at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, while Arwilda dedicated herself to homemaking and caring for their children. Throughout their marriage, the couple embraced the responsibility of raising their own 12 children, while also offering support to other local children in need of shelter.

«Sometimes they had children that lived with them,» shared Dean from the Arkansas Family Council. «They were just pillars in the community

Arwilda admires her husband’s generosity immensely. «He is always trying to help people,» she expressed.

When asked about his favorite aspect of his wife, Cleovis couldn’t narrow it down to just one thing. Instead, he lovingly stated, «I love 99% of her,» encapsulating his deep affection for Arwilda.

A powerful secret to long-lasting marriage.

Since 1939, Cleovis, aged 102, and Arwilda, aged 98, have been reflecting on their decades-long marriage, attributing their success to a sense of inner strength and resilience. «We can hardly believe this is happening to us because we feel like, we were the least,» Arwilda expressed that something greater guided them through the life.

A powerful secret to their long-lasting marriage is to have unwavering belief, learn to persevere, and cultivate a deep sense of inner strength. Arwilda shared, «That is going to have to take you through all kinds of storms.» This advice, stemming from the couple’s 84 years of marriage, is directed at couples contemplating marriage in the near future.

The Whitesides have shared a life full of love and family, having raised 12 children, 45 grandchildren, 91 great-grandchildren, and 27 great-great-grandchildren.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *