Photo by Lisa Bicknell
Ruby and Harold Hunt are celebrating their 74th anniversary on February 16, 2020. They were married in 1947. Ruby was 18 and Harold was 20.
With nearly 74 years of wedded bliss behind them, it is possible, even likely, that Harold and Ruby Hunt have been married longer than anyone else in the county.
Their love story began at the White Oak Church of God, where they first got acquainted.
Harold says he told somebody then, “I’d like to marry that girl.”
Ruby was only “16 or 17” at the time. She was one of 14 siblings and had several sisters, but for Harold, she was “the pick of the litter.”
Eventually, Harold approached her father to ask for Ruby’s hand in marriage. Harold remembers that they were seated in the parlor, when he told Ruby’s father (Vernon Harrison) that he loved her, that they had been “going together,” and that he had a job.
Harold laughs as he tells about Ruby “running off” (out of the parlor), while that conversation was taking place.
Before their marriage was to begin, however, Harold received a letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, requiring him to report for duty to his country.
He passed the necessary screenings and was asked which branch of the military he’d like to serve. He replied, “the Army.”
They told him he’d serve in the Navy. And he did, for “two years, one month and seven days.”
Reflecting on that turn of events, Harold said it was probably a good thing, because he “didn’t have to dig foxholes.”
Once his time with the service was completed, Harold was eager to marry the sweetheart he’d been waiting for so long.
Ruby was eager to be married to Harold too, but she put him off until after the Valentine’s Day party hosted by Carhartt, her employer at that time.
Harold and Ruby were married on Feb. 16th by a justice of the peace in a simple ceremony. Ruby wore a yellow suit, and she says it was probably something she already had.
Anyway, Harold thought she was “a doll.” They spent their first night together in a motel in Winchester, then they traveled on to Ohio, where they spent a night or two with friends.
Their first home was not far from where they currently live on White Oak. Harold remodeled an old house that had been used for hay storage.
As a married couple, they have lived in three different homes, all within a couple of miles of each other on White Oak.
The home where they live now, and have lived for nearly 50 years, is one they built. Ruby had her heart set on a fieldstone house, but Harold hadn’t been able to locate the right kind of stone. He had ordered yellow brick, when he heard of a property owner at Ruckerville, near Winchester, who had a rock fence he wanted removed.
Harold and Ruby worked in the evenings after they got home from their jobs until they dismantled the rock fence, loaded it up and hauled it to Estill County. They had enough rock to cover the home, to build a rock wall in the backyard, and to build a grill and a mailbox.
Less than a year after the two were married, along came Terry Lynn [Williams], whom her father describes as “the sweetest little girl.”
Terry says she is thankful to have always had “wonderful, loving parents—Christian parents.”
“We did everything together,” she said, even the housework. She says she would dust, while her dad ran the vacuum, and her mom did the laundry.
And even after working outside the home all day long, her mom almost always had a hot meal on the table for dinner, Terry recalls.
Her parents were warmly welcoming to her friends, too.
“Growing up, they let me have company all the time,” Terry said.
Terry eventually blessed her parents with two grandchildren, who in turn blessed them with four great-grandchildren.
Although Harold and Ruby have had a long and happy marriage, they’ve also shared some heartache.
Ruby remembers with tear-filled eyes their second child, an infant son who only lived a few days.
It was not the first time Ruby had experienced tragedy.
When she was 13, her family lost their home and all their belongings in a house fire. Her baby sister also perished in that fire.
Ruby felt the need to quit school and go to work to help the family get back on their feet. Her first job was as a baby-sitter, and she was paid $3 a week.
She later had opportunity to attend night school and earned her GED.
Harold attended Irvine High School for two years, then Estill High for two, where he graduated.
He spent the majority of his working years at Bluegrass Army Depot in Richmond, retiring from there in 1981.
By then, the couple had bought a nice motorcycle, and they spent a lot of time sightseeing.
However, Ruby’s job at Sylvania was interfering with their freedom, so she retired a couple of years later with 28 years of service. Eventually, they bought a vacation home near Lake City, Fla. and spent winters down there.
After their home at White Oak was ransacked multiple times, the couple decided they would stay at home for the winters.
These days, the Hunts stay active in their church, and they still manage several rental properties.
Years ago, they bought property off Stump Rd. and cleaned it up with the help of a couple of others. They also bought and built several homes on Ruby Lane and in the Raintree Court area.
They still maintain 19 rental properties to this day. Harold says they keep up with the rent, taxes, insurance, and upkeep of each one, and he says he’ll have to tell “Uncle” by the 15th of April.
Both Harold and Ruby still drive, and both are in relatively good health. Harold says he’s on his fifth knee, and he’s had two pacemakers, but the most painful thing he has to deal with is the treatment he undergoes every four weeks for macular degeneration.
Ruby says she’s also had some health problems, “but I just haven’t let it stop me.” She too has had a pacemaker, but her house is neat as a pin, and she keeps Harold well fed.
Every day, Harold gets up at 5:30 and heads to Hardees for coffee. Ruby prepares his favorite breakfast while he’s gone. He likes a mixture of “three or four kinds of cereal” with fruit—grapes, bananas, apples, and blueberries.
She typically gets up “real early” and “does a lot of work” but says she’s not much of a breakfast eater.
Ruby and Harold’s lives have been grounded in their faith. They have been members of Williams Memorial Baptist Church on Poplar Street for 65 years. Ruby serves as the church secretary for Sunday School, and Harold is chairman of the deacon board.
Ruby has taught Sunday school to many age levels, and down through the years, the two have taken many Estill County youth on trips.
Harold insists that he’s “come to accept that I’m married to a saint.”
Ruby shakes her head a bit at that and scolds, “Oh, honey, you are going to extremes.”
Harold’s advice for a successful marriage? “Never go to bed angry.” Or, at the very least, “stay up all night until you fight it out.”
“I kiss her and tell her I love her every day,” he said.
Also, Harold said that he is proud and so thankful that both he and Ruby have accepted the Lord as their Savior. He says he realizes they are blessed and very fortunate.
While they’ve had their “ups and downs,” Harold says that what really matters is that they’ve “got each other.”
“And I’ll just tell you,” he concludes. “The grass is not greener on the other side. I made a vow to ‘forsake all others,’ and I’ve never strayed.”
With a twinkle in his eye, he quips, “But I might when I get older.”
Ruby, who had stepped briefly into another room, turns back with a grin and asks, “What’s he sayin’ now?”
All kidding aside, Harold concludes with the sincerest conviction, “I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have a loving wife, to be married for 74 years to someone I love.”