Gastonia couple shares secret of long marriage on Valentine’s Day

For some, love is all about candy and flowers and fancy dinners.

For others, love means Caribbean cruises and frequent trips to exotic locales.

Other folks, however, keep it simple.

Love is about trust. Love is about companionship. Love is about giving each other space to breathe.

And don’t tell Jean and Glenn Sawyer the simple way doesn’t work.

On Monday, Feb. 7, the Gastonia couple marked their 70th wedding anniversary, however; there was no party, no cake, no fuss.

And do not expect them to be at a restaurant or exchanging cards during Valentine’s Day either.

Instead, the Sawyers will enjoy each other’s company while playing with their 6-year-old grandson and awaiting the arrival of their first great-grandchild.

“We may have given each other a card or flowers once or twice but we have never been material people,” said Glenn Sawyer, 91.

Jean and Glenn Sawyer married on Feb. 7, 1952. They share their secret for a 70-year marriage on Valentine's Day.

Finding love

The Sawyers met in 1951, and believe fate helped bring them together.

“I am from Graham County and Jean is originally from Gastonia. I moved to Gastonia in 1951 when I took my aunt to see her husband. Then I ended up staying,” said Glenn Sawyer. “We met through our relatives, I was attracted to her beauty. A year later we married at the Justice of the Peace in York County.”

“As an only child, I always felt lonely. Glenn has three sisters and two brothers, so it was a big family and that intrigued me about him. When we got married, they became my family,” Jean Sawyer, 91, said.

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The Sawyers married in 1952, three days before Glenn Sawyer’s 21st birthday. His wife Jean, who graduated from Ashley High School a year prior, was 18.

They spent their first few years of marriage humbly, Glenn Sawyer working for the city of Gastonia in the water department and his wife working for WIX Filters, a company in Gastonia that sells automobile filtration products.

“We made very little money and lived in a trailer. We did not move to our house until 1962 because I needed to take care of my parents and I wanted them to live with us. There we had our son, Kevin, who is now 54 years old,” Jean Sawyer said.

Together despite the distance

Glenn Sawyer would work 20 years for Gastonia and 30 years for Standard Distributors. In 2013, he started working for Keith Hawthorne Ford.

“I pick up cars from different auctions around the country,” said Glenn Sawyer, who continues to work for the dealership.

Glenn Sawyer’s job required him to travel a couple of days a month.

“Jean would always worry about me driving to these places because I was getting old and I am not able to drive the way I used to when I was younger. I never got more than a flat tire while on the road. I can say that Jean kept me going,” said Glenn Sawyer.

“I would pray for him a lot just to make sure he was safe and he always came back safely,” said Jean Sawyer.

No secret to long marriage

Though many couples would say, flowers, leaving behind little love notes in each others’ car or a good homecooked meal is the secret to a long marriage, the Sawyers beg to differ.

“We are very respectful of each other. We are old, we don’t need anything but each other’s company,” said Jean Sawyer, “Glenn has never been much of a romantic, but I think the space we have given each other to live our lives and hearing what we want has been enough for a good marriage.”

The Sawyers simple lifestyle provided the couple with a stress-free marriage that they are now able to look back on several years later, well, that and being debt-free.

“Our house is paid for, our cars are paid for and we thank God for everything he has blessed us with,” Glenn Sawyer said.

Beatriz Guerrero can be reached at 704-869-1828 or on Twitter@BeatrizGue_.