Above: Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside attended Family Council’s 2018 Longest-Married Couple reception at the Governor’s Mansion in Little Rock.

LITTLE ROCK, AR – Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside of Whitehall, Arkansas have been recognized as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple. Married 82 years, they met at church and were married on July 24, 1939, in Clarendon, Arkansas. Cleovis, age 100, was 17, and Arwilda, age 96, was 13 when they married.

Family Council, a pro-family organization located in Little Rock, recognizes Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple each year. This marks the second time the Whitesides have been recognized as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple. Family Council Executive Director Jerry Cox said, “Mr. & Mrs. Whiteside are a shining example to us all. They made a marriage covenant with one another almost 83 years ago, and, by the grace of God, they kept it.”

Their 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. Years later, while attending a church box supper, Cleovis bought Arwilda’s box supper for twenty-five cents that she had prepared for the event. 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 that night to finally marry them at 11:30 just before midnight. The Whitesides have kept their marriage covenant ever since.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson recognized the couple’s milestone with a special letter. The couple will be honored in a ceremony at their church in White Hall, Arkansas, on April 24 where they will receive the Governor’s framed letter, an engraved silver platter, a Bible, flowers, and other gifts.

In addition to the Whitesides, Family Council released the names of Arkansas’ remaining top ten longest married couples.

  • Thell and Margie Ellison of Natural Dam
  • Everett and Ina Dell Wilson of Mabelvale
  • Wesley and Bernice Robertson of Camden
  • Charles and Ivalee Whedbee of Dayton
  • Allein and Jean Beall of Little Rock
  • George & Mary Catherine Martin of North Little Rock
  • Orin Ray & Imma Jean Robinson of Sherwood
  • Cecil and Eleanor Simonton of Rogers
  • Frank & Mary Lou Osbourne of Searcy

Anyone interested in adding a couple to Family Council’s Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple registry should contact Family Council in Little Rock.