GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — From the fight for civil rights to the COVID 19 pandemic, James and Alverrine Parker have watched the world change together during their 60 years of marriage.
James, 86, and Alverinne, 84, relocated from the South to find new opportunities in Muskegon Heights.
James recalls seeing his future bride as she was leaving a restaurant.
"He remembers more than I remember, because I thought he was too slow-talking or something at first," joked Alverrine. "James is from Kentucky. He drags when he talks. I said, 'Who in the world is that? Where did he come from?'"
The two eventually fell in love and were married on June 6, 1960. They went on to have two boys.
They also moved to Grand Rapids, buying a home in Heritage Hill that they still own today.
To mark their 50th anniversary, the Parkers received special recognition from President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. A photo of the pair along with the letter from the White House has been framed.
"We were really surprised," Alverrine told FOX 17 News. "It means a lot."
This past summer, friends and family helped mark the next milestone -- 60 years of marriage -- with a celebratory drive-by car parade amid the pandemic.
"It was nice. We sat out there ... and they came by," explained James. "Everybody was tooting as they came by. It was beautiful."
The two credit faith and friendship as the foundation of their marriage.
"The most important thing I think you learn is, we've learned, is if you can keep God first and then the rest will follow. It's not going to be all good all the time," noted Alverrine.
She also joked, "And I think that somebody has to be quiet. I've just learned to be quiet sometimes."
As for the secret to long-lasting love? They say it's simple.
"You just gotta trust each other," said James. "Be friends. At first, we were friends, but we're still friends. That's all I can say."