Lifelong sweethearts

A love story 73 years young...

At 15 years old a young Bill Pate asked his sister if she knew any nice gals, little did he know then that he would be introduced to his future bride. Bill's sister had just the girl for him...sweet Nora Belle. On their first date Bill proclaimed he never wanted to get married, but after meeting her he knew she was the one. In their early years of dating Bill was living in Indiana. He would set out in his two door 42 Dodge time and time again, driving back and forth for hours to Illinois just to see Nora Belle.

William "Bill" and Nora Belle married on April 28th, 1949 at the Assembly of God in Henderson, Ky. Afterwards they held a small cake and punch reception in Audubon Park. Born just one day apart, Bill likes to joke now that he married an older woman. Nora Belle shakes her head, laughs, and states he always has all the jokes. "He is always joking, or laughing, or singing some silly little tune." At this Bill burst into his favorite hymn, "Come on in", and they hold hands in their side-by-side chairs humming along together.

After they were first married Bill worked in the oil fields, and Nora Belle at the dress factory in Centralia, IL. Bill later became a pastor, and Nora Belle a homemaker raising 5 children. Being a pastor meant they moved from place to place over the years. From New Harmony, In, to West Plains, Mo, to Breese, Il, and eventually settling in Beckemeyer, Il. That family has grown quite a bit since the early years together. Bill and Nora Belle have been blessed with 12 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren, and 4 great great grandchildren.

Nora Belle has always been the early riser in the house, she says she wakes up a couple hours before him each morning to drink her coffee. While Bill likes to stay up later than her, he is sure to go to the kitchen each evening to get her coffee maker ready for the morning, "this way all she has to do is push that little button". He says she has always been the better cook, and she laughs and nods her head in agreement. Bill's favorites are her beef stew and potato salad. It's easy to see they are quite the team.

When asked what they did for fun when they were first married, they both replied, " we both just worked a lot!" In later years they took up the hobby of restoring old cars, showing them, and they still continue to do so. They were quick to climb into the front seat of their 1927 Chevy laughing the whole way. "It used to be a lot easier for us to get in this old thing didn't it?" Bill asks Nora Belle and she giggles in agreement. You would never know they are both getting ready to celebrate their 92nd birthdays. Younger at heart than most half their age, Bill is still fast to wrap an arm around his girl and give her a kiss in the front seat.

When asked what the secret to a lifelong married is, what is their advice to young couples starting out?

Smiling they both firmly replied, " Go to church and find Jesus. Also, a lot of prayers over the years. Philippians 4:19 God will supply all your needs."

73 years after their big day, they finally were able to take some wedding photos, and we are so glad they did.

Bill and Nora Belle are already looking forward to celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2024!

A huge thank you to Flower Girl for donating a gorgeous bouquet of flowers to this sweet couple,

and to Crooked Creek Winery for helping Amanda & Co. Photo in the search for the longest married couple in our community.

Congratulations Bill and Nora Belle!