Talking with Mr. Tebe and Mrs. June

Published 8:32 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

She straightened the collar on his coat with a protective love that I noticed immediately.

She was proud of her husband, and she wanted him to look his best, and she helped him do that with a patience and a fierce loyalty that can only come after 66 years of marriage.

I had no idea that I was going to meet two very special people last Saturday morning—two people who quickly found a place in my heart.

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Mr. W. M. “Tebe” Sasser and his wife, Mrs. June Lowman Sasser, were among the special guests at Cost King’s ribbon cutting ceremony in Dozier. Mr. Tebe got to hold the “big” scissors and cut the ribbon. I was introduced to them and was quickly informed that Mr. Tebe was a World War II veteran. That always strikes a strong chord in my heart since my father was also a World War II veteran.

I told Mr. Tebe about my dad.

“There aren’t many of us left,” he said, quietly.

Mr. Tebe served in the Army Artillery 81st Wildcat Division from June 1942 to Nov. 1945. He was in the South Pacific the entire time.

“I was on my way to Japan when the war ended,” he said.

He got quiet, looked at me, looked back at Mrs. June, and spoke again.

“A lot of my friends got shot—we were in a bad, bad place.”

The lump in my throat in no way matched his memories.

“A lot of them didn’t get to come home,” he said.

“It’s hard to talk about,” Mrs. June said, patting her husband’s shoulder, watching him closely.

Sixty-six years together.

Both Mr. Tebe and Mrs. June graduated from Dozier High School—he in 1939 and she in 1943. They’ve lived in Dozier their entire lives and love the small town.

They married on June 16, 1942, but World War II kept them apart the first three years of their marriage. There again was that quiet strength, that fierce loyalty that I find sadly lacking in my generation and in younger generations.

From their union came two daughters, Priscilla Kimbro of Dozier, and Sherry (Harvey) Watt of Enterprise. They have four grandchildren and one great-grandchild: Jeff (Kim) Kimbro, Kristie Watt, Wendi Watt, the late Ben Kimbro, and great-granddaughter Chelsea Kimbro.

“We thought we were rich when the grandchildren came along,” Mrs. June said with her pretty smile.

Mr. Tebe was a rural letter carrier most of his life in the Dozier Post Office.

“I enjoyed that,” he told me. “We had good people, and that’s the truth.”

Mrs. June said that Dozier had 16 or more stores in the area in the late 1940s, so they were glad to see Cost King open its doors.

“We love this little town,” she said.

Danny Davis, the manager of Cost King, had given Mr. Tebe a Cost King cap to wear for the ribbon cutting and Grand Opening.

“I don’t usually wear a hat,” Mr. Tebe said, rubbing his head. Mrs. June laughed.

“It might mess up my hair.”

He looked at me and smiled.