By MICAH HENRY
Miller and Ruth Walker, of Taylorsville, have just achieved a milestone that few married couples reach: their seventy-fifth anniversary. Miller, 95, and Ruth, 93, celebrated in grand style with loads of family and friends on October 28 at Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.
The couple met when Miller was working with Ruth’s brother-in-law at Seminole Mill (Burlington) in Statesville.
“He said, ‘I have a sister-in-law in Stony Point you have to meet,’” Miller recalled.
Miller had seen Ruth earlier, at a gas station on Front Street in Statesville. She was in a car and didn’t see him. “I knew then that I wanted her,” he said.
Ruth was staying with her other sister in Statesville for the summer and working at a cleaners shop.
“My brother-in-law and my sister came up there to Mom’s and I came up with my other sister and met him then,” Ruth said, about meeting her future husband.
“I didn’t think about marriage much right then, but I thought he was handsome,” Ruth recalled.
Soon after, Miller came down with a kidney infection and was hospitalized.
“When I got out, I went straight to her house,” he remembered.
They dated four or five months before getting married at the home of Rev. Jeff Ballenger, pastor of Rocky Face Baptist Church, on October 30, 1948. Ruth had turned 18 that August and Miller had turned 20 in September.
Ruth, the daughter of Dolz and Ona Belle Walker, came from a big family — eight boys and eight girls. Four of her brothers were in the Armed Forces at the same time.
Miller is the son of Tom and Maude Lackey. During 1951 and 1952, Tom built the house where Miller and Ruth raised their family and still live. They have daughters Kim Stine, of Taylorsville, and Diane Chapman, of Stony Point, and son Steve Walker, of Taylorsville.
Ruth became a homemaker for several years after their marriage. She later worked at Lewittes Furniture during school months. Later, she worked at Pierpoint until it closed. Ruth worked at Royale Comfort Seating until age 73, when she retired.
Miller worked at a local sawmill for several years. He also worked at Schneider Mills for 28 years, and was Plant Manager the last seven years.
The Schneiders built a new mill during that time in South Carolina and asked Miller to manage it. The family had to move to South Carolina — but they decided to come back a short time later. Miller resumed his previous post at the Taylorsville plant.
“They were hard workers,” said daughter Kim. “Daddy always grew a garden and Momma would can. Getting home from school, we always had a good supper. Sometimes, Daddy would surprise me with a Rainbow Diner hamburger or make pancakes.”
In 1970, Miller had his first open heart surgery. In 1973, he had to quit work due to heart trouble. He had his most recent open heart surgery in 1995 and has been blessed to be around his family all these years.
At the couple’s fiftieth anniversary celebration, they observed festivities at Carson Chapel Church with a big crowd.
Today, the Walkers have seven grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Miller said he and Ruth always enjoyed being parents and grandparents.
“We’re blessed,” Ruth said of their long marriage.
She still likes to cook every Sunday and have the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren come over to their house for a meal. Friends often come, too, meaning there’s often 20 to 50 people.
Ruth’s country style steak and gravy is quite the popular dish, the family concedes.
What’s their advice for a long, loving marriage?
“Living for the Lord,” Miller said. “There have been a lot of ups and downs, of course, but we still love each other. The Lord’s been good to us. Still is. He’s the one that watches out for us.”
“I never thought about divorce, but murder, yeah,” Ruth joked. “Not really! But be sure you know what you’re doing when you say ‘I do,’ and mean it.”