Vows for a lifetime

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 13, 2001

If you have ever wondered how marriages survive amid hard times and disaster, Willie and Eunice Perdue have some answers. On June 13, 1926, the Perdues were married in Evergreen, Ala. They had grown up together, and their love had grown up with them.

Willie, now age 94, says, &uot;I was married to her. I never thought of divorce. Married meant you had to stay, but I never wanted to leave.&uot;

The Perdues had four children, three sons and one daughter. &uot;All our sons served in fighting wars…World War II, Korea and Vietnam,&uot; tells Eunice. &uot;Two boys are gone now, but we still have Carol who lives out from town and DeWayne who lives in Brent, Ala.

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They are both retired now. Carol retired after 40 years at First National Bank here in Greenville.&uot;

Times were not always easy for the Perdues. Willie began working at 14 as a saw filer for W.T. Smith Lumber Company in Chapman. He and Eunice lived in Chapman during the &uot;Hoover Days&uot; along with their two sons. As the economy worsened, the lumber company cut back staff and working hours. Willie worked one or two days a week for a dollar a day for over two years. But the Perdues hung on and survived as a family.

Willie continued with the company until retirement at age 65. He, however, continued to work elsewhere, traveling in Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi plying his trade as a saw filer. He finally retired completely at age 81.

While Willie worked for his family, Eunice ran the home and raised the four children. And she &uot;worked for the Lord every day so others would know about Him,&uot; she explains. &uot;There’s nothing like a good, happy home and being a Christian. It’s the best thing in the world.&uot;

In 1956 the Perdue family suffered a tragedy when Willie’s parents were killed in a motor vehicle accident. The driver of the truck that hit them and the three passengers with him were all intoxicated. Willie was, as Eunice says, &uot; all to pieces&uot;. The morning following the accident, the other driver came to Eunice and Willie’s home to express his regret and sorrow. Eunice says, &uot;Willie talked rough to him. But I prayed to God for compassion. I told that man he should get down on his knees and ask the Lord’s forgiveness. Then he bet-ter change his ways.&uot; Some other members of the Perdue family wanted to take legal action against the driver. But Willie and Eunice decided against it. They chose to forgive the man instead. Both say, &uot;It took love and the love of God for us not to prosecute that man.&uot;

When asked if they would make changes in their life together, Eunice and Willie’s responses were quite similar. Willie says, &uot;Don’t know of anything I’d do different except maybe work more for the Lord. I worked hard for my family all the time but probably not so much for Him. I gave Him my life, but I could have done more of His work.&uot; Eunice adds, &uot;We’ve had happy times and sad times. They’ve all been part of our lives. But we’ve lived together in God’s love.&uot;

The Perdues still live independently in their home on Hickory Street. Willie still drives and is proud of his 80 years of driving without mishap. &uot;I’ve never had a wreck, never got a ticket, and never been in a fight.&uot;

Eunice notes that the Greenville Advocate has been an important part of their life. As she says, &uot;When that paper comes, it’s time for a big rocking chair on the porch. I want all of us to be brave, faithful and true to our Advocate.&uot;

In 1974 Eunice wrote a poem honoring the Women’s Missionary Union of her church. She had seriously broken her hand and been told by her doctor that she probably would not have use of the hand any more. While sleeping one night shortly after the injury, she heard , &uot; …the Lord speaking to me. I knew it was His voice because He talked to me many times before. He told me to write this poem and I reminded Him that my hand did not work. He told me He would help me.&uot; Eunice tells that she got out of bed, wrote the poem and returned to bed. &uot;The next day my hand worked like nothing had ever happened to it. And it’s felt fine since,&uot; she continues.

As Willie says, &uot;These stories could go on and on.&uot; Perhaps they should. It’s nice to get such wonderful life lessons these days.