The year was 1942. Muhammed Ali was born in Louisville. World War II was ramping up with American involvement, leading to gasoline rationing here in the states. The Humphrey Bogart film “Casablanca” premiered in New York City. And for one couple here in Perry County, 1942 was the beginning of a marriage that has lasted now more than seven decades.
Elmer and Grace Gibson celebrated their 71st anniversary this past month. They were married in the old courthouse in Hazard on June 27, 1942. Mrs. Gibson spoke with the Herald this week about their lives together, which started not long before they were married.
The two met after Grace had become friends with a cousin of Elmer’s who had come to stay for a time with Grace’s sister. His cousin suggested that she send him a letter.
“She asked me if I would write him, and I said no, not unless he writes me first,” Grace remembered.
He did write, and also visited a few times, taking the bus to Perry County to spend time with the woman who would become his wife, and with whom he would spend his life.
“Back then, he had to come on the Greyhound bus, and he would come and see me,” she said. “He couldn’t afford many trips like that.”
Elmer was serving as a soldier in the U.S. Army at the time they were married during World War II. He was stationed for a time in the Aleutian Islands. Upon his return to Kentucky he worked briefly in the timber industry and trucked coal for a while, Grace noted, before beginning his career with the power company.
Grace spent some time in the National Youth Administration, and after becoming married became a housewife. She had one son, Arthur Douglas Gibson. Both Elmer, 92, and Grace, 91, live in the Hazard Health and Rehabilitation Centers.
Grace didn’t give credit to any one thing that has kept their marriage intact these past seven decades while so many other seem to be failing. It was just two years ago, after all, that a study was released showing Kentucky with some of the highest rates of divorce in the nation. But when asked the question as to how they have remained together for so long, she did refer to her faith.
“The Bible says till death do you part,” she noted.