His eyes were shining, too, and I thought he looked like the happiest man on earth.
Those who know the couple are not surprised their marriage has lasted for more than 70 years. They are probably more in love today than they were on the night they married.
June was in 10th grade and Rudy the 11th at Canton High. She dropped her books on the stairs when he came walking by. One of the things June noticed was his lips. She thought they were beautiful. She decided right then Rudy Phillips was the man she would marry and even carved their names into her grandmother’s chair.
Rudy and the late David Bottoms were friends. They were driving around Canton when they saw June and another girl. The girls accepted their invitation for a ride. Naturally, June hopped up front with Rudy.
She admits she chased him. Rudy said that wherever he was, she was nearby grinning. He did not run fast during the chase. When she graduated from high school he gave her an engagement ring.
June’s mother began planning a nice wedding.
On December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day, the world changed. So did Rudy and June’s wedding plans.
Since he had been involved in training that would lead into his being in military service, they expected he would be one of the first to be drafted.
So, they decided to get married right then. With another couple, they went to Marietta. It was too late for anyone to marry them there. However, they were told of a justice of the peace who would perform marriages at any time, day or night.
So, off they went to Cartersville. The JP was willing to marry them, but he would not believe June was 18.
Her grandmother was the night operator for the telephone company in Canton. The JP agreed to talk with her to be certain June was 18. Naturally, grandmother patched him through to June’s mother.
While Ms. Phillips — June’s maiden name was Phillips, too — objected to their eloping, she confirmed that June was 18. That being the case, the JP married them. Since it was well after midnight, their anniversary is Dec. 8.
After the wedding, they went home with their friends. The next morning, each went back to their parents’ homes. With Rudy’s mother telling those married folks they should live together, June moved in with Rudy and his family.
It took a while, but June’s mother eventually forgave Rudy for eloping.
When the couple got their own place, the new bride knew nothing about cooking or keeping house. She was so proud while she was cooking her first meal for Rudy. The result was green-looking cornbread and burned beans. Naturally, she cried.
Incidentally, for anyone who needs to know, Rudy’s uncle said that eating cornbread would keep you from wetting the bed.
It was about a year later when Rudy was drafted and went in the Air Force.
After the war, they built a wonderful life for themselves. For much of her life, June was a stay-at-home mother and homemaker. During her working years, she was a more than competent secretary to those in important positions, including two army generals.
The Phillips were blessed with a son, two grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Rudy was always a worker and often had two jobs at one time. He worked with his father in the automotive business but left since there was not enough work to support two families. After the war years, people were slow about buying cars or any other costly items.
He was one of those people who could sell anything from cars to Bibles door-to-door as he did for 13 years. He would bet he could sell three people out of five a Bible. He never lost a bet.
Rudy became vice president and sales manager for the international printing company. That involved overseas travel, so he and June saw Europe.
Now retired, Rudy and June Phillips live on a beautiful lot on Lake Allatoona. They enjoy family, friends, and golfing. When people are dancing their kind of dancing, they like that, too.
During their almost 72 years together there have been some bumps in their marriage, but they smoothed them out. Almost every day they say to one another, “I love you.” They are also best friends.
For those who want a life well lived, it is easy for me to say, “Just get in behind Rudy and June Phillips and follow in their footsteps.”
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.