Love Stories: Prichardville couple were high school sweethearts

April 10, 2011 

Gary and Wanda Wetherington have been married for 45 years. The Prichardville couple met in high school.

JAY KARR/THE ISLAND PACKET

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Love Stories is a monthly series chronicling the romance of a married Lowcountry couple.

This month: Gary and Wanda Wetherington

Residence: Pritchardville

Married: June 20, 1965, in Valdosta, Ga.

HOW THEY MET

Gary: She was in the eighth grade and I was in high school in Valdosta, Ga. I ran track. Her school was out running, and I was out there helping. Bottom line: I was trying to flirt with her a bit, and she wasn't having it.

Wanda: The thing is, I don't remember that. You hear the rumor that all those high school boys were wolves. You had to stay away from them. So I stayed close to my track coach.

A SECOND CHANCE

Wanda: I had an older sister who was in high school. She got her yearbook, and I started to go through it. I could date once I got into high school. I told her, "Let me see the junior class because I know they can drive cars." I was going to pick out a date. I picked Gary out of the yearbook. I said, "This is the one I'm going to date when I get to high school. He's so cute." She said, "You do not go through the yearbook and pick someone to date."

The ironic thing? I was so shy. When I got to high school I looked for him -- not outwardly, though. One day I was going to Latin class, and he and a friend of his were behind me. So I went into the class, put my books down and ran back out and he was right there. And he said, "Well, hello." We talked for a few minutes and he finally asked, "Do you want to go to the ballgame?" I said "yes" and that was it.

We went to that game and every game after. He's the only guy I ever dated. I made a good choice right from the beginning.

HIGH SCHOOL ROMANCE

Wanda: We mainly did school things. We went to games. We went to dances. It was fun stuff. Every night after the ballgame you'd have a dance. We did church activities. We didn't have any money, so we really didn't go places that cost much money.

WHEN THEY KNEW

Gary: I knew she was the one from about the time I met her. We didn't get really serious until I got out of high school.

Wanda: He went to the local college in Valdosta. I was still in high school.

Gary: I got a full track scholarship for the University of Georgia. But I didn't take it. I wanted to stay near her.

THE PROPOSAL

Wanda: I had to get out of high school before I got married -- that's what my mother said. She also said I had to be a senior before I could get engaged. We were on the way to my little sister's graduation. I had just gotten out of my junior year. So on the way there he pulls out a ring. It was special. Then we (booked) the church the first Sunday after I graduated high school.

THE WEDDING

Wanda: Those were the days you go married on Sunday afternoon. We went to church and then got married in the afternoon. It was a fairly big wedding. Everybody in church came to it. It was at our church in Valdosta.

All of our children have June anniversaries -- our two sons and our daughter. Our daughter got married three years ago. They got engaged in December, and I asked when they wanted the wedding. She said, "Aw, mom it has to be June."

WORKING TOGETHER

Wanda: After two years in college he got a job selling tires. We ended up on Hilton Head (Island) and were part of Island Tire there. We were with Lawton Oil and they let us buy out a business. I worked for him for 25-30 years.

Gary: I was the big picture guy. She was the detail person. We worked well together. I never had to worry about anything in the books.

KEYS TO A GOOD MARRIAGE

Gary: We have kept Christ at the center of the marriage. That doesn't mean we don't have our disagreements. But keep a focus on Christ. Things will work out.

Wanda: He's really good at confronting problems. He'll say, "OK what's the issue?" I'm more of the type to say, "Oh, it's nothing." We make sure to talk frequently.

Gary: People say marriage is a 50/50 proposition. It's not. Think of it as 100 percent from both people.

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