Editor’s note: The Beacon is delighted to join in the celebration of Marvena and Ernest Beasley’s 77th wedding anniversary on March 31, by sharing the Pierson couple’s memories with the community, as part of our West Volusia Memories series.

The Beasleys, ages 97 and 98, corresponded with The Beacon to say how much they have enjoyed reading the historical offerings we’ve published about DeLeon Springs, which they remember fondly from their youth.

Marvena, 97, wrote, “I have pictures of my mom and dad swimming in DeLeon Springs before I was born in DeLand in 1923. The Old Sugar Mill wheel was turning then, and water-skiing elephants were an attraction. We came over on picnics a lot when Ernest and I dated, while attending Mainland High School in Daytona Beach.”

Now, she said, their grandson brings his family from Chicago each year to visit the spring.

“They say they enjoy it, and hope it will continue and be there always, and so do we,” Marvena Beasley added.

At The Beacon’s request, Marvena Beasley wrote up some of her memories of the couple’s 77 years together, and their daughter-in-law Joyce Beasley provided additional information.

 Unbelievable! God gave us 77 years together! So much to be thankful for.

We tried to teach our children to love each other, and find the good in this world, and to help others if they could.

It all started in Daytona Beach at Mainland High School, in Mr. Jolly’s American-history class. Ernest had a cute smile, and was “Mr. Beasley” in the B’s, ahead of Miss Marvena Hatcher in the H’s, he said.

Our first date was a movie in the afternoon. I rode on the handlebars of his bicycle to get there. I was small enough to get in for 10 cents, the price of a child’s admission.

He worked some after school, and delivered telegrams across the river on his bicycle in all kinds of weather.

We enjoyed picnics at DeLeon Springs, Sanlando Springs (now gone), and on the beach, with classmates.

On the beach, we had bonfires and toasted hot dogs and marshmallows, and we had a ukulele band. We sang and danced around.

It was great to go on hayrides around the Loop in Ormond Beach.

We went to an ice-cream shop for milkshakes, where Ernest worked some in the summertime. We got two big glasses of milkshake for 10 cents.

We went to a skating rink in Orlando with our classmates.

My mother was mad when I came home late one night, and told me I could not see him anymore.

Earnest was on the baseball team, and they played Pierson and lost the ball down a gopher hole. He batted .500 then.

We both graduated from Mainland High School in June 1941. Our 80th class reunion is coming up in June.

I went to Atlanta Grady Hospital for three years, and became a registered nurse in 1944, along with 23 others. Ernest and I married March 31, 1944, even though we were not supposed to.

Ernest went to Newport News Shipbuilding School in Virginia before being drafted into the Navy and assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Boxer, which he had helped build, which was getting ready for the invasion of Japan.

Ernest went all over the world, and while he was traveling his first son was born: Marvin, in October 1945. Marvin was six months old before his father first saw him.

Ernest was a machinist’s mate and worked in the engine room on the Boxer. He has asbestos problems because of it.

He was discharged April 26, 1946, and is a plank owner from the original USS Boxer because he helped build it.

Ernest went to work for Florida Power & Light, which he retired from after 32 years. The company was good to us, and he worked all over the state.

More children were born, all at Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach: Karen in 1948, Richard in 1951, and Kevin in 1956.

My mother worked at Halifax Hospital in the 1930s, and I learned to skate on the driveway there as a child, while visiting her.

My mother left us a house in Pierson where my great-grandmother Charlotte Cade had lived in the 1920s and ‘30s.

We bought land on Horn Lake, near where my great-great-grandparents had started the first school in Pierson. We took our children there to swim and fish and enjoy being outside, and built our home there, where we still live today.

Our son Kevin and his wife, Joyce, built their home and live near us. Their son Jacob and his wife, Kelsey, and their children Skylar, Payton and Gavin, live near us, as do Richard, our granddaughter and her husband Krystal and Daniel Stricker, as well as their children D.J. and Ashlyn.

It is quiet and peaceful, and we are thankful we have family around us.

Marvena and Ernest met in school in 1936 and later went to church together. Both were students at Mainland High School, and they attended their junior and senior proms together in 1940 and 1941.

On Jan. 1, 1942, Ernest left for apprentice school and Marvena went off to nursing school in Atlanta.

From 1942 to 1944, Ernest worked 55 to 60 hours a week, earning $15 a week. In 1944, Marvena went to Virginia to visit Ernest where he was working in the shipyards. Ernest had just gotten his 1-A papers, stating he was being drafted into the Navy, and he knew he would be leaving soon.

He decided he wanted to marry his high-school sweetheart, so they drove across the state line to South Mills, North Carolina, and were married March 31, 1944, by the justice of the peace.

Ernest was in the Navy from June 1944 to April 1946, serving on the aircraft carrier USS Boxer, which he had helped to build in Newport News.

After the military, the couple moved to Daytona Beach. Ernest worked for 32 years for Florida Power & Light, retiring March 31, 2012. On March 31, 2021, they will have been married for 77 years.

During their years together, they have traveled across the United State and abroad, alone and with family members.

They both enjoy farming. Ernest ran a fern business for approximately 40 years, and Marvena loves planting flowers. Ernest also enjoys vegetable gardening and has helped supply fresh vegetables to the family.

They still, to this day, have family breakfast together with their sons on Sundays. They have eight grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren.

Ernest said he learned a long time ago the secret to a happy marriage is to answer “Yes, dear.” And Marvena says, “Never go to bed mad at each other.”

— Joyce Beasley


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