FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.