Family Council to Honor Arkansas’ Longest Married Couples

Thursday, February 14, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, AR – For 79 years of marriage, Family Council will honor, Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside of White Hall, AR as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple. The Whitesides, along with the Top Ten Longest Married Couples, will be celebrated at a special dessert reception at the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion with hosts Governor Asa Hutchinson and First Lady Susan Hutchinson. This is Family Council’s second year celebrating Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple. “We are excited to continue this annual tradition of celebrating marriage and finding Arkansas’ Longest Married Couples, and we are grateful to the Governor and First Lady for helping us make this special occasion possible,” Jerry Cox, President of Family Council said. “The Whitesides symbolize the good of Arkansas, a state that has always valued marriage, family, and God. The Whitesides, along with the Top Ten Longest Married Couples, will receive a Special Letter of Recognition from Governor Hutchinson, and the Whitesides’ family and friends will be present to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside, respectively 97 and 93 years old, met at church in Clarendon, Arkansas, when he was 13 and she was 9. The story begins when Arwilda and her friend Caroline were walking home from school and some boys began to chase them. Caroline told Arwilda to run to Cleovis, because he would protect them. He did, and he made the boys leave Arwilda and Caroline alone. Several years later while attending a church box supper, Cleovis bought Arwilda’s box supper that she had prepared for a quarter, and Caroline then commented that “one day Cleovis will be your husband.” And so on July 24, 1939, Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside were married. It rained so hard on that day that only his parents, her family, his best friend Detroit, and the minister, who trudged through the rain with his horse and buggy, were able to attend. The minister arrived at 11:00 PM to finally marry them at 11:30 PM. The Whitesides have kept their marriage covenant ever since.

“Congratulations to Arkansas’ Top Ten Longest Married Couples and a special salute to Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside on their amazing 79 year journey,” Ken Yang, Director of Governmental Affairs of Family Council and the event’s coordinator said. Family Council is honored to have the opportunity to celebrate couples who exemplify devotion to God and their marriage covenant. Along with the Whitesides, the Top Ten Longest Married Couples will be honored at a special reception at the Governor’s Mansion Friday, March 1st. These are Arkansas’ Top Ten Longest Married Couples:

  • Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside of White Hall – 79 years, married July 24, 1939
  • Cecil and Lois Robertson of Heber Springs – 79 years, married September 8, 1939
  • Gussie and James Stephenson of North Little Rock – 79 years, married December 25, 1939
  • Thell and Margie Ellison of Natural Dam – 77 years, married June 24, 1941
  • Bill and Freda McClain of Little Rock – 76 years, married June 20, 1942
  • Grady and Wilma Adcock of Hot Springs – 76 years, married July 3, 1942
  • JC and Avanelle Merritt of Greenbrier – 76 years, married July 6, 1942
  • Cliff and Louis Ganus of Searcy – 75 years, married May 27, 1943
  • Doug and Kathleen Freeman of Sherwood – 74 years, married December 16, 1944
  • Earl and Ina Disheroon of Harrison – 73 years, married May 1, 1945

Stories and pictures of Arkansas’ Longest Married Couples of 2019 will be released on our website the week of the reception.


WANTED: Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple

Monday, November 19, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, AR – For the second year, Arkansas Family Council is accepting nominations for Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple.

Last year’s celebration was a lovely reception hosted by Family Council and Governor Asa Hutchinson and First Lady Susan Hutchinson at the Governor’s Mansion. The top 10 longest married couples were honored with an official letter of recognition from the governor’s office and were entered in the Family Council Arkansas Marriage Hall of Fame. When this year’s search ends in early February 2019, Family Council will again honor the longest married couples and their families

“Sharing these couples’ lifetime stories of commitment and faithfulness to each other encourages the next generation that ‘married happily ever after’ still exists. We are blessed and honored to be able to share these stories of forever love,” Jerry Cox, President of Family Council, said. “In today’s society we are surrounded by naysayers of marriage but the married couples we find will prove them all wrong and show that marriage can last a lifetime.”

“Marriage is a sacred covenant between a man and a woman,” Cox said. “It is not every day that you meet a couple married over 70 years, and when you do, there is truly something special about that relationship.”

Entries for couples married over 70 years can be submitted before February 1, 2019, by sending contact information for both yourself, the candidates for consideration, and marriage date to

For more information, please call the Family Council office at 501-375-7000.