Bob and Ellen Vinson of Checotah celebrated their 70th Wedding Anniversary on April 15, 2023.
_e celebration was held at the home of their son, Robert Vinson and his wife, Nancy, of Webbers Falls.
Bob & Ellen were married on April 15, 1953 at Checotah by Rev. E. A. Spillers, the pastor of First Baptist Church.
Bob and Ellen had both attended Onapa when they were in grade school. Ellen‘s family had moved from Mountain View in Western Oklahoma to the Onapa area when she was in the grade.
“Bob once told me that when he rst saw me, he decided then when he grew up, he would marry me,” Ellen said. “However, I really did not become too aware of Bob until we were in the seventh and eighth grade. One of our teachers, Hartie Mae Knight was badly burned and was in Baptist Hospital in Muskogee. She needed a blood transfusion, and since Bob was a universal donor, he went to Muskogee to donate blood for her. We had a basketball game that night and it was very cold on the bus. Bob was very cold a_er donating blood and I felt sorry for him. at’s when I took o 2my basketball jacket and wrapped it around his shoulders to keep him warm, and that was the beginning of us getting to know each other.”
Bob and Ellen would continue to be good friends throughout middle school and into high school. en they started dating each other exclusively.
“A_er 70 years of being together, neither of us can recall our _rst date,” Ellen said with a smile. “A_er loaning my jacket to Bob, we just began sitting together on the bus and we went to basketball games together, both in junior high and high school. By the time I was a junior, we were dating.”
Bob would borrow his brother, Arnold Dean’s car and the two love birds would go to Checotah to the movies with their friends, Donald Gri_n and Wilmatine Campbell, whose last name became Gri_n by summertime. Sometimes the couples even got to see a movie at the drive-in theater which was a real treat.
“We were seniors in high school when we got married on April 15, 1950. e Onapa girls’ team had played Checotah High School in a so_ball game that a_ernoon before we got married that night. Checotah defeated Onapa badly that day but a_er the game I went home, cleaned up and put on a new dress.
“Bob worked at the school and on Saturdays for his dad, Guy Vinson, and Marvin James. He operated a bulldozer, digging ponds, clearing brush, and any jobs like that. So Bob had worked with the bulldozer a few hours a_er school that day too.
“e pastor of Onapa Church did not live nearby, so we went to the home of the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Checotah, Reverend E.A. Spiller, and asked him to marry us. So Rev. Spiller called his neighbor and asked his wife to be our two witnesses and he performed our wedding ceremony.
“A_er getting married, we rented an upstairs garage apartment in town from Mrs. Rosendahl. I still remember us going to a local variety store and buying an iron skillet, two spoons, two knives, two forks, two plates, and we moved into that little apartment. We had brought some eggs from home and we bought some bacon. We were ready to set up housekeeping!”
A_er graduating a month later in May, Bob and Ellen went to Arizona where he worked short time for a public service company. “e time we spent in Arizona we always considered as our honeymoon,” Ellen said. “On one Sunday a_ernoon, we rented a motorboat and rode around a beautiful, clear lake. We had fresh grapes and other fresh produce from irrigated _elds. We enjoyed each other’s company and loved seeing the huge cactus plants and other plants, native to southern Arizona. It was de_nitely a day to remember.”
Later, the couple would move to west Texas where Bob would work for Dale Williams in the oil _eld. By that time, they started their little family.
“One of my favorite memories occurred in the late 1960s,” Ellen said. “e World Fair was in San Antonio, Texas. We had all three children by then, Robert, Kathy and Richard, but we had never been on vacation. We had very little money, but I really wanted to go to the World Fair. So Bob borrowed a camper shell and put it back on the back of our pick-up and we went to San Antonio. All of us had a wonderful experience at the fair, visiting the Alamo, and even the San Antonio zoo. All _ve of us slept in the back of the pick up under that camper shell. We o_en ate sandwiches, but we had a wonderful time. Later on we vacationed in Branson and Silver Dollar City, but that _rst vacation in San Antonio that was the highlight of our lives.”
Bob work several years in the oil _led as a roughneck and a driller. is had the family moving often to di rent towns in West Texas, and also western Oklahoma. en when their children were in _rst and second grade, they decided it was time to stop moving around and they came back home to Checotah.
“Bob got a job working maintenance for the highway department on I-40 and he worked there until he retired. We also had a cattle operation and we helped our son, Richard, with a poultry farm too. By this time Robert was a sophomore in high school, Kathy was a freshman, and Richard was in second grade. So I began college at Connors State with my friend, Marcey Petty. Later, Imogene Duvall and Betty Todd would join us driving to Northeastern State University where we would _nish our college education.
“A_er graduation, I taught English at Checotah. en I was an elementary library for a couple years. I even taught English at Connors State College.”
e Vinson’s were _rst members of the Onapa Church, but then became members of the First Baptist Church in 1975, over 48 years ago.
“When we were married in the parsonage 70 years ago we never realized what an important part, our faith and our church family would play in our lives. We have raised our family in the church and we worked together many projects, including the centennial celebration in 1998.”
Ellen would go on to write two books for the First Baptist Church, titled God’s Garden of Roses (18981978) and God’s Garden of Roses – 20 years of First Baptist Church (1979-1998).
Bob would serve on the building committee and the benevolence committee.
“Our faithful friends from the church have supported us and encouraged us throughout the past 50 years of our lives,” Ellen said. “Of course, we are most proud of our three children, seven grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. It has been a wonderful 70 years of marriage and so much more.”
Guests who attending the Vinson’s 70th Wedding Anniversary included: Robert and Nancy Vinson of Webbers Falls; Richard, Heather, Zachary and Tyler Vinson of Checotah; David, Brittany and Teddy Vinson of Argyle, TX; Jon, Cindy, Shelby, Ana, Jett, and Bear Robinson; Gary Severn of Hydro; Wayne, Joe, and Goldie Harding of Del City; Zane and Linda Harding of Boynton; Rex and Donna Harding; and Sheila Holden of Muskogee; Carolyn Prescott of Bixby; Gary Harding; and also Sam and Marcey Petty of Checotah.
A delicious lunch was served at the celebration, followed by an anniversary cake with ice cream. ere was also lots of visiting, reminiscing and picture taking.