Swannanoa couple celebrates 70 years of marriage

Special to Black Mountain News
Fred and Wilma Strickland, of Swannanoa, celebrated 70 years of marriage on June 4.

In 1949 Harry S. Truman was president of the United States. The first round-the-world flight was made in 94 hours and one minute and the cost of a loaf of bread was 14 cents. A gallon of gas was 22 cents and a postage stamp 3 cents and a Swannanoa couple entered a marriage that is still going strong 70 years later. 

World War II was coming to an end and Fred Strickland had returned home to Swannanoa, following his service in the U.S. Navy. 

Swannanoa was a bustling town in those days, and he got a job working in the diner across the street from Beacon Manufacturing Company. The highlight of his day would be when a lovely young woman, Wilma, who worked in the office at Beacon, would occasionally walk across the street for lunch. Strickland was always happy to serve her, and a sweet friendship started to blossom. 

On June 4th, 1949, their lives changed forever when the two were wed. They had no idea what life had to offer them, but were sure that they needed each other.  

Life was pretty hard back then, but they soon learned that if they loved each other with all their hearts and trusted in God to take care of them, they would make it. 

Fred and Wilma Strickland

The first child to arrive was a little girl, Sherry, full of laughter and smiles. Three years later another little girl, Pat, was born. Then, surprisingly, a year later another girl, Wanda, arrived. Eight years later they learned they were expecting another child.  Hoping for a boy this time, they were going to call him “Junior” but instead they named their fourth girl Carolyn.

Things were pretty hectic in those early years. Fred worked full time at Beacon to earn a living while Wilma took care of the girls. 

Together they tended the garden, and Wilma canned vegetables, sewed and ironed the girls’ clothes, helped them with their schoolwork and more, as they kept the family fed and happy.

Fast forward to 2019, when Fred and Wilma celebrated 70 years of wedded bliss on June 4. 

What began so long ago has endured through many years. 

Their daughters have grown and given them wonderful son-in-laws, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren who love them dearly.