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Couples share secret of lasting love

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Feb 14, 2018 at 9:00 AM

Two Lebanon couples have stuck together through more than 50 years together and continue to grow their love each day. 

Fred and Faye Vanhook have shared 60 years of marriage, and Bruce and Janice Ledford hit 57 years recently. Both couples are members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lebanon, and both said the same thing about sticking together. Apparently, the secret of a long-lasting love is give and take. 

“Sometimes it’s not a 50-50, sometimes it’s a 75-100, and sometimes it is a 50-50. And it goes both ways,” Bruce Ledford said. “Admit you were wrong when you’re wrong. We’ve done that all of our lives, both of us have. That’s important.” 

With a bit of give and take, a long marriage can apparently seem like a short ride. 

“It has certainly not seemed like 60 years. The time has gone by so fast,” Faye Vanhook said. 

The Ledfords met in high school, but it took Bruce Ledford some years to get up the courage to ask his future bride out on a date. 

“I was a bashful one, so it took me from sophomore to senior to ask her out, and that was the day that I graduated,” Bruce Ledford said. “Turns out, she volunteered to be a hostess just to see me. We dated all summer, she graduated, and then I went into the service after we got married.” 

The Ledfords have two sons, Jeff and Derrick, and have attended Immanuel Baptist Church since 1966, one year after they moved to Lebanon. 

“When I got out of the service I was looking for a job, and I wanted to work in the aerospace industry in Nashville, but I did not want to live in Nashville being a country boy. So we stopped in Lebanon, and we’ve been in Lebanon since 1965,” Bruce Ledford said. 

The Vanhooks met at First Baptist Church in Lebanon on a Sunday night when Faye Vanhook visited with a girlfriend. 

“I met Fred, and he called me on Monday night, and we dated and then married,” Faye Vanhook said. They were married in August 1957. 

“Our children gave us a very nice celebration for our anniversary last year at our church,” Faye said. “We’ve had a wonderful life.”

Fred Vanhook was called to serve as music director at Immanuel Baptist Church, which he did for 12 years. While he ran a printing business and worked in real estate, Faye Vanhook worked for First Tennessee Bank in Lebanon. Fred Vanhook has worked for the last 44 years to bring the Gospel Music Festival to the Capitol Theatre in Lebanon. 

The Vanhooks have three children, Joyce Holleman, Janette Harvey and James Franklin Vanhook. They are also grandparents to seven and great-grandparents to two. 

As for Valentine’s Day plans, the Vanhooks will be going to church Wednesday night, while they await a trip to Florida next week. 

The Ledfords are relaxing at a condo in Pigeon Forge. 

“She’s been wanting some earrings, so I’ll probably go see if we can’t find some,” Bruce Ledford said. “I’ve always asked her will she be my Valentine every year.”

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