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A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned in this space about several area residents whose obituaries recently appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and whose write-ups highlighted a significant milestone — they were married for about or a little more than seven decades.

Upon hearing about it, loyal reader Fred Faery sent this message about a couple at Alexian Village of Tennessee Retirement Community who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary late last month: "They are Bill and Gloria Hartshorn. He is 99, and she is 95. Both are very mobile and in good health and are a wonderful couple. He was a fighter pilot over Europe in WWII and was shot down over Belgium supporting the infamous Operation Market Garden."

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Bill and Gloria tied the knot July 25, 1947, a few years after the end of World War II.

Their love story since has been written with an ink that has been dyed in a forever faith.

"Well, I think it would be very helpful if they were both Christians or had the same beliefs to start with," Gloria Hartshorn said about advice she'd offer to new couples who dare to dream of being together for three-quarters of a century.

"I think one very important factor is our insatiable belief in the Lord Jesus and what he has meant in our life," Bill Hartshorn said.

Their commitment to God is as clear as their commitment to each other.

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The former, of course, is personal, but for the Hartshorns, the latter has always been about each other. When I asked Bill Hartshorn how they have stayed together this long, his answer reveals the World War II aviator is as smart as he is brave.

"It's all about that girl," he said of his better half.

Still, the highs and lows that come with life — which make the daily debates become the weekly tugs of war in a marriage — have not missed the Hartshorns. Life and finances. Kids and challenges. Work-life balance.

They were not immune. But they handled whatever confronted them because they shared the same commitment to their vows and priorities in life.

"He was a fighter pilot; he's always been good with the ups and downs," Gloria Hartshorn said over the phone Monday from her Alexian home on Signal Mountain.

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Bill Hartshorn said his wife has "always taken care of me. Even now, she's always there for me."

Common interests beyond family and faith — gardening or spending time on the water — overlapped with a willingness to embrace the other's hobbies. Their partnership was honored July 27 with a shindig that started with a guest list of 60, including more than a dozen family members.

"COVID was hanging over everything," Gloria Hartshorn said, "but all but two of the 60 we initially invited were able to make it."

Sounds like a love story that we all should celebrate.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6273. Follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson
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