It would be simple to say that George and Beverlee Thomas first met more than 65 years ago as teenagers at a school dance in Philadelphia.
But George wasn’t actually there, at least not at first.
“He was actually nowhere around,” Beverlee said in an interview last week from their Piney Orchard home. “I found out later, he had been detained.”
Despite his conspicuous absence, the pair managed to meet up later. Beverlee said she walked right past other perfectly nice boys to say hello.
“I told my girlfriends, ‘oh, I’m going to go get him,’” she said, recalling that she liked that he was a bit taller than some of the other boys.
The two dated, and then upon graduation, George joined the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division in Fort Bragg, GA. It was 1946, just after the end of World War II. The two corresponded and he soon asked Beverlee to marry him. He was 18. She was 17.
The pair wed before a judge on Feb. 12, 1947 and celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary this past Sunday.
George and Beverleee said they recall their wedding day only vaguely, though Beverlee said she had to go out of her way to find an appropriate dress.
“It was during the war, and you didn’t have that kind of stuff,” she said.
For a time, George found a way to travel from Georgia to Philadelphia on weekends, then the duo eventually settled in together at her mother’s house. He took a job at a can manufacturing company, then signed up to be a police officer in the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. They settled into a home in Prince George’s County, where they lived until moving to Odenton seven years ago.
With George working various shift as a city cop, Beverlee worried. During the civil unrest in Washington in the 1960s, George was home on sick leave, but went back to work over Beverlee’s objections.
“I said ‘I have to go, they’re going to burn my city down,’” he said.
They raised four sons—George's reaction upon the birth of boy number four contained an expletive—and have helped raise eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Both insisted that they never felt the urge to stray from one another.
“Jealousy never entered my mind,” Beverlee said. “I used to tell him, ‘Look all you want, but don’t touch the merchandise.’”
"She's still got it," George said.
The pair offered some advice for young couples. Say “I love you” every day. Don’t go to bed angry. Avoid fighting in front of the children.
“It has to be 50/50,” Beverlee said. “Keep the conversation open. Don’t be afraid to tell how you’re feeling. That’s very important.”
Their bond has been tested recently, as Beverlee is undergoing treatments for lung cancer
“I don’t know what I’d do without him,” Beverlee said. “He’s been very supportive.”
Chemotherapy and radiation treatments have left her tired, but George said he marvels at how she still wants to keep him happy by pouring his coffee and fixing meals.
“She takes care of me,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ve been lucky … I think about the cancer sometimes when I go to bed, but then I go day by day. She’s here. I tell her we’re going to make it to 66. We’re going to fool everybody.”