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Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside of Whitehall, Arkansas, have been recognized as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple. Married 84 years, they met at church and were married on July 24, 1939, in Clarendon, Arkansas.
Cleovis, age 102, was 17, and Arwilda, age 98, was 13 when they married.
Family Council, a pro-family organization located in Little Rock, recognizes Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple each year. The Whitesides have been recognized as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple since 2019.
Family Council Executive Director Jerry Cox said, “Mr. & Mrs. Whiteside are a shining example to us all. They made a marriage covenant with one another over 84 years ago, and, by the grace of God, they kept it. Based on information we’ve gathered, we believe Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside actually could be the longest married couple living in the entire United States. That’s something to celebrate!”
Their story began when Arwilda and her friend Caroline were walking home from school and some boys began to chase them. Caroline told Arwilda to run to Cleovis, because he would protect them. He did, and he made the boys leave Arwilda and Caroline alone.
Years later, while attending a church box supper, Cleovis bought Arwilda’s box supper for twenty-five cents that she had prepared for the event. Caroline then commented, “One day Cleovis will be your husband.”
And so, on July 24, 1939, Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside were married. It rained so hard on that day that only his parents, her family, his best friend, Detroit, and the minister who trudged through the rain with his horse and buggy, were able to attend. The minister arrived at 11:00 pm that night to finally marry them at 11:30 pm just before midnight. The Whitesides have kept their marriage covenant ever since.
The couple will be honored in a celebration at their daughter’s church, International House of Praise Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, on September 24 at 4:00 P.M. A private fish fry reception sponsored by Family Council for family and friends will immediately follow the program.
For more information, please contact Charisse Dean at [email protected] or 501-375-7000. Anyone who is interested in adding a couple to Family Council’s Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple registry should contact Family Council in Little Rock.