Dallas couple celebrates 71st anniversaryBy Sara Martin
Loyle and Velma Miller met in the spring of 1940 at a Sadie Hawkins dance.
“Loyle was there with another girl, and I was there with another boy,” says Velma. “But when Loyle asked me to dance, I thought he was just about as handsome as anyone I’d ever seen.”
At the time, the two were students at a junior college in Kansas. Shortly after their first meeting, Loyle joined the National Guard and was sent to Little Rock, Ark. The couple maintained a long-distance courtship until December 1941.
“After the attack on Pearl Harbor, my outfit was ordered to the West Coast,” says Loyle. “I had already purchased a ring. I told Velma if she wanted her engagement ring, she’d better come after it.”
Taking Loyle at his word, Velma bought a ticket aboard the El Capitan train, operated by the Santa Fe Railroad, to San Luis Obispo, Calif.
“I didn’t know anyone in California,” says Velma. “I stayed with two women whose husbands were stationed with Loyle.”
The couple wed on March 21, 1942, at the San Luis Obispo United Methodist Church. The minister and two friends were the only people in attendance.
“I was an only child, so my parents had always talked of giving me a big wedding,” says Velma. “It didn’t work out the way they planned.”
Still, Velma says she wouldn’t trade their story for any other.
“Loyle and I stayed up and talked the night before our wedding,” she says. “Then he went out in the morning to buy my wedding band. I didn’t take the ring off until I broke my arm ten years ago. When the doctor removed my ring, he said I should ask Loyle to exchange it for a great big diamond. I told the doctor I wouldn’t think of it.”
One month after their wedding, Loyle went to officer candidate school in Virginia. Velma returned to Kansas to live with her parents.
“I didn’t meet Loyle’s family until after we were married,” says Velma. “When I returned to Kansas, I drove 120 miles from Garden City to Pierceville to meet them. Fortunately, we made a good impression on each other.”
Loyle was commissioned in July 1942 and sent to Hattiesburg, Miss. Velma joined him there until Loyle’s regiment, the 350th Engineer General Service Regiment, was sent to the South Pacific in January 1943.
“Loyle was gone for 33 months,” says Velma, who went back to Kansas once more and worked at the courthouse and the agricultural office. “We wrote every day, and that’s how we really got to know each other. But in some ways, those feel like lost years.”
Loyle returned home on October 30, 1945. Velma drove to Fort Leavenworth, Kans., to meet him.
“Going to see him for the first time in three years, I thought, ‘My gosh, I wonder if I’ll even know him,’” says Velma.
She didn’t have to worry. Loyle was, in her words, “as handsome as ever.”
“One thing I remember most about that day is the song that was playing in the room where we met,” says Velma. “It was Bing Crosby’s ‘It’s been a long, long time,’—‘Kiss me once, then kiss me twice, then kiss me once again.’”
The couple stayed at the Muehlebach Hotel in Kansas City, then spent the following months visiting family members until Loyle started at the University of Oklahoma in January 1946.
“I studied petroleum engineering,” says Loyle. “I graduated in 1949 and went to work for Shell Oil.”
Today, the couple has three children, nine grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
“We’ve been blessed,” says Velma. “Our family is very good to us.”
Seven years ago, Loyle and Velma decided the time was right for a move to an independent living community. When they heard that Erickson Living was building a community near their Richardson home, the couple decided to take a look.
“We visited the sales office and were impressed with the plans,” says Loyle. “We liked the on-site amenities and the spacious floor plans, so we [reserved] our apartment sight unseen.”
Once Highland Springs was built, the couple didn’t waste any time settling into their two-bedroom, two-bath apartment home with a sunroom.
“I love the natural light that streams into our apartment,” says Loyle.
This year, the couple will celebrate their 71st anniversary with friends and family. When asked the secret to their lasting happiness, Loyle says the key is to always put the other person first. Velma says that laughter is the glue that holds them together.
“We always have fun together,” she says. “You’d be surprised at how young we still feel.”