By Ralphine Major

The two young people in the picture did not look familiar.  Their smiles spoke volumes, foretelling a lifetime together filled with hopes and dreams.  Sixty years later, that young couple is still smiling and celebrating all those years.  Now, I know the couple in the picture.

On Sunday, June 22, 2014, Blanche and Riley Wheeler joined family and friends at Clapps Chapel United Methodist Church for a joyful celebration of their 60 years of marriage!  Riley Wheeler of Kentucky and the former Blanche Waller of Tennessee were married June 24, 1954.  She is a homemaker, and he is retired from the United States Army and the State of Tennessee.  The Corryton homemaker and the veteran of two wars are parents to six children:  Barbara Tipton, David Wheeler, William (Buddy) Wheeler, Tim Wheeler, Tamara Ownby, and Carol Beason.  They have eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

An added attraction to the day was the display of Blanche’s beautiful wedding dress and Riley’s United States Army uniform.  Focus readers may remember reading about Riley who was featured in my Veteran’s Day column, “Serving God, Country, and Fellow Man,” on 11-12-12.  Daughter Tamara was married in her mother’s wedding dress 20 years ago.  A video of family memories played as guests visited  and enjoyed delicious cake by Carol Flannary; a wonderful assortment of fruits, nuts, and cheese; and a cool and tasty pineapple punch to beat the afternoon heat.

As a surprise to Blanche and Riley, guests were asked to write their favorite Wheeler story to give the couple.  A basket full of stories awaited them.  My Wheeler story is no surprise, and it bears repeating for it shows the kindness of strangers before they were neighbors.  Here is the story my family put in the basket.

The Wheelers will always be outstanding, special neighbors to us.  Our father, Ralph, always thought the world of them, and so do we.  Before we moved to the neighborhood, the Wheelers gave us a right-of-way across their property so we could get our electricity.  As long as Ralph lived, he never forgot their kindness.  Neither have we.