Every year leading up to Valentine’s Day, the Pembroke Downtown Development Authority holds a contest for the best Pembroke Love Story.
This year’s winners, Raymond and Rose Oliver truly do have a remarkable story of young love that has endured the test the time and is deeply rooted in the city they call home.
"It all began almost 50 years ago in the picturesque small town of Pembroke, Georgia," their written submission begins. "It was 1968; the Beatles hit ‘All You Need is Love’ was on everyone’s radio, the Green Bay Packers had just won the Super Bowl … and I was in the eighth grade. My days were full of school assignments, working the tobacco fields, household chores and a big loving family. I rode the bus to school everyday … As the days went by, I began to notice a boy was always waiting there to speak to me. Some mornings I spoke back and I have to admit, sometimes I rolled my eyes. He was always there!"
Eventually, things progressed between the pair beyond a smile and a simple "hello." They dated, enjoyed each other’s company and developed a strong friendship as they fell in love.
"One of our favorite places to go together was the theater in Pembroke (he once told me, he fell in love with the way I laughed so hard at some of those shows that tears streamed down my cheeks). We would stop at the "Ice House" and get a cold RC Cola and a candy bar. We loved cruising and listening to Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and George Jones, which led to dancing the years to come at Odell’s."
Raymond proposed several times and Rose finally said, yes. The couple were married the summer before Rose started her senior year in high school.
They said their vows at the courthouse in Pembroke and made their first home together in a small apartment downtown. Their wedding bands were purchased from a jewler in town.
Raymond, who had left high school to work fulltime to help support his own family, continued to work hard to also provide for his new wife. Both of his parents passed away within a few years of his marriage and the young couple took on his siblings.
"In this one bedroom apartment, we had three of his younger brothers that lived with us. So, we had to grow up fast and I guess it made us stronger," Rose recalled.
"Twelve years went by and we brought our beautiful little daughter home. She looked just like me and had her daddy’s temperament. As moments became years, she shared our love for the community and people of Pembroke. Following family tradition, she graduated here in Pembroke and her daughter will also."
Raymond and Rose will celebrate their 47th wedding anniversary this year. Through the decades much of their own lives have been intricately entwined with the city and community they love. They’ve faced hardships and good times together and through it all have remained best friends.
"Our love has seen us through the heartache of losing our parents and other loved ones, job layoffs, sickness and many other unforeseen hard times but it has endured and grows stronger every day," Rose Oliver said. "We have been blessed to share countless wonderful times also: the birth of our granddaughter, promotions, family vacations, and retirement. Through it all we have other precious memories … we made our fairytale come true in the middle of an ordinary life."