The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

August 13, 2013

Wartime date leads to 65 years of married bliss

By Jason O'Boyd, Staff Writer

Sunday, August 11, 2013 — Thomas and Margaret Lipe don’t have any secrets they hide when it comes to their 65-year marriage.

“We just don’t fuss and fight. We get along good and we like a lot of the same things,” Thomas, 91, said.

“She’s a good cook, too. We just hit it off.”

Margaret, 87, certainly agreed with her husband’s assessments.

“He’s easy to get along with. He’s generous. I could say things about him all day long. He’s just a fine fella,” she said.

Thomas, who is originally from Millingport, entered the Navy at age 20 during the height of World War II. He had stops literally all over the world, from New Zealand and Pearl Harbor to the invasions of North Africa and Okinawa, Japan.

And though he had his fare share of dodging bullets, bombs and the enemy all along the way, it wasn’t a tense situation all the time.

“We got torpedoed in North Africa. The ship got torpedoed but it didn’t sink,” Thomas said, recalling his time in the war.

“We got to stay in Casablanca (Morocco) for six months for them to fix the ship up. That’s a summer resort in the winter time. We were having a good time. There are a lot worse places to be.”

While Thomas was off serving his country, Margaret was working at a department store and going to Catawba College, an opportunity one of her aunts provided. She came here after living for years in South Boston, Va. When Thomas was discharged from the Navy in 1946 and came back to Stanly County, he had one simple request for his sister Aileen, who was also at Catawba.

“She was at Catawba College and (Margaret’s) roommate was my sister. When I got back from overseas, I wrote my sister and told her I was coming home on leave and to get me a date,” Thomas said with a laugh.

“That’s who she brought home. We’ve been together ever since.”

Thomas called the date “just an ordinary day. I just took it in stride.” Margaret didn’t seem to mind going on a date with Thomas either, especially after seeing his photos.

“It didn’ bother me. I had been on a date before. I saw pictures of him and I thought he was all right. That was it.”

It was a relationship that grew quickly, but not so quickly that they were ready to get married right away. Margaret had to finish college, saying 'He was ready but I had to delay it (the wedding). I had to delay everybody.”

They got married on July 3, 1948 at 5 p.m. — Thomas still has such a sharp mind to remember things like that — and went to Washington, D.C. for their honeymoon. They lived with Thomas’ father for a month because an apartment they had lined up in Albemarle fell through. They were eventually able to get a home in the city.

“Housing was hard to come by after the war. Everybody getting married and moving out,” Thomas said.

He worked in manufacturing at Collins and Aikman for 42 years while she worked in the school superintendent's office for nearly 20 years as a secretary. They even had a son, Tom Jr., who currently lives and works in Maryland.

When they retired, they inherited some land and the house where Thomas’ father lived. They grew fruits and vegetables but, as Thomas put it “I didn’t work anywhere else after I retired.”

Their health has declined over the years, and they are currently staying at Spring Arbor of Albemarle. Thomas says his joints are worn out while Margaret is suffering from Parkinson's Disease.

But you’ll find them together nearly every time. It's hard to separate a couple that's been together through thick and thin for 65 years.

"We came from, I guess when you get right down to it, our family on both sides got along. No fussing or fighting. We didn’t know any other way to do it," Thomas said.

Spring Arbor recognized the couple on their 65th anniversary with a surprise cake that was enjoyed with the other residents.

It's been a good life for the couple, through the good times and bad. And while they might not be as spry as they once were, you can still see the love and excitement they have for each other in their eyes and actions, too.

All in all, not a bad job by Aileen in fixing the two up.

“It’s gone real good, it’s gone real good,” Margaret said.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email at