FAIRFIELD — Best friends. Then in love. Then spouses.
That’s what three couples, married as teens, told the Daily Republic. One couple will celebrate their 69th wedding anniversary this year.
John “Jack” Sorrelle and his wife, Carla, were 18 and 19 when they eloped during World War II. They tried to keep the vows a secret, but family figured it out. After the wedding, she returned home to live with her parents, he headed overseas to fight in the war.
“There were a lot of wartime marriages where people met, were attracted to each other, got married, then figured out they didn’t know each other,” he said.
Now 86 and 88, the Sorrelles say they are really enjoying the golden years together.
“Our commitments to life are wrapped up. We have our every wish catered to,” she said of life in the Paradise Valley Estates retirement community. “We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do.”
A variety of factors have played key roles in that happiness. He writes poetry. Some are just for her.
“Love is not just candlelight and soft music,” he wrote in an email to the newspaper. “Love is built upon a long and continual accumulation of ‘the little things.’ ”
The couple met in their high school library. He was going steady with someone else at the time. They began to double date and soon discovered they liked each other more than their respective dates.
“I liked his sense of humor,” Carla Sorrelle said.
He added, with a smile, “You have a great sense of humor or you wouldn’t still be with me.”
In the early years of their marriage, attending college and working left them little time to fight, she said.
“We struggled together,” he said. “I can remember when we got our first car. We just sat in the car because we had a car.”
Andre and Annette Davis met at Armijo High School and have been married 34 years. And, at 16, welcomed a baby boy. They wed when they were 18.
“We didn’t fall in love, we grew in love,” he said. “You can fall out of love.”
Both minister at juvenile hall in Fairfield and share their story with the youth they meet. He recently got a letter from a young man who will be released in May and become a father in June. The teen wanted advice from Davis on how to be a good father and husband.
Annette Davis said the pair grew up quickly because, when their son was born, they had to learn to be selfless. She tells that to the pregnant teens she meets at juvenile hall.
“It’s not about you, it’s about that baby,” she said.
The Davises had other friends who married young but say only a few have celebrated the same longevity in their union.
“I can’t imagine life without him,” she said.
Andre Davis advises teens to find out what marriage is all about. Seek counseling and find successful marriages and learn from them, he said.
“A lot of people go into marriages broken and think the other person will fix them,” Annette Davis said. “You need to (be) whole.”
The couple’s first wedding was a civil ceremony. On their 25th wedding anniversary, they had a church wedding and a reception.
“We put God first and have learned what love truly is, through good times and bad,” Andre Davis wrote in an email to the paper. “Yes, the odds were against us but the Bible says, ‘Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.’ ”
Joe and Sherri Joyce met at Skateland, Fairfield’s roller rink, when they were teens. They got engaged when she was a high school freshman and saved enough money to pay for their wedding on June 12, 1982, one week after she graduated from high school.
“We didn’t rely on anyone,” he said, recalling making monthly payments to a jewelry store for rings. When most of their friends were celebrating their 21st birthdays, Joe and Sherri were buying their first house.
They, too, had friends who got married young and have since divorced.
“I think our marriage survived and is still strong today because we were more than just lovers or just in love,” Joe Joyce wrote in an email to the paper. “We dated for several years before marriage, knew each other and enjoyed each other’s company.”
“We grew up together. We grew in the same direction,” Sherri Joyce said. Marriage, she said, is not a 50-50 proposition, both parties must give 100 percent.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.