They said this marriage would never last.
A Gibson couple, married 75 years ago today, whose lives have been a force in the town’s faith and secular communities, will be honored Sunday during the 11 a.m. worship service at Gibson United Methodist Church and during a luncheon to follow.
G.C. Odom Jr., 94, and Sadie Lytch Odom, 92, are the honorees.
The idea for the Sunday celebration, including friends in the congregation and friends from the larger community, came from their three children, daughter Jean Hope Yates and sons Doug and Buck.
The worship service will follow the usual order, said the Rev. Pat Stone Butson, who with her husband, John, are co-pastors at the church. However, the Rev. Dr. Bill Quick, a former pastor of the church who grew up in the area, will preach. His wife, Mary, will play the piano for the service.
Dr. Quick, who retired from ministry in the United Methodist Church in 1998, was pastor in Gibson for a year, but pastor of Metropolitan United Methodist in Detroit for 25 years. He and his wife have homes in both Detroit and Durham, where for the past 16 years he has taught in the winter-spring semester at Duke Divinity School.
“I have known Bill for a long time and he is a cousin of my husband,” said Sadie, who this week spent time sharing stories from the couple’s eventful life.
They attended Gibson schools together for 11 years, graduating on May 17, 1940. Only a month later the pair, she 17 and he 19, were married in Darlington, South Carolina, at the home of the Justice of the Peace in a nighttime ceremony with his wife as the witness. They planned to keep the marriage a secret until both completed their education.
“Things were different in those days,” Sadie said. “A school would not allow students to attend if they were married.”
It seems that G.C. was not exactly prepared to support a wife, however. He had to borrow the $3 for the marriage license from his sister. And yet another challenge cropped up the first night of their marriage — what to do with the marriage certificate.
“Neither of us wanted to keep it, but I finally did and hid it behind the picture of my grandmother for safe keeping,” Sadie said.
The bride attended Greensboro College and the bridegroom enrolled at Coyne Electrical School in Chicago. But Sadie’s mother discovered their secret at Thanksgiving when she saw a letter from G.C. signed “Your loving husband.”
G.C.’s career included working at Fort Bragg for a year and then a job with the railroad in Hamlet. He also farmed with his father for a few years and retired from the railroad in 1987 after 46 years of service.
It was Sadie who stayed right here in Gibson and served the town as postmaster for 28 years, plus three years as postal clerk. She retired in 1988 after 31 years in the post office.
In 1979, she chose to follow advice from her brother, the late Sheriff B.P. Lytch of Scotland County, who told her she should get into politics and run for town mayor.
This spunky lady was 56 at the time and entered the political arena with ‘nary a reservation and served undefeated in the post for 22 years. During the years when she was both postmaster and mayor, Sadie said it worked out fine.
“Folks would come in to get their mail and stay around to talk about town business, or a problem they were having,” she said.
Sadie retired from politics in 2005 when she was 82.
G.C. and Sadie continue to live in the Main Street house they built in 1959 where they raised their three children.
“We were blessed,” she said, and the extended family now includes six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.
“We both think our 75 years have been very good. We’ve had a few hard knocks, but love, faith and Christian beliefs have kept us together.
“My philosophy is that ‘with God, all things are possible.’”
Contact Flo Johnston at [email protected] or call 910-361-4135.