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Enduring Love: Couple celebrates 60 years with vow renewal

The Johnsons cut their wedding cake, made with care by their good friend Wanda Davis.

The Johnsons cut their wedding cake, made with care by their good friend Wanda Davis.

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:Margaret and Richard Johnson walk down the aisle after renewing their vows at Apostolic Community Church on Saturday. Pictured in back are bridesmaids Brenda Bunn and Shirley Boozer, Pastor Robert L. Nash and best man Robert Johnson. - Staff Photos: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

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COVINGTON — Margaret and Richard Johnson first met at a Rockdale County church as teenagers, when she was just 13 and he 15. Richard’s father evidently saw a spark between the two, as he jokingly “married” them in the church yard. He asked them, “Do you promise to stick together through thick and thin like molasses on a newborn baby’s chin?”

“And that’s what’s brought us through. We stuck together,” said Margaret Johnson, reflecting on the couple’s six decades of marriage.

The Johnsons celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on Christmas Eve and renewed their vows Saturday at Apostolic Community Church near Porterdale. It was a traditional ceremony organized by their friends Ted and Wanda Davis, who set about planning a month ago after learning that the Johnsons were both the oldest living couple and the longest-married couple in the church.

The bride, dressed in a white two-piece suit, said she was more nervous the second time around. Their first ceremony was a mostly private affair, at a minister’s home with two witnesses. “I lacked a week being 17 and he was 19. We were children,” she said.

This time, they wed before about 75 family members and friends. Their nieces Brenda Bunn and Shirley Boozer served as bridesmaids, and Richard’s brother Robert was his best man.

While the Johnsons knew they would be renewing their vows, they didn’t realize the pains their friends had taken to organize the wedding and reception. Margaret Johnson said she was shocked when she arrived at the church.

They married under a white canopy with blue trim and celebrated later with a wedding cake made by Wanda Davis and blueberry punch, in recognition of the blue suit Margaret Johnson wore at her first wedding ceremony.

The two set a fine example for their friends, according to Ted Davis, who walked the bride down the aisle.

“You wouldn’t want anybody to be any nicer to one another or anybody else,” he said. “Their disposition is second to none. Like couples are supposed to do ... they talk about things before doing anything.”

The secret to their success is as simple as “just loving one another, being together, respecting one another,” Margaret Johnson said.

“You have to take as well as give and just endure the bad with the good and go on,” she said. “There are a lot of rough roads along the way, but if you’ll just stay together and stick together, you’ll overcome.”

That’s a philosophy that many couples don’t seem to live by now, Johnson said, noting that couples often separate and find someone else when rough times hit.

“They trade ’em in like cows or something,” she said.

The Johnsons have lived in Newton County for most of their marriage. Richard Johnson, now retired, worked in refrigeration and plumbing, while Margaret took care of the home. The couple still enjoys fishing and camping and, “Most of all, we love going to church,” she said.

After 60 years together, it’s clear the Johnsons are a package deal, and Margaret wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Anywhere you see one, you see the other,” she said.