Family Council, a pro-family organization located in Little Rock, has recognized Cleovis and Arwilda Whiteside as the longest-married couple in Arkansas. The Whitesides have been married for 84 years and they attribute the success of their marriage to God.
Cleovis, now 102, was 17, when he married Arwilda on July 24, 1939, in Clarendon, Arkansas. 98-year-old Arwilda was 13 when they married.
“We can hardly believe this is happening to us because we feel like we were the least, but God said, ‘No. You’ll glorify my name and love one another,’” Arwilda said of their marriage, according to KATV.
A private fish fry reception sponsored by the Family Council was organized for family and friends last weekend in Pine Bluff, where the couple was honored by the Family Council.
“We’re a nonprofit organization and we promote and protect traditional family values and we can’t think of any better way to promote traditional family values than to celebrate the Whiteside’s 84 years of marriage that has been God-centered,” Charisse Dean, project coordinator at Arkansas Family Council, said, adding that the Whitesides may even be America’s longest-married couple.
The Whitesides have been recognized as Arkansas’ Longest Married Couple since 2019. The two met decades ago while Arwilda and her friend Caroline were walking home from school. As they made their way home, some boys started to chase them and Caroline told Arwilda to run to Cleovis for protection. He protected them and the boys left. Arwilda and Cleovis met years later at a church box supper, where Caroline urged the two to get married.
Today, the Whitesides are an inspiration to other couples and friends as they have kept their marriage covenant for decades now. They were thankful to all those who were present at the fish fry event.
“May God bless you and I thank you for being here today, every one of you,” Cleovis said to everyone.