The Rev. Carl and Wilene Lambert celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Sept. 26 during a party given in their honor by the First Baptist Church of Crestview.
CRESTVIEW — When the Rev. Carl and Wilene Lambert exchanged marriage vows on Sept. 26. 1942, the United States had already been in World War II for nine months. The couple, who had only graduated from high school three months before their wedding, knew their faith would carry them through whatever life threw at them.
Carl Lambert served two years in the military during the war before returning to his college studies and being ordained a Baptist minister. Then he and his young bride set out to serve the Lord.
“When God called, we went,” Wilene said.
It was no surprise. She said she knew that God would always be an integral part of their lives.
“When I first met his parents, his mom said, ‘God has called him to the ministry,’ and I said, ‘I know. Carl’s told me about that,’” she said.
Carl would eventually serve as pastor in five churches in three states over a quarter of a century, including Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church in Baker. “That was my longest pastoring in one place,” he said. “That was seven years there.”
Then he became director of missions for regional Baptist churches in Alabama and Florida before retiring in 1988 to the home they had bought in Baker.
Between bites of a sumptuous anniversary party buffet hosted by the First Baptist Church of Crestview Wednesday evening, the Lamberts shared their advice on living contentedly together for seven decades.
May we ask how old you are?
Carl: Would you believe I’m 89 years old?
Wilene: I don’t tell my age so don’t even ask me.
How did you meet?
Carl: It was a little unusual…
Wilene: …I claimed him in sixth grade! Ours were little grade schools in the country. They decided to consolidate our schools. My dad was the school bus driver and he believed in getting there on time. I was one of the new girls.
Carl: She beat me to school that morning…
Wilene: …Well, in comes this little white-headed guy and I said, ‘That’s the guy I’m going to marry.’ We started dating in the 11th grade. It just developed as we went along. We finished school in June 1942 and got married in September.
How did he propose?
Wilene: He was going to give me a ring, but it was just a birthstone ring but everybody thought it was an engagement ring. In the 11th grade! Well, we were on the school bus going home and somebody said, ‘Carl gave Wilene an engagement ring.’
Daddy was driving the bus and he was real protective of his girls, so I said, ‘I don’t know what they’re talking about.’ But later he gave me a real engagement ring.
Do you have children and grandchildren?
Wilene: We had two boys, Carl Junior and Ray Lambert. Carl got cancer and he passed away. It runs in the family. My mama had it and I had it, too.
Carl Junior had two girls and a boy, and our younger son had four boys. Some of those Lamberts believe in boys. Carl’s aunt had boys and we had boys. I tell people I didn’t get a girl until Carl Junior got married.
Did you work, too, Mrs. Lambert?
Wilene: I kept house and raised my boys. I didn’t want to work. But you could call keeping house work, I suppose. Sometimes I worked now and then for Mildred McClellan’s fabric shop in Crestview.
What pastimes do you enjoy?
Carl: Fishing! I like to fish, but she doesn’t let me anymore. I’m a little different than the country pastor in the story. He was sittin’ there on his porch reading his paper and a car pulled up and the driver said, ‘Hey pastor, would you like some of these fish I just caught?’ The pastor said, ‘Are they cleaned?’
Wilene: I don’t fish. I used to when I was a girl. But I would cook them for him (Carl).
What advice would you offer couples for having a nice, long marriage like yours?
Carl: Have a lot of loving and a lot of patience. They work together.
Wilene: And a lot of forgiving and a lot of forgetting. It’s give and take. If you can’t forgive, you can’t take.