Rosie Marleyne Baker needed to get rid of a suitor before she could spend time with Robert Barnes.
Around 1954, Rosie's family went to a church in Warren, near their home between Warren and Hermitage, on Sunday mornings and then went to one in Wilmar on Sunday afternoons.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “I thought he was my man if I never got him. He had dark hair and gray eyes and he was tall and slim. He didn’t weigh but about 120 pounds.”
He says: “She had another boyfriend.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “When we came back we stopped at Lake Village and ate lunch. My uncle paid for all of it.”
He says: “It was Christmas Eve night. We went to church that night and after church we went home. I remember my brothers and sisters were shooting fireworks right under my bedroom window.”
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: “Put Jesus first.”
He says: “We’ve seen our ups and we’ve seen our downs. Shortly after we were married we got called into the ministry. We started out in the ministry in 1965 and that has been our life and that has helped us along the way. We’ve enjoyed it.”
She was just 14 when she first saw Robert in the Wilmar church.
"I told this guy that I was going with -- I was trying to make it so he would leave me alone -- 'You see that tall, dark, handsome guy over yonder?' He said, 'Which one?' I said, 'That one with black hair, over there.' He said, 'Yeah. What about him?' and I said, 'That's my man if I never get him,'" Rosie says. "That made him mad."
In August 1955, Rosie's brother mentioned to her that he thought Robert might want to go out with her, and he suggested that she write him a letter inviting him and his sisters to a youth rally at their church the following Saturday.
"I didn't know his address," she says. "All I knew was that he was in Wilmar, Ark., so that's what I put on the envelope."
Robert, who is four years older than Rosie, got her letter.
He drove to Warren that Saturday to see her.
"My brother was helping him look for me," she says. "But I was in a store with my mother and they didn't find me and he went back home."
The next day, Rosie's family went to the Saline River to watch a baptism. They stopped at a store on the way back to church.
"My brother was in the store. I noticed my brother kept staying and kept staying and kept staying," Rosie says. "My mother told me to go in there and tell him we were going to walk down to the church."
Robert, who had stopped there to ask for directions to her house, was in the store, too. He came out with Rosie's brother, who suggested that Rosie ride to the church with Robert.
Robert stayed for the worship service. When it was over he asked Rosie's mother if he could drive Rosie home.
Her little brother decided to ride home with them.
"He started to get in the back and someone had put a cat in the backseat," says Rosie, who insists she has no idea who did that.
Robert came back to Rosie's house often after that Sunday.
"It got to where he was at my house every weekend -- every other day, almost," she says.
By December, it was clear that they were in it for the long haul.
"We were just talking about how much we loved one another and how we felt like we had met the right one," Rosie says. "We were just talking about different things and one of us said something about spending our lives with someone. I said, 'I'd like to spend my life with you,' and he said, 'Well, I'd like to spend mine with you.'"
They couldn't legally marry in Arkansas until Rosie was 16, so they made plans to marry in June 1956, following her next birthday.
"But then the more we were together the more we wanted to rush it up," she says.
Robert had to muster the right amount of courage to ask Rosie's mother if he could marry Rosie.
"We felt like we were the ones for each other. We didn't want to waste time. We wanted to be together," he says.
He stood in a doorway as he made the request, maybe so he could be ready to run if need be. They wanted to get married in Greenville, Miss., where they could legally exchange their vows before Rosie turned 16, with her mother's permission. Rosie's mother gave her blessing and asked Rosie's uncle if he would drive them to Greenville.
Rosie's mother and uncle and her brother, who was dating Robert's cousin at the time, went with her and Robert to Greenville on Dec. 24, 1955.
Her uncle treated the wedding party to dinner at a cafe in Lake Village on the way home, and they made it home in time for the Christmas Eve worship service.
Rosie and Robert lived in Wilmar for a while, but Robert enlisted in the Army in 1959 and Rosie moved with him when he was stationed in Germany.
They joined the ministry in 1965, both becoming ordained ministers, and that endeavor took them to various appointments across the state. They moved from Hope to McGehee about 13 years ago.
Robert and Rosie have four children -- Robert Barnes of Carlisle, David Barnes of Sherwood, LaDeana Biddle of Greenbrier and Marl Barnes of Hope. They also have nine grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.
Rosie and Robert celebrated their 50th anniversary with a party at their church, Faith Pentecostal Church in McGehee.
"We've enjoyed it," Robert says of their long marriage. "I would do it again if I had to. I mean, I would do it again with her if I had to. I don't think I would do it again with anybody else."
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Rosie Baker and Robert Barnes exchanged their vows in Greenville, Miss. She wore a navy blue suit with white trim and white high heels, and he wore khaki pants and a pale pink shirt. “I spent half of my teenage life with him and all of my adult life so far,” Rosie says. “It’s been more than 60 years and it’s still working.”
High Profile on 03/04/2018
Print Headline: She ran boyfriend off and found future husband