Couple honored by Hall of Fame after 65 years of marriage

Published 10:53 pm Friday, August 2, 2013

On Sunday, George and Veleta Waltman will be honored for 65 years of marriage at the 2013 Alabama Senior Citizens Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony Sunday at First Baptist Church in Montgomery.

“I never doubted that our marriage would last. I just didn’t know how long,” Veleta Waltman said, with a smile. “And, if we make it until August 23, we’ll have been married 66 years.

“I know, that God had a hand in our marriage. He still does.”

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George Waltman grew up in Vancleave, Miss., and Veleta grew up in the Hale’s Chapel-Good Hope community. He had admirers and she had suitors and the likelihood of the two of them ever meeting was, well, unlikely.

However, Uncle Sam called George into service and “God placed him” on the USS Taylor with Veleta’s first cousin.

Veleta and her cousin exchanged letters often and George happened to see a picture of her in one of the letters she sent.

“I asked who that pretty girl was and that was the beginning,” George said. “We wrote each other and exchanged pictures. I thought she was the one for me.”

Back home in Alabama, Veleta was thinking that George was the one for her.

“In his pictures, he stood so straight and tall and looked so handsome and strong,” she said. “I fell in love with him even though I had never met him.”

Way out in the South Pacific, George was secretly in love with her.

The two wrote letters for two years before George was finally coming home.

On the home front, Veleta waited excitedly for George’s homecoming.

“George got home to Mississippi and I got a letter saying that he was having severe headaches and would come later,” she said. “But I didn’t hear from him again. I waited and waited. I was puzzled and brokenhearted.”

A year later, the letter that Veleta had been waiting and hoping for finally came. George was coming to Alabama.

George Waltman can’t explain, even today, what took him so long.

“I didn’t have a car and all the road were dirt … and I had to get things in order,” he said. “But I knew I loved her.” He added laughing that he must have been a “bad boy.”

When they finally met at the bus station in Troy, they “kind of hugged” each other.

“He was as handsome as I thought he was,” she said.

“She was as pretty as a picture,” he said. “Three months later, we got married.”

The young couple said their vows in the front room of the house where she grew up. It’s the same house where they live today.

Then, they went back to Mississippi where George worked for a short time. Then, he asked his bride if she was ready to go home. She was.

He worked for the Montgomery Dairy Association and then for Sears until he retired. Veleta did some clerical work and cared for four children.

Today, they spend their days together, mainly at the home they love. Their main “outing” is going to the Troy Nutrition Center where Veleta is the choir director. She loves to sing and George is a “right good” singer himself.

George and Veleta said the secret to a long, happy marriage is commitment.

“You’re going to have your ups and downs. That’s normal,” George said. “But, for a marriage to last, you have to trust each other and love each other unconditionally. And give, give and take.”

Veleta said that she loves her husband more today than she did 65 years ago and she will love him even more tomorrow.

George said it’s possible to love in that way when a person is a part of you.

“Veleta is a part of me. When she’s away from me, I can hardly wait for her to be close again,” he said.

That’s the way it is when love has matured for 65 years.

“And, that’s the best kind of love,” the honored couple said.