The moment they met, Bill and Vera LaGue of Surfside Beach knew they wanted to spend their lives together.
“It was just magic, I guess. I guess you’d say it was love at first sight. We’ve had a happy marriage and made a lot of fun memories in our 70 years together,” said Vera, 89.
“I knew right from the start. She was a cute gal, and she still is,” said Bill, 91.
On May 14, they will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
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Outside their home, flowers thrive under Vera’s green thumb.
“She can make anything bloom. They used to have beautiful gardens,” said their daughter, Terri Johnson.
On their porch, there is a wood crafted crow and chicken with a sign the reads, “An old Crow and a Cute Chick live here.”
Inside, the long mantle over their fireplace is lined with pictures of their four daughters, 13 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
They bought that house in 1973 after vacationing in the area while they worked in Washington, D.C., and moved into it in 1978 after Bill retired from 32 years at the Government Printing Office as a proof reader for the Congressional Record and Vera retired after 15 years as a telephone operator for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“Surfside is the best place in the world,” Bill said.
Vera grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana. Bill grew up in a small town not far away. A strong sense of civic duty and patriotism was instilled in him by his father, a World War I veteran, and the people of that small town where the American Legion was the biggest organization.
Bill and Vera met and fell in love when she went to the restaurant where he worked while she was babysitting in the town where he lived.
During World War II, he served in the Army Air Corps as a radio operator on a B29 bomber. In 1943, he was stationed in Chicago, and was barracked in the famous Stevens Hotel, a 3,000-room hotel that later became the Hilton Chicago.
Bill and Vera got married in the chaplain’s office on the 25th floor.
“They couldn’t give me a three-day pass, so they gave me three 24-hour passes,” Bill said.
Vera said they have had four big weddings, but they were for their daughters; Johnson of Surfside, and Carol Fox, Judy Simpson and Susan Humphries of Maryland.
“Ours was only 13 people,” she said.
Bill was never sent into battle, but Vera worried that he would be.
“I had to sweat that all the time,” she said.
The LaGues have lived in several states. They recall paying $19 per month rent for one of their apartments. Their first car was a 1936 Chevrolet that Bill paid $600 for in 1940.
For 17 years, Bill served on the Surfside Beach Planning and Zoning Committee. For many years, he was active in the Knights of Columbus, but he has been dealing with some health problems and has had to forego some of his activities.
“He’s always been one of those guys that is a doer,” Terri Johnson said.
After moving to Surfside, Bill was bothered by the fact that little was done to honor or remember veterans. In 1980, he worked to organize the Grand Strand Patriotic Alliance, a group of organizations working together for that purpose.
Three of their grandchildren are Surfside natives and the LaGues have played a big role in their lives.
Their granddaughter, Lisa Johnson, said, “It is truly amazing to see a couple so in love after this many years. I could not have asked for better grandparents. They are the most inspirational people I know and I love them with all my heart.”
Laura Johnson is their youngest granddaughter.
“The love that my grandparents have for each other is truly amazing. I have spent 19 great years with my grandparents, and watch them fall in love more and more every day. I love them so much,” she said.
“They are amazing. They really are,” Terri Johnson said.