About 25,567 days; 3,652 weeks; 840 full months; 70 years; seven decades!
That’s how long Conwayites Bob and Ann Winfield have been married.
They’ve been making beautiful music together since they met in a record and music shop that opened onto the alley between Main and Laurel streets.
But that wasn’t the first time Mrs. Winfield had seen the good-looking man who was turning the heads of Conway’s young girls.
Ann was a sophomore at Coker College and home on a weekend when her younger sister insisted that she go with her and several friends to Nye’s Pharmacy on Main Street in Downtown Conway where they said, “This cute boy comes in. He’s so cute he looks like a movie star.”
After a little persuasion, she went.
“They had him so built up, so fabulous that when I saw him I said, ‘Is that who you’re talking about.’ ”
She laughs now as she remembers the incident, but admits she thought he was nice looking.
Ann only saw the man destined to be her husband that day; the couple didn’t actually meet until later.
Now with Bob 97-years-old and Ann soon-to-be 92, the couple continues to be devoted to each other.
“It’s the greatest thing in the world,” Bob says of his marriage to Ann. “It’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
According to Ann, Bob has a quick answer for anyone who asks him the secret to long life.
“A good Lord and a good wife,” is his simple, but profound answer.
The couple enjoyed a large celebration on its 50th anniversary. The celebrating was scaled down at the 60th anniversary, and the Winfields plan this time to go out to a nice restaurant with as many of their three children, three remaining grandchildren and three great-grandchildren as can make it.
Both say they never thought before about what they’d do on their 70th anniversary because they never thought they’d live this long, but they’re both going strong, living in the house that Ann grew up in.
When the Winfields first met, Bob, who grew up in Branchville, was working as an engineer with the S.C. Department of Transportation and renting a room in Conway.
“One afternoon I went in that music shop and she came in, and the man I worked with was with me and he knew who Ann was, so he introduced me to her,” Bob said, adding that they took her home because she had walked to town. That was the summer of 1942. They dated a little then, but the SCDOT transferred Bob to Charleston and Ann headed back to Coker. Bob had already volunteered for the Navy while he was in Conway, and they called him up in February of 1943.
He spent 21 months in the South Pacific before returning to the States in May of 1945.
The couple married in Conway’s First Baptist Church, the church they still attend; however, the modern brick building standing on Elm Street today didn’t come along until after they were married.
When Bob got a 30-day leave, the couple saw that as their opportunity to marry.
“Mama planned a wedding in one week’s time,” Ann said.
After their marriage, they lived with Bob’s mother for about a year before the SCDOT started constantly transferring them all over the state. That continued from 1946 to 1955, when he was finally sent back to Conway.
During his days with the SCDOT, Bob helped build bridges in Florence, Bennettsville, Society Hill, Chester, Spartanburg, Westminster, Aiken and then Conway.
One of the bridges he helped build while he was living in Conway was the soon-to-be replaced Yauhannah Bridge on U.S. 701 South.
“I never thought when I was building those bridges that I would outlive the lives of the bridges,” Bob said.
In Conway, Bob learned from friend Tab Stogner that the city engineer’s position was coming open. He got the job and started in June of 1955, working under Mayor A.C. Thompson, overseeing every city service except police and fire.
As the city grew, Winfield, a little at a time, turned his duties over to others until he retired after 25 years, in March of 1981, as the director of public utilities responsible only for water and sewer, which was what he says he liked.
“Here it is 2015. I never thought I’d live that long. I’ve actually been retired from the city longer than I worked there,” he said.
In all the years they’ve been married, the couple has learned a little something about what makes a successful marriage.
“All I know is it’s a lot of give and take...I think if you love somebody enough you respect them and respect their opinion,” Ann said.
Bob buys in to the age-old advice not to go to bed angry.
He says when they disagreed they always tried to make up before they went to bed.