Fayetteville, N.C. — A Fayetteville couple who have been together for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, for 70 years finally shared their vows in a church on Sunday.
Hoyt and Emily Randall eloped shortly before the young Navy man went off to fight in World War II and were married on Jan. 8, 1943.
"We just went to the justice of the peace," Hoyt Randall said Monday.
"We only had two witnesses," Emily Randall added.
"It's not a Hollywood marriage, I'll tell you that," Hoyt Randall said with a laugh.
Over the decades, the couple watched their family grow, and they helped each other through health problems – his prostate cancer and her heart attack – while sharing laughter and faith.
"I think it's that we believe in God and believe in going to church," Emily Randall said when asked how their marriage has lasted so long.
"I suspect cooking is a good reason. She's a good cook," her husband said. “It’s been a lifelong thing. If you’re going to pick a bride, pick one like my wife and you got a good one.”
The couple also survived a 2007 fire that threatened their Fayetteville home.
A passing police officer smelled smoke and saw bushes on fire outside the house. He couldn't wake the Randalls by ringing their doorbell or knocking, so he called a dispatcher, who called the house and helped the couple escape unharmed.
"'Your house is on fire. There's somebody out front,'" Hoyt Randall recalled the dispatcher telling him. "I jumped up and got out real fast."
After all their ups and downs, the couple, both 87, decided to walk down the aisle together at Gethsemane Baptist Church in Fayetteville, across the street from their home.
Emily Randall said renewing their vows in a church wedding was her husband's idea.
"When I started going down the aisle, I felt really nervous, but I was on top of the world," she said.
All five of the Randalls' children were at the wedding, along with the couple's nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Their great-granddaughters served as flower girls for the ceremony.
"I continue my promise to you that I will be your faithful partner in life," they told each other as they exchanged rings and a kiss.