Jesse Carlton Crenshaw, 101, and lIa Lou Richardson Crenshaw, 96, of Ephesus, Ga., celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary at Higgins Hospital in Bremen with family, friends and staff of Tanner Health System. Numerous well-wishers dropped by to congratulate the couple who were married on Jan. 29, 1933. He was 21, and she was 16.
“We have always been nice to each other, and never hit one another,” said Mrs. Crenshaw about their long life together.
“Paw Paw drove a one-horse road cart to get married,” said 71-year-old daughter, Colleen Crenshaw Workman, relating one of her mom’s favorite stories. “Paw Paw stopped to pick up Maw Maw at her house. When they came out of the house, the mule that pulled the cart ran away. They had to catch the mule before going on the preacher’s house to get married.”
The Crenshaws were married at the east central Alabama home of William Spradlin, pastor of the Napoleon Church of Christ, where they became the congregation’s oldest members.
“Paw Paw drove their car to church services in Napoleon up until a few weeks ago,” said Mrs. Workman. “He pulled their camper, and they camped with family and friends until recently.”
lIa said her romance with Carlton began about two years before their marriage.
“He was going with another girl. All of a sudden, when we moved close by, he just quit, and went to going with me. I just liked the way he walked.”
Carlton said, “I liked the looks of her pretty well, I guess; she looked pretty good then.”
The couple has always liked to walk together, holding hands. The Crenshaw Trail, near their Ephesus home, was created in 2009 to honor Carlton and lIa.
“We never fight,” said lIa. “Sometimes we get fretted with one another, but it don’t last long. He just don’t talk enough. He thinks I talk too much.”
Daughter Claris Crenshaw Brown, 68, acknowledged that “They never argued or fussed at the children.”
Another daughter, 58-year-old Terrie Crenshaw Kidd, said, “A lot of couples now do their own thing. Mother and daddy were never like that.”
Carlton was born on Oct. 23, 1911, near Woodland, Ala. He worked at a sawmill, drove a lumber truck, and didn’t retire until age 85. lIa was born in Fredonia, Ala., on July 3, 1916. She stayed at home mostly, working only a short while at a Franklin, Ga., clothing shop that made baby outfits.
In addition to their three daughters, the Crenshaws have a 77-year-old son, Denzil Crenshaw, who is a U.S. Army veteran.
All four Crenshaw children attended the anniversary party, as did several of their nine grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. The Crenshaws also have two great-great-grandchildren.
Granddaughter Donna Alvis said, “Maw Maw wanted to do something nice for the students at Ephesus Elementary School. So she went to the school recently and gave a dollar bill individually to each of the 170 children.”
At the reception, lIa and the kinfolks beamed when she was presented with an oversized thank you card signed by all the students.
Higgins General Hospital of Bremen hosted the reception for the Crenshaws. The couple undergo physical therapy at Higgins in the “Swing Bed” program – a lower level of intensive care following hospital treatment.
Director of Nursing B.J. Brock said, “It’s wonderful. I don’t think I’ll ever get to witness another 80th wedding anniversary. It’s their goal to get to go back home. That’s what ‘Swing Bed’ is all about.”
Rehabilitation Operations Manager Regina Vines said, “I feel privileged to be a part of such a special time in their lives.”
Vines echoed Brock’s feeling about the Swing Bed plan: “It’s getting people back to active lives.”
In February 2012, President Obama praised a Las Vegas couple who were to celebrate their 79th anniversary last April, while the Crenshaws were already celebrating number 79 two months earlier.
When asked how long they want to stay married, Carlton and lIa joked that five more years ought to be enough.
Great-grandson Dallis Jackson, 16, of Carrollton was asked which “Paw Paw and Maw Maw” story he liked best.
“There are too many to choose from,” he said. “I like ‘em all.”