Finley

I can almost hear John Henderson singing Clint Black’s touching love song, “When I Said I Do,” to his (John’s, not Clint’s) beautiful wife Charlotte.

Let me sing the chorus for you.

“When I said I do, I meant that I will ‘til the end of all time/Be faithful and true, devoted to you/That’s what I had in mind when I said I do.”

Perfect!

See, John, 107, and Charlotte, a much younger 105, celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary last month.

This accomplishment almost leaves you speechless. EIGHTY YEARS!

And counting.

Last summer, Guinness World Records, which keeps up with such things, named the Hendersons the “oldest married couple” for their aggregate age of 212 years. I’m not sure exactly what that means. I wonder if there is a couple who has been married longer with, say, an aggregate age of 216 years? Or 211 years?

I broach this extraordinary subject today because the Hendersons’ world record accomplishment is the feature story in the January edition of Alcalde, an official UTexas publication. The reason is, John and Charlotte met while students at UT, where John was a stud football player for the Longhorns and is the oldest living Longhorn letterman.

Being somewhat prejudice (OK, a lot prejudice), I’m happy to report that The Baytown Sun scooped Alcalde (what does Alcalde mean?) when it featured John and Charlotte’s record-setting romance back in November in a story written by Lynnette Haaland, with contributions coming from precise reporter Matt Hollis. Yea, Baytown Sun!

I got notice of the Alcalde story from Artie Ripkowski, who pulls for the Longhorns and is friends with John and Charlotte.

Still, an 80th wedding anniversary is hard to wrap one’s mind around, even a mind as sharp as mine. EIGHTY YEARS!

(NON-EDITOR’S NOTE: How do you “wrap your mind” around anything? What does that mean, exactly?)

For instance, I know this guy who is 81 years old, who I shall not identify. That’s a long time, if I remember my high school arithmetic lessons.

So this distinguished gentleman was just a ONE-YEAR-OLD when John and Charlotte tied the knot, as it is called in dignified institutions of higher learning such as Yale.

From a personal standpoint – you’re thinking I’m the 81-year-old, aren’t you? – Wife Margie and I have been married 59 years. We’d have to remain a Marital Unit another 21 YEARS to match John and Charlotte. I’m not sure we’ll make it.

Or, if you are into numbers as I am, do the reverse. When the Hendersons had been married 59 years, like Wife Margie and me, John was already 86 and Charlotte was 84. That’s mind-boggling.

Stealing information from both The Sun and Alcalde, I learned John first laid eyes on Charlotte in 1934 in a zoology class of all places. They’ve been a team, a Longhorn team, ever since.

It would be five more years before they married on Dec. 22, 1939. And now it’s 80 years later. Take a bow, Hendersons!

Baytown was blessed for many years because John, who was a lineman for the Longhorns and has met every UTexas head football coach since, took a job at what was then Humble Oil & Refining Co., or as we often call it nowadays, ExxonMobil, and Charlotte was a school teacher.

It was Baytown’s loss when they moved to Longhorn Village in Austin. But it was fitting, you know, that they returned to their Burnt Orange and White roots.

So, Discerning Readers, if this isn’t a Love Story for all time, I don’t know what is.

I’m proud to say I’ve known John and Charlotte for 50 years. We met when John was a star member of the Kiwanis Club of Baytown, where for years he served as the organization’s treasurer.

I really like the Hendersons. I can’t say for certain if John feels the same way about me, but Charlotte does. I think.

At any rate, Happy Anniversary, John and Charlotte. Keep on keeping on, like true Longhorns.

“When I said I do …”

 

Jim Finley is a retired managing editor of The Sun. He can be reached at viewpoints@baytownsun.com, Attention: Jim Finley.

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