Lasting Love

Verlon and Rosa Parrish have been married over 67 years.

Sept. 9, 1951. That was the day Verlon and Rosa Parrish met. That was the day a 67-year relationship began. That was the first day of forever.

“It’s odd, how we met,” said Verlon.

Verlon and Rosa grew up in Jackson County. A truck was coming from Missouri to pick up people to go pick cotton. Verlon’s father came in the day before, mentioned the truck and asked Verlon and his brother if they wanted to go. Rosa’s cousins were moving to Missouri on that same truck, and Rosa was going with them. Verlon and Rosa got on the truck together. Verlon said they spent the trip to Missouri on the back of that truck with each other.

“By the time we got to Missouri,” said Verlon, “we were acquainted pretty well.”

When they got to Missouri, they started picking cotton together, splitting rows between each other. After a couple of months, her parents moved out to the Show-Me State. They ended up working for different people, but every night, Verlon would walk down to her house to go see her. Verlon would walk through pouring rain, bitter cold, or blazing heat to see Rosa.

They had been seeing each other for five months when he asked Rosa to marry him. They went to see a movie on Saturday Jan. 19, 1952. In the middle of the movie, Verlon proposed.

She said,” Okay, we’ll get married next Saturday.”

Verlon was surprised by how fast she wanted to tie the knot.

“She didn’t believe in no long engagement,” Verlon said with a laugh.

“Well if I was going to get married,” said Rosa, “I was going to get married.”

Verlon and Rosa Parrish got married on Jan. 26, 1952 in Piggott, Arkansas. At that time in Missouri, people had to take a blood test, buy a marriage license and wait a certain amount of time before they could be married. Arkansas did not have any of those rules, and Verlon and Rosa did not want to wait. They went to the courthouse in Piggott, just across the state line, bought a marriage license and waited two hours in line to get married.

“The office was full and people were lined up and down the hallways of the courthouse,” said Verlon.

The probate judge eventually married them in the vault of the courthouse.

“Now we’ve had 67 Valentines together,” said Verlon.

They lived on the farm in Missouri until 1956. In October 1956, they moved to Hammond, Indiana, located about 30 miles from Chicago. Verlon worked in a factory there for 27 years. He said their fondest memories were taking their four kids to Chicago to the Museum of Science and Industry, to see the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and spending time on the shores of Lake Michigan.

They moved to Sand Mountain in 1983, after Verlon retired from the factory in Indiana.

The last 67 years have been good to them, he said, adding one reason they have stayed together this long is because they stayed in church for the last 50 plus years. They both said that love is the main reason they have been together nearly 70 years. Verlon joked that it was getting difficult trying to find Valentine’s Day cards that say 67 years on them.

Now, Rosa lives at Highlands Health and Rehab, and suffers from severe dementia. Verlon comes to visit her everyday, typically multiple times per day.

“He’s one of the most devoted husbands I have ever seen,” said Highlands Health and Rehab administrator Manda Mountain.

Despite some cognitive difficulties, Rosa knows him. When Verlon walks into the room, Rosa feels secure.

“You can tell they’ve had a really wonderful, loving life together,” said Mountain. “I think they’re the perfect example of what love really is. No matter what difficulties one or both encounter in life, if you really love someone, you’re in it until the end.”

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