Henry Cannon almost didn’t get to celebrate 70 years of being married to his wife Jac.
A man who claimed to be a local preacher when he went into the car dealership where Cannon worked, told Mr. Cannon he should get his heart problems checked out at Providence, a medical facility in Columbia known for excellent heart care, Mrs. Cannon said.
His current doctor wasn’t in a hurry to send him there, but after that encounter, Cannon insisted on going.
“They sent him and as soon as he was there and checked out, he was told had he not come he would have had a massive heart attack by summer, and they may not have been able to save him,” Mrs. Cannon said.
She said he had an angioplasty and all was well.
But, despite their efforts in combing area churches to find the man and thank him, they never found him or saw him again.
“One of God’s angels saved Henry’s life,” Mrs. Cannon said. “It was one of the most outstanding things to happen in our marriage…besides the birth of two children!”
On June 15, the Cannons celebrated their 70th anniversary.
Mr. Cannon was born in Conway, and Mrs. Cannon moved here around 1938, she said. Her father was the manager of the A&P Grocery store at the time.
She said she and Henry met at Conway High School, and they had known of each other for awhile because his father owned a dairy that supplied her father’s grocery store.
As for their first date, it took Mr. Cannon a moment to recall it.
“There’s a lot he might like to forget!” Mrs. Cannon joked.
Their Future Farmers of America clubs, which were split into two groups by gender, went to Murrells Inlet and they both attended with their respective groups.
“We helped with a supper that first night,” Mrs. Cannon said. “I was 14; my dad thought I was entirely too young. He was four and a half years older than I.”
It wasn’t long, she said, before he was drafted and headed to war right out of high school. While he was gone, she canned fried chicken and sent it to him, as well as knitted scarves for the soldiers with a group of women. Mr. Cannon’s mother called her to come to their home when Henry was due to call from the war, so she would get a chance to hear his voice, too.
“It was so good of her to do that,” Mrs. Cannon said.
While she said she thought she knew Mr. Cannon was “the one” even then, she said she wasn’t sure he was onboard, although he said he was “99 percent sure” she was the one for him.
“The girls loved him because he was such a good dancer,” Mrs. Cannon said. “But I was the dance chairman [in college] so it worked out.”
He returned from the war as she was leaving to attend the then all-girls Winthrop University, and she said his dancing skills won him the title of Mr. Winthrop at one time.
“He gave me a diamond the summer after my junior year at Winthrop,” Mrs. Cannon said.
The couple married on June 15, 1949, in First United Methodist Church in Conway, officiated by the Rev. A.F. Ragan. She said they had a good crowd and “the church was full.”
Mostly thanks to the families of Mr. Cannon’s 10 other siblings and their families, too.
They didn’t have a reception, which Mrs. Cannon said she has regretted all these years, but they had a large rehearsal dinner with all of their friends.
“We dated seven years, I was so glad to get him…I didn’t want to hang around a lot after the wedding,” Mrs. Cannon said.
They went to the mountains in North Carolina for their honeymoon, but had to stay on a budget, she said.
“We had $50 to spend and we brought back $49, didn’t we?” Mrs. Cannon asked her husband.
Five years passed before they had their son Mike in 1954, followed by their daughter Pat four years later.
Mr. Cannon spent his career working in auto parts for Palmetto Chevrolet, followed by a dealership owned by Bob Bible.
Mrs. Cannon taught in Aynor schools after graduating, saying she couldn’t work in Conway at the time because the superintendent wanted them to have two years of experience first.
“We didn’t even have 501 at the time, so I had to go the long way around,” Mrs. Cannon said.
She moved on to teach seventh and eighth grades at Conway Junior High, and over in the old Whittemore school, she said. Then when the new Conway High School was built she transferred there and taught ninth grade science until closing out her 37-year teaching career.
She said she retired multiple times, going back as a receptionist at the school for seven or eight more years, then continued working at a local law office for 16 years.
“While I was doing that, he was retired and at home having a grand ol’ time,” Mrs. Cannon said.
One of the fun memories they have together is when they planned to tour the entire United States, a third of the country at a time.
“We left here and ended up in Riverside, California,” Mr. Cannon said. “We toured everything below Interstate-20.”
They stopped to visit his sister’s grave, and also visited where he spent some time in the service. Mrs. Cannon said they also went by Victorville, Calif., and saw Roy Rogers.
“We got a picture with him,” she said.
They were gone three weeks, and Mrs. Cannon said she wanted to dip her toe into the Pacific Ocean. She didn’t get to, because she said Mr. Cannon was ready to go home.
“I got to see it though,” she said.
As a science teacher, she said she was fascinated with getting to see the lava fields and the geography so different from Conway’s.
“In Kansas, you could look for miles without a tree,” Mrs. Cannon said.
They didn’t get to tour the other two-thirds of the country, but for good reason.
“The next year, Chuck [Jordan, their son-in-law] and Pat adopted [grandchild] Cannon,” Mrs. Cannon said. “Then we didn’t want to leave.”
What is their secret to such a long marriage?
“You agree to disagree,” Mr. Cannon said. “Nothing serious. We’ve never had a knockdown, drag-out.”
“Communication,” she echoed. “A lot of love and understanding, and patience that he has and I don’t have.”
There’s also an important element of fun, as she said they would go and dance at the sock hop at the school where Mrs. Cannon taught.
“Not shag, we were jitterbugs,” Mr. Cannon said.
They went and danced there for fun, and to entertain the students during their sock hops.
“We did things like that so they could laugh,” Mrs. Cannon said.
The couple still attends church at Trinity United Methodist Church in Conway, which branched out of First United Methodist years ago, she said.
“We have had a good life,” Mrs. Cannon said. “We’ve had a lot of fun.”
They have two grandchildren, Cannon Jordan (27) and Sawyer Jordan (24).