Still Going Strong After 60 Years of Marriage

February 13, 2015

Had it not been for an exceptionally good matchmaker, Billye and Bob Walton might never have met.

These days, they're a married couple of 60 years who moved toLake Prince Woods in Suffolk 12 years ago to be closer to their daughter. But in the early 1950s, they lived in Georgia, where he was a forester and she was an elementary school teacher.

Bob and two other foresters lived in a bachelor pad in the middle of the woods, and one of them was dating a teacher colleague of Billye's.

They met when the couple brought along two friends each on a group date, and the rest was history. Both blind dates ended up getting married.

After 60 years, Billye still isn't sure if it was love at first sight.

"It was like at first sight, I know," she says.

There were other dates — and some mishaps. One time, the girls were late getting to the cabin for an outing. Billye swears it wasn't her fault. The other girl, she says, was "notorious for being late."

By the time they got there an hour after the arranged time, the boys had assumed they weren't coming and went fishing. After spending an eerie afternoon sitting alone in the cabin in the Georgia forest, the girls left.

"It was a wonder we got back together after that," Billye says now.

The couple married on June 13, 1954 ("but it wasn't a Friday," she says). They honeymooned at Fontana Dam in North Carolina and set up a life together in Georgia. They raised three children — Rebecca, Sylvia and Robert.

"If all the men in the world were in a heap, piled up, I'd be out there trying to find him, because he's the only one I think I could live with," Billye said.

It's been a rewarding 60 years, despite whatever twists and turns have come. The couple have traveled extensively together in North America, Europe and the Pacific. They now volunteer at Sentara Obici Hospital and Main Street United Methodist Church where they are members. Bob is a former president of the Lake Prince Woods Resident Association; Billye's volunteer service at Lake Prince Woods includes serving on the Worship Committee and singing in the Golden Voices choir.

Originally printed in Suffolk News-Herald