NINETY SIX

On the occasion of their 70th anniversary, Hiram and Grace Mitchell don’t have many sage marriage tips to give.

Their abiding advice, they say, is a combination of love, loyalty and unconditional support.

“You just have to live every day out,” I guess,” Hiram, 93, said on Saturday during a private gathering of friends and family, where he and 87-year-old Grace were honored for their lifelong devotion to one another.

“You guys are an example not only for myself but of so many others of what commitment in a marriage looks like,” Temple Baptist Church pastor Bryan Cox said in offering a prayer to the couple. “What a tremendous and rare accomplishment. Father, they are just a picture of what it means to not only be committed to one another, but to be committed to you, above all else.”

Grace recalls the early days of their courtship — and how Hiram pursued her even as she was seeing another boy. She was living in a remote part of Saluda County. There was no telephone, so Hiram took the old-fashioned route in winning her hand.

“We didn’t have a phone at the house, so he’d just wait until I got home, and there he was,” she said.

They were married on July 2, 1949.

A longtime Greenwood Mills employee, Hiram remains active, tending to his home’s garden most days as the Mitchells hold an active social calendar.

As they hosted well-wishers Saturday afternoon at the Ninety Six church, a slideshow of their lives ran by — photos arranged by their granddaughter-in-law, Sarah Mitchell.

“Papa still works in the yard every day, he was in World War II, she was nurse for Greenwood Mills. They don’t do anything without each other,” she said.

Marjorie Butler and husband, Harold, have been married 61 years — and also have a July 2 anniversary.

They said the Mitchells, in their elegance and dutiful ambassadors to the power of love, remain an inspiration to them.

“They’re special, special people. Very special people,” she said.

Danny, their only son, agreed.

“Most people can’t stay together seven months,” he said. “Most people’s health wouldn’t allow them to stay together for so long, and it really is wonderful.”

Grace said she and Hiram have similar approaches to happiness, which has helped them through the years.

“We worked hard and played hard,” she said. “It’s about loyalty and not taking life too serious. You know tomorrow is going to be better.”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.