CRESTVIEW — Thursday marks a milestone for a Crestview couple’s relationship, and a rarity for most couples: 70 years of wedded bliss.
Friends and family of Marlin and Charlotte Bass, 89 and 87, respectively, filled First Baptist Church of Crestview’s fellowship hall on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the occasion. The couple, who married Dec. 20, 1942, celebrated an early anniversary to accommodate loved ones.
The Basses have three children, 11 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren who attended the celebration, which was open to the public. A new great-great grandchild was absent.
Although the party had plenty of cake, fruit punch and presents, the couple were too busy socializing to have any of it.
"I wasn't expecting this many people,” said Dudley Bass, 56, the youngest of siblings Jeffery Dean Bass, 63, and Dottie Lynn, 61.
Charlotte expected the packed house.
"We knew there would be a lot (of people) here. We are a very loving family," she said with a smile.
The crowd included several church members like Scotty and Jan Cline, who attend Sunday school with Basses.
"It's more than a milestone," Jan Cline said. "They are the sweetest people and the most dedicated Christians."
Jeffery traveled from Tennessee to share in his parents’ special occasion.
"There are very few families who can have this type of celebration," he said.
And after 70 years, the couple are still going strong — literally.
"We are proud that they are in as good shape as they are,” Jeffery said. "They are pretty much independent” and drive around.
"For their age, they get around great," Dudley said.
Relatives said the couple has stayed young at heart.
"They haven't seemed to lose their enthusiasm at their age," grandchild Janet Fitzgerald said. "They still have fun with each other."
Some of the younger family members marveled at the marriage’s longevity.
"It’s unbelievable that they have been together for that long," said great grandchild Lillie Gaillard, 10. "I know that (Marlin) was in World War II; that's pretty cool."
Her mother, Erin, found her grandparents’ long lasting marriage inspirational.
"I think it sets an example for all of us," she said. "My husband, David, and I will be married for 14 years in February."
Marlin and Charlotte met through mutual friends while attending Munson School. The pair attended several social functions like afterschool parties together before their friendship bloomed into something greater.
"In the summertime of that year (1942) is when we decided to get serious," Charlotte said.
After their marriage, Marlin joined the U.S. Army for six years and served in World War II.
Post-military life meant trying different jobs like selling life insurance, working as a Gulf Power meter reader and moving onto the next thing.
"He has experience in everything," said Charlotte, who worked 22 years in the Okaloosa County School System.
The couple’s three children — who came after Marlin left the military — eventually helped the family grow to what it is this day.
Despite an enduring marriage that will span seven decades, disagreements arise, the couple said, but they manage to work things out.
"Time is a marvelous healer of all things," Charlotte said.
But a healthy marriage requires each other’s hard work, Marlin said.
"We worked through all of this together," Marlin said. "It was a cooperative effort all the way around."
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Matthew Brown at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbMatthew.