Feb. 12, 2019

Joe and Catherine Lawrimore

As with all of my Valentine couples, I began by explaining that Scott Harper, of GAB News, likes for me to write these type of articles because I am not a reporter or a journalist and I write from a personal perspective. I’m not there trying to dig up dirt to write a story, as they are my story. That being said, Joe and Catherine Lawrimore have become my next subject.

This lovely couple has been married for 53 years. They met in the 10th grade at Pleasant Hill High School. “Pleasant Hill and Choppee High have become Carver’s Bay now. They’ve combined the two schools,” Catherine explained.

“So you’ve both grown up in the same community then?” I asked looking from one to the other. 

“Yes and no,” Joe answered.

Catherine picked up and elaborated, “Joe grew up near William’s Hill, which is at the edge of the county. If you walk through the woods you’ll run into the Pee Dee River. So he grew up there while I grew up on the Rhem’s side of the county, the other side. We often tell people, ‘Joe grew up in the woods, but I grew up in the country,’ since I was across from him.”

“Did you say Rhem?” I asked. “I featured a story for Halloween last year and it was about a Rhem House that is haunted.”

“Yes, it’s the only one left, too,” Catherine stated, knowing the property I wrote about. She even knew the previous owners.

We talked a little more about the Rhem House before I asked (getting back to the article), “Tell me what happened after high school, where did you go?”

“I went to college in Columbia,” Joe answered. “I took a two-year business course and Catherine worked at Baxter Laboratories.”

“Yes, I moved to Columbia and took a job up there. We married a few months later. It was March of ‘66,” she shared. “A few months after we married, Joe enlisted into the Air Force.”

“You enlisted?” I asked, “Not drafted? You did that by choice?”

Joe nodded in agreement. “I knew I was going to get drafted and I wanted to decide which branch of the service I went into so, I enlisted into the Air Force after college. By then, Catherine and I were already married.”

“We didn’t know it then, but when you got drafted they’d line you up and go down the list of names putting people in different branches so as not to flood just one branch,” Catherine explained. “They’d count off, Navy, Air Force, Army, and so on.”

I did not know that, either. To Catherine, I asked, “What did you do while he was away?”

“While he was in the service, I worked on Broad Street in Charleston. I was pregnant at the time...,” she started.

“...I came home from Labrador, Newfoundland from the Air Force after the baby was born,” Joe added.

Catherine nodded, “Yes, our first daughter was a year old when he got out of the service. After Joe got home in 1970, we traveled a little for his work. We lived in Greenville, Atlanta...you know, the bigger cities.”

“What brought you home to Georgetown?”

“Family. Our parents were getting older and ailing so we just thought it was time to come home and we’re very happy we did. We love Georgetown,” Catherine gushed. “It’s our home.”

During their marriage, they both worked at Georgetown Steel Mill while raising their two daughters. Joe worked in Production Planning before he retired and enjoyed farming afterwards (he has a family farm). Catherine also retired from working in the sales office at the mill. At 72 years old, they both lead very active lives with family, grandchildren, and just with each other.

I asked what their Valentine plans were (I think I caught them off guard). They look at each other, shrugged, and said they didn’t have any. Like my husband and I, they’ve been married for so long that it’s just another day. We don’t make plans, either.

“Who knew it first?” I asked throwing it in the midst of the Valentine plan conversation. “Who knew first that you were meant for each other?”

“I did,” Joe answered without hesitation.

Catherine glanced at her husband. “I believe it was you because you had told someone that you were going to ask me to marry you.”

“And what would you say is your recipe for a lasting marriage?” I asked as I wrote some notes down in my notebook.

Like past couples that I’ve interviewed, without hesitation, they said the first thing any marriage needs is, God.

“Children,” Catherine added. “Children are great for a marriage. They keep you going. We have a very close family here.”

Joe thought a minute and then added, “Values. You should both share the same values as one another and communication.”

“That’s right,” Catherine agree. “Talk to each other every day.”

I set aside my notebook as we talked for several more minutes. My husband had come back to pick me up. I wasn’t allowed to drive myself over there. Since driving to George and Ruthie Dugan’s around the corner, he has grounded me from driving and hid the car keys until my eyes get better (he can be so unreasonable!).

We talked about our kids and grandchildren and then Catherine pulled me into another room to show me the pictures of their two daughters. On the wall hung two very beautiful young women in portrait pictures. I noticed the radiant smile on Joe’s face. His eyes lit up as he gazed upon his lovely daughters.

Yup. I know they are daddy’s girls...no doubt. He probably spoiled them rotten!

When I got out to the car with my husband, I was sharing with him some of the information. One thing I mentioned is their age (72 years old). He did not realize they were one of my Valentine Couples.

“They’re really in their 70s,” he marveled. “I thought they were about your age (50s) and younger than me! Man, I gotta find out which brand of Wheaties they eat.”

On a side note: Before I go, I want to write about this. I usually refused to write about anyone’s health when I feature people. I feel it is not my place to put their privacy out there; it is the families’ place. However, Catherine has expressed that she wanted me to write it and I agreed to.

As a nurse, I can tell you that very few people make it back from brain cancer and/or tumors and most that do survive the surgery and treatments are not necessarily out of the woods, yet. It doesn’t just affect one’s ability to think and process information, but sometimes their ability to walk, or even speak, can be affected.

Joe is a walking miracle. He’s one of the few that have survived and that in itself is amazing and worth mentioning. He’s able to think, process, participate, walk, and speak. If no one had told you, you probably would never know.

I mention this because as he stood admiring his daughter’s pictures on the wall, just the look of pride on his face told me that in addition to Catherine’s love, his daughters were also his inspiration. With that being said, I want to wish Catherine, and especially Joe Lawrimore, a very special Valentine’s Day. Joe, you’ve got this and I think you will see many more.