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Pair celebrating 71 years

May 23, 1999|By BRUCE HAMILTON

BOONSBORO - Few loves last as long as the marriage of Charles and Ima Wise.

The blue-eyed sweethearts celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary the same way they spend every Sunday: They went to Tri-State Church of God in Boonsboro.

Youth Pastor Tim Fisher, himself a newlywed, involved the couple in the service by asking their secret to making a marriage last.

"Be good to each other," Ima Wise replied. Charles Wise agreed.

That is the secret - always agree with your wife, Fisher said jokingly.

The Wises met when Calvin Coolidge was president. It was just before the Great Depression, in the year Amelia Earhart became the first female passenger on a trans-Atlantic flight.

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It was a lifetime ago, but Ima Wise remembers it well. She went to a wedding supper for Charles' sister on Dec. 28, 1927. She was 19 years old.

There was thick snow on the ground and Ima's aunt didn't want her to walk home alone. "How about letting Charles Wise walk you home?" the aunt asked. Ima said she didn't know him.

"Well, you will," her aunt replied.

That winter walk was the beginning of their five-month courtship. "I had no idea I'd go back, but I did," said Charles. Two weeks later, he wrote to say he wanted to see her again.

She lived in Mapleville. He lived in Middletown and didn't own a vehicle. He had to walk a lot, but his visits became regular, about once every two weeks.

They got married in a Middletown parsonage around midnight on May 23, 1928. Although they arrived at 7:30 p.m., the pastor was in Pennsylvania and didn't return until later that night.

They had no honeymoon, going to work instead. The Wises were farmers for 59 years. They had four children and now live with their son, Austin.

They have three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren, according to Charles.

As they sat in the pew Sunday, the gray-haired couple showed the quiet faith they said kept them together. Ima taught Sunday school at the church's last location on Lakin Avenue for 33 years.

They are loyal churchgoers, according to Fisher. "They are here every Sunday," he said. "Sometimes they show up 30 minutes early."

It may be no surprise, but the Wises don't believe in divorce, separation and "all that nonsense."

Said Ima, "My determination was to stay with him as long as he'd let me."

Said Charles, "I always tried to obey my wedding vows: for better or for worse, 'til death do us part."

Too many young couples get mad and split up too soon - they should try to work it out, he said.

Ima agreed. "They should honor each other, attend church, help one another and love one another," she said.

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