All in the family: Canton couples mark golden anniversary, share recipe for happiness
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
April 14, 2013 12:00 AM | 4811 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

From left, Harold Westbrook, Shirley Westbrook, Stacy Yawn, Farris Yawn, Nadine Yawn and Aubrey Yawn. <br>Staff/Todd Hull
From left, Harold Westbrook, Shirley Westbrook, Stacy Yawn, Farris Yawn, Nadine Yawn and Aubrey Yawn.
Staff/Todd Hull
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Two Canton couples are celebrating their 50th anniversaries this spring and as well as spending most of their lives in Cherokee County, the sweethearts have another thing in common.

One couple’s daughter is married to the other couple’s son.

Aubrey Yawn, who celebrates his 75th birthday today, and Nadine Yawn, 68, work alongside their son Farris Yawn, owner of Yawn’s Publishing in downtown Canton. The Yawns will celebrate their anniversary June 14.

Farris’s wife Stacy’s parents, Harold Westbrook, 73, and Shirley Westbrook, 74, celebrated their golden marriage anniversary Saturday.

Though both couples seem to have found a secret recipe for happiness, Nadine Yawn said it isn’t much of a secret.

“You just get up every morning and say, ‘Thank God for another day,’” she said. “Soon you’ve got 50 years of days behind you.”

Born in Canton, Shirley Westbrook is a lifelong Cherokee resident and a member of the last graduating class of historic Canton High School in 1956. That fall, she began teaching at Cherokee High School and worked there for 12 years.

Her husband Harold, a Talking Rock native and former co-owner of Stacy’s Discount Store, moved to Canton about five years before they were married. The Westbrooks first met when Harold Westbrook worked at the former Canton Motor Sales.

“He brought my mother’s car back from being serviced,” Shirley Westbrook said. “After that, he called me up and asked me for a date.”

The Yawns moved from Dodge County, about 50 miles south of Macon, in 1978 for Aubrey to teach mechanics at Cherokee High School. Back in Dodge, the two met on a blind date.

“I had this friend telling me that he had met this guy that I’d just really get along with,” Nadine Yawn said. “He bugged me so long until I finally said, ‘Oh, just hush! OK.’”

Another similarity between the couples is that each of them dated just a few months before deciding to get married.

The Westbrook’s wedding in Ringgold cost Harold Westbrook only $28.

“Sometimes, the less you spend in life lasts the longest,” he said.

The four all remember days when Cherokee had few neighborhoods and many more mom-and-pop shops, but all said they enjoy the changes they’ve seen in the community.

After working in Atlanta as a corporate controller for 30 years, Nadine Yawn said since retiring, she’s been able to enjoy the community much more than when she worked.

“It’s been really nice since we’ve had the bookstore and getting to know a lot more of the community,” she said.

“There’s just still so many people we’re close to and know,” Shirley added.

Each of them had different reasons as to why their respective marriages remain strong.

Shirley Westbrook said she thinks her marriage has lasted because she and her husband maintain a purposeful balance.

“You’ve got to share everything and be willing to give and to take,” Shirley said.

Her husband said other than his wife being a “lovely mama” and a “sweet wife,” it’s about turning to God for guidance.

“You’ve got to look to him to help you out in life,” he said. “If it hadn’t had been for him, me and her wouldn’t have been together, I’m sure. Put the Lord first, and all good things will follow you.”

His wife agreed and said Christian values were central to the relationship.

“He’s been a really good husband and a good father,” Shirley Westbrook said. “He’s a good provider and a Christian man.”

The Westbrooks attend Oakdale Baptist Church in Canton and the Yawns attend Canton First United Methodist Church.

Aubrey Yawn took a more simple outlook on his relationship.

“Well, we get along and that’s all I can say,” he said.

His wife said she loves that he is there if she needs him.

“I’m pretty independent, but I know that he would take care of me if I needed it,” she said.

Farris Yawn had one word for his parents’ marriage: inspirational.

“It shows that it’s absolutely possible and there’s no reason you can’t make it last,” he said.

Stacy Yawn said her husband is her best friend, a quality she’s noticed in her parents’ relationship.

“They laugh a lot,” she said. “I think you just have to love each other and be good friends.”

The Westbrooks have another daughter, Holly Ricketts, who lives with her husband Greg and their two sons Zach, a 21-year-old Mercer University student, and Jebb, 17-year-old Cherokee High School student, in Canton.

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