Love at first sight turns 60

by Alan Hodge

When 23-year-old Bill met 21-year-old Bennie Todd from the Long Creek community it was love at first sight. Shortly after, the couple was married on Feb. 10, 1952. Sixty years later, that same sense of romance still burns bright.

To celebrate the Todd’s long and loving life together, dozens of friends and family got together Feb. 12 at Trinity United Methodist Church to recognize the couple’s six decades of commitment and caring.

Bill Todd recalled to his friend the day in November 1951 when he walked into a Charlotte tire dealer to apply for a job and saw his future bride working in the office.

“I took one look at Bennie and knew that was the girl I was going to marry,” Bill said.

The ensuing four month whirlwind courtship had a slight logistical problem, but Bill didn’t mind.

“I was living in Monroe,” Bennie said. “It was 33 miles from Bill, but he drove there every day to see me. He could make it in 33 minutes.”

Besides the highway, there was another potential roadblock in the Todds’ trip to the altar.

“I was going out with another guy when Bill and I met,” Bennie said. “I had to write him a ‘Dear John’ letter.”

Once they tied the knot, the Todds began a life that saw them in the thick of community activities in Long Creek and Huntersville. Bill was Assistant Fire Chief at Long Creek VFD, coached little league baseball, and was a member of the Long Creek Masonic Lodge, Lions Club, and Optimist Club. He retired from the US Postal Service.

Bennie spent nearly 40 years in the savings and loan industry. She and Bill have both been active members at Trinity UMC where eight generations of Todds have attended.

Recently, Bill has had some health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, two back operations, two cataract surgeries and two heart attacks. He has been a resident at Olde Knox Commons nursing home in Huntersville for two years and is confined to a wheelchair. Now it’s Bennie who drives daily from home in the Westminster Park neighborhood to see Bill.

“He waits for me every day,” Bennie said. “I never miss a chance to see him.”

Bill and Bennie’s love story is an inspiration to everyone who knows them. Their daughter Patsy Todd Kiser helped organize the anniversary party.

“Not many couples make it 60 years,” Kiser said. “They have more love and caring for each other than anyone I know.”

The couple has served as an example to their children and grandchildren of how to build a strong marriage.

Bill gives Bennie a lot of the credit for their long life together.

“The secret has been that she’s a loving wife,” he said.

As for Bennie, it’s a matter of taking an active interest in each other.

“We have always enjoyed being together and taking part in activities that we both enjoy such as bingo,” she said.

Then, as Bennie tells it, there’s the main ingredient in the Todd’s sweet Valentine’s Day story.

“Church and family come first in our lives,” she said. “We are very committed to each other and thankful we’ve had 60 years together.”

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