Couple Celebrates Milestone Anniversary

August 11, 2015

Many notable things happened in 1943. Construction of the Pentagon was completed. Frank Sinatra made his radio debut on "Your Hit Parade". "Porgy and Bess" opened on Broadway. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the supreme Allied commander.

And Jerry and Otis Gregg got married.

In case you haven't done the math that was 72 years ago.

Jerry and Otis quietly celebrated this milestone anniversary last month at their home at Lake Prince Woods.

When asked about their courtship, Jerry said, "I'm afraid that's my fault." Having graduated from Madison College (now James Madison University) in 1942 and promising her father she would teach school for at least one year, she found a teaching position at Deep Creek and lived with a college friend and her family in Portsmouth. Her friend's boyfriend decided Jerry needed a young man, too, and brought Otis to meet her.

"We looked at each other and it was just like we were made for each other," she said. After dating for a year the couple married on July 23, 1943 and lived in Port Norfolk before Otis was drafted and went to Germany in World War II. Jerry returned to her parents' home in Boynton, Virginia, and stayed with them while Otis was overseas.

When Otis returned he attended what was then Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Jerry taught school in Blacksburg.

Fast forward a few years and the Greggs are back in Portsmouth. Otis's professional career took him to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a draftsman, and he ended his career of Newport News Shipyard. Jerry taught school and received her master's degree from The College of William and Mary.

Otis and Jerry were members at Green Acres Presbyterian Church; in fact, Otis was the first treasurer the church had and later served as treasurer again for 15 consecutive years. Both Otis and Jerry were active in community organizations. He has been in the Lions Club for 62 years and had a large HO train collection. Jerry was active in the Woman's Club, American Association of University Women, and the Tidewater Chapter of the Needlework Guild of America from which she won a Best in Show red ribbon for one of her creations.

Otis and Jerry were blessed with two children. Son Bill is an Episcopal bishop serving in Mexico and daughter Jeter recently retired as a sonographer in Northern Virginia. Three grandsons, Parker in Richmond, Patrick in Kansas City, and Nathan in Oregon, round out the family.

When asked about their decision to move to Lake Prince Woods almost six years ago, Otis said, "When we turned 90 our son decided we should consider moving to a place where we could receive care if we needed it and got information about Lake Prince Woods."

They found they knew many people already living here and they liked being able to access different levels of care as needed.

The key to 72 happy years of marriage? "Truly loving each other and respecting the other person," Jerry smiled and said.