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WAYNE AND RENA PHILLIPS - SIXTY YEARS TOGETHER
By Marshall McClung
Wayne and Rena Phillips celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary Saturday, June 17. They were married by the Reverend Alfred Adams in his home on Ground Squirrel Branch on June 17, 1935. At the time of their marriage, Rena was 14 and Wayne was 21. It was not unusual for girls to marry at an early age in those days with some marrying as early as age 12.
Wayne and Rena had known each other all of their lives as they lived a short distance apart part of the time. Wayne's parents died when he was still young and he lived several different places as he was growing up.
Wayne and Rena had decided they would get married the next time it rained. You have to understand that folks made their living farming in those days and you simply did not miss working the crops if it could be helped. Wayne was cradling rye and Rena was hoeing corn when it began to rain. Wayne had gone to the house and was sitting on the porch when he saw Rena, her twin sister Lena, and Faye Phillips (Hooper) coming along the road. Wayne said "I knew it was coming down to it, and I had better get cleaned up." Dillard Phillips took them to be married.
After the marriage, they stayed with her sister Laura and her husband Patton Phillips for a few months. Later they moved to Wayne's home on East Buffalo where they lived for the next three years or so. Rena's father died, and they went to live with Rena's mother for the next nine years also on East Buffalo. They then bought property on Atoah Creek from Troy Hyde and had Brutus and Pearlie Hice build them a house. They moved into the house March 17, 1948 and are still living in the same house at present. Their neighbors were Hobart and Fannie Eller, Clyde and Edrie Mcclung, and Charles and Neena Riddle.
They have four children; Eloise Jenkins, Gerald Philips and Twalla Stiles of Robbinsville, and Priscilla Cope of Andrews, eight grandchildren, and eight great-great grandchildren.
After the children were all in school, Rena started to work in her sister Laura's store. Wayne worked at several different jobs down through the years including painting the pipeline for Alcoa, logging and right-of-way clearing jobs. Wayne also helped in the construction of Fontana Dam where he was employed as a carpenter's helper. Wayne worked with Claude Adams, Huel Patterson, and Weldon Allen building temporary housing for the construction workers building Fontana Dam. Wayne worked the last twenty-one years at Lee's Carpet mill in Robbinsville as a backsizer machine operator and carpet inspector. The mill was in the building currently occupied by Stanley Furniture. Wayne retired at age sixty-five. In addition to their public jobs, Wayne and Rena grew tobacco, and corn, and raised cattle.
Rena said they always put their trust in the Lord to see them through. She said her desire was to see all her children saved and become active workers in the church which is the case. Rena started teaching a Sunday School class at Lone Oak Baptist Church when she was eighteen and has been teaching ever since.
Rena said she became convicted by the Lord to start having prayer with her children and reading the Bible to them when her first children were still quite small. She fought this at first for several months thinking she just couldn't do it, she just couldn't bring herself to start. But she tried it, and it became a part of their life. She recalls seeing her first child, Eloise, kneeling and praying about the house when was only a little over two years old.
Wayne went for over forty years without missing a Sunday going to church and Rena only missed a few times when there was sickness in the family.
To celebrate their sixtieth wedding anniversary, the family took Wayne and Rena out to eat. All of the children and their families, all of the grandchildren and their families, and all the great-great grandchildren were present, a total of twenty-eight persons in all. This is a fitting tribute to a couple who have reached a great landmark in their life.
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