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70 years of marriage and going strong

Couples need to work together to stay together. This is the lesson Lou Norton learned from her parents, Ervin Smith and Loise Case Smith, many years ago.

The Brookhaven natives celebrated their 70 years of marriage with their family Jan. 17.

“We come together to celebrate with them every year,” said Norton, who will be celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary in August.

The Smiths were just getting out of high school when they married. They grew up together and were both active in sports, especially basketball.

Norton followed the same path as her parents by getting married at a young age. She and her husband were childhood sweethearts and married when she was 16. The importance of teamwork was taught in both of their homes; they have followed this same method in their marriage.

Norton is one of four children. Her older brother Les Smith and younger siblings Peggy Pepper and Tony Smith have brought their parents 10 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.

The 67-year-old remembers the hard work her parents put in for the family.

Her dad served in the Navy in World War II. He came back home and worked in the city after two years of service. “Daddy’s motto was ‘What’s right is right. What’s wrong is wrong,’ and Momma was a good cook,” she said. “We’re still a very close knit family.”

Norton said times were hard back then, but her parents worked together to make things work. Everyone pitched in to do chores while her dad worked most of the time.

“They taught us to love, that’s the main thing,” she said. “They made sure we attended church every Sunday. If they couldn’t go, they had someone to pick us up.”

These are the same qualities Norton has followed with three children who are now raising their own children.

The Smiths still live in the same Brookhaven home they raised their children in. Norton says all her siblings have stepped in to help take care of their parents.

Her mother will be 88 in July and her dad will be 93 Wednesday.