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February 13, 2014

Valentines unfaded after 64 years

THOMASVILLE — Sitting across from one another in their room at Plantation Manor— surrounded by pictures from the past— the lovers look at one another in the same manner they’ve looked at each other for the past 64 years.

 When Evelyn Griffin of Thomasville lost her first husband during World War II — leaving her as a single mother — she said she would never marry again. That was until she met “the best thing that ever happened to her.”

Burrell Griffin, a 93-year-old Pavo native, met Evelyn, 87, not long after the death of her first husband when she was just 20.

She was working at the telephone company in Thomasville as an operator — a job that she kept for 36 years. The company offered workers cab fare to get to and from their jobs if they had to work past certain hours.

Burrell was the taxi driver and owned a taxi stand and service center.

He would pick Evelyn up every day before and after work. She would get off work at 11 p.m. so she would have the entire day to spend with her three-year old daughter.

After driving Evelyn every day— Burrell mustered the courage to ask her for a date.

“I guess our first date would have been to The Plaza. I took her out to supper that night,” said Burrell. At the time, The Plaza was located at the present-day Thomasville on Stage & Company building.

He remembered paying a dollar for a steak that night.

After three years of dating, with some encouragement from Evelyn’s daughter —who claimed she was going to call him “Daddy” whether or not she married him — Evelyn agreed to marry Burrell.

Evelyn said, “I’m not exactly sure how he proposed, but I had this little daughter who fell in love with him. I had been through a lot of pain with my first husband being killed in the war and I swore I’d never marry again— but my daughter thought Burrell hung the moon. He was so special to her.”

She joked that her daughter was the deciding factor in giving Burrell a “chance.”

The couple could not afford to have a wedding, but Evelyn was a member of First Baptist Church and her Sunday School class decided to give her a wedding.

She said, “They got together and planned everything, the flowers, and took a picture. The new preacher married us —and he didn’t even know us that well yet. We were the first couple he married in Thomasville.”

The newlyweds went to Jacksonville, Fla., for their honeymoon.

After 64 years of marriage, the couple raised two children of their own, along with the child Evelyn had with her late first husband.

The Griffins still share their love for each other words and deeds.

“He’s been my sweetie for 64 years. I remember him giving me a bouquet of lilies for Valentine’s Day one year. He’s always been romantic. He’s the best thing in the world I’ve ever had,” said Evelyn as she walked over to her husband sitting in his recliner and kissed him on the cheek.

He replied, “I know you do, MeMaw. I love you, too.”

Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.

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