Couple marks 70 years of marriage

Published 10:10 am Friday, November 9, 2012

SUFFOLK—On her 20th birthday, the former Imo Simms married teenage sweetheart Marshall Beaton.

Imo and Marshall Beaton pose together as newlyweds. -- SUBMITTED

On her 90th birthday on Oct. 27, she and her husband celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Both former Southampton County residents who now live in Suffolk, the Beatons say they weathered the good and bad to reach the milestone.

“I promised God I would take him for better or worse, ‘til death do us part, so I’m not letting him go,” Imo Beaton said.

“Everywhere you go there’s problems,” her 91-year-old husband added. “So the best thing to do is work together, day to day with your own problems, get over them and go on.”

Imo and Marshall Beaton pose together more recently.

Sandra Davis of Suffolk, who is one of the couple’s four children, said it seemed no matter the difficulties, her parents have always been better and happier together than they could have ever been apart.

“They instilled in their children a legacy of faith in God, strong work ethic, close family ties and building a strong marriage that will stand the test of time,” the 65-year-old said.

A party with more than 50 friends and family members was held for the Beatons on Oct. 27 at Bunny’s Restaurant in Suffolk. Decorated with fall colors, the event included photos of the couple and a three-tiered cake with a farm theme.

Imo Beaton was from Sebrell and her husband from Sedley. Their fathers — Thomas Simms and Stafford Beaton — knew each other through the farming community, Davis said.

Before Imo Beaton started school, her family moved to the Courtland/Sedley area where she and Marshall grew up together.

The Simms family attended the Methodist Church and the Beatons, the Baptist Church. During the 1930s and 1940s, both churches held alternating services every two weeks.

It was one of those Sundays when Imo Beaton attended Sedley Baptist that she decided she wanted to marry Sunday school treasurer/secretary Marshall Beaton when he gave his report to the congregation.

They dated for two years before marrying on Oct. 27, 1942.

“When they were courting, it was closer for Marshall to walk to the back field on the Dr. Raiford farm where he lived and take a boat across the Colgate Darden Mill Pond than walking further to the back of Imo’s family farmhouse than it was to go by road,” Davis said.

After marrying, Marshall Beaton farmed in the Sedley area before the couple moved to Suffolk 45 to 50 years ago for work. He is a retired farmer and bulk mail truck driver. His wife is a seamstress and homemaker.

The Beatons’ other children are Martha Matthews, 68, who with her husband, Elwood, lives in Chambersburg, Pa.; Marshall Beaton Jr., 61, and his wife, Glinda, of Amelia and Edward Beaton, 56, of Virginia Beach. The Beatons have 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren with a 16th expected in December.

The Beatons remain in their home and Marshall Beaton still drives locally.

“They’re pretty adamant about that (maintaining their home),” said Davis.

She attributes their longevity to a healthy diet that includes a lot of vegetables and not so much meat.

Imo Beaton enjoys word puzzles and putting together puzzles, while her husband likes playing acoustic and electric guitar.

“He never took a lesson,” Davis said. “He’ll just strum until he finds the right note.”