63 Years Later, Their Marriage Has Never Been Stronger
Harold and Alice McGlamery know what makes a marriage work. After all, they have been married for more than 63 years.
Harold first heard about Alice while he was a student at Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Texas. His roommate told him about Alice, who was living in Oklahoma, but Harold had no chance to meet her. However, after Alice graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University and taught for a year, she decided to attend the same Texas seminary. One day, in a downstairs dining hall, someone introduced them. She had never heard of Harold and was not particularly impressed. But he was impressed, and a friendship grew.
“It took me two or three months to convince her that you can’t go by looks and first impressions,” Harold said.
“He was persistent,” said Alice, “and friendly. I guess he grew on me. Also I didn’t want a weakling.”
She first noticed his strength when he put his arms around her as they went skating. Harold told her how he got his strength: by hard work on a wheat farm in the Texas Panhandle during the Dust Bowl. He used a one-way plow that stirred up the top layer of soil. The last year he farmed his 160 acres, he harvested only 12 bushels of wheat.
Harold and Alice continued to see each other for the next eight months. One day, Harold visited Alice’s family in Doniphan, Mo. He wanted to propose, but there was little privacy in the two-story Victorian house. Her parents and brothers had bedrooms downstairs and Alice’s bedroom was upstairs, so he found a way to be alone with her. In the hall in front of her bedroom door, looking out the window of the upstairs balcony, Harold asked her to marry him.
“It would be a good match,” he said. “I liked dark meat, she liked white, plus her father produced chickens.”
“You’ll have to ask my daddy,” Alice told him, not surprised by the wedding proposal since he had dropped lots of hints. Even though Harold was a poor preacher in 1942, her father agreed.
Their wedding day was a journey. Harold preached a revival in Kingston, Okla. Early the next morning he drove to Olney, Texas, to pick up Alice where she was working. They sped to Fort Worth for the maid of honor, continuing on to Missouri in time for the wedding ceremony. Still without sleep, they drove on a mountainous gravel road 75 miles at 35 miles per hour to a “bowl and pitcher” hotel. It wasn’t the best accommodations for a honeymoon since a bowl and pitcher means the lavatory is down the hall.
For more than 20 years, Harold was a pastor. Alice followed him doing whatever job was needed, such as church secretary, children’s worker or schoolteacher. They raised three daughters – Judy and twins Ann and Jan. (Ann is married to Dr. Frank Davis, a family physician in Edmond.)
Marriage Encounters were in their future. After retirement, Harold and Alice spent the next 13 years presenting Marriage Encounter seminars — 126 times. They traveled around the world for these weekend retreats, even going to European military bases. Now they could share all they had learned about marriage. People at the seminars listened to them because Harold and Alice had lived what they taught. As the couple prepared for the seminars, they also learned more about each other.
Harold explains his side of the marriage: “I would always jump to express my opinion. I had a mask of authority
because I didn’t want Alice to get too close, so sometimes I created an unhappy situation for her. I came to see that I needed to listen first, and understand what made her happy, sad or discouraged. Although I still express my opinions, I’ve learned to do it more kindly.”
Alice’s side of the marriage story is slightly different: “You don’t really know your mate until you know how they feel. I started listening to his side and how he felt. I learned that I have an obligation to share my own opinions, and the freedom to do that. We learned more about each other every time we worked together to give a seminar.”
Harold has had a lifelong faith and teaches the value of prayer and the richness of play. He always took time to do things with his family even when he was busy, and he taught the children to live within their means. He had a woodworking hobby that benefited everyone.
As the mother in the family, Alice prayed for her children, demonstrating service and joy in giving. She taught life skills that included more than the beautiful, extensive sewing she did.
The couple now lives in a spacious condominium in Edmond, walls covered with progressive family photos of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Displays of antique spoons, a New England trivet collection and Hummel plates adorn the house.
The heartwarming couple can be seen in church on Sunday mornings. Harold patiently pushes 87-year-old Alice in a wheelchair down the aisles. She breathes oxygen from a portable unit, which gives her strength to make it through one more day together. Their marriage has never been stronger.