Frank and Erla Jones celebrate 51 years of marriage
When Erla Jones was approached in the ninth grade by the entire football team, little did she know it would spark more than a half-century of love.
Frank, her husband today, sent the team to ask Erla to escort him during Andrews High School’s homecoming.
“I said to Frank, ‘Well, if you can’t ask me, I can’t say yes,’ ” Erla recounted. “He finally squeaked out, ‘Will you?’ And that was the start of everything.”
Erla said she realized that she loved Frank when she was a sophomore in high school. Frank, who was in the same grade as her, had left to work as a page in Raleigh for a short period of time.
“I was sitting at a program in the school’s auditorium, and all of a sudden I thought, ‘You know what I really like that boy, no I think I really love him,’ ” Erla said. “I think I really loved Frank always.”
Erla said Frank is a sweet, compassionate and caring person. She said they’ve never had an argument during their relationship because Frank is always quick to discuss issues and solve them.
After graduating from high school, Erla left to study at Berea College in Kentucky, while Frank went to Western Carolina University. During her sophomore year, Erla decided to transfer to Western.
Soon afterward, Frank was drafted into the U.S. Army during the middle of the Vietnam War. When he got out of Officer Candidate School, he received an order to leave for Ludwigsburg, Germany.
With only a four-day notice before Frank’s departure, the couple decided to get married. Erla said at the time couples had to wait three days before being married once they received their license.
“When he got his orders, he got the license,” she said. “The day we got married was our last day together before he left the next morning.”
The couple was married on March 15, 1967, at the old Andrews First Baptist Church, which today is the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center.
Despite having little time to pull the wedding together, Erla said a large crowd showed up, and she managed to have a wedding dress made.
She approached a local seamstress about making her dress in less than two days. She said since he didn’t have the fabric at the time, the seamstress took the cloth right off of his table and made the dress just in time for the wedding.
“It was made by Eugene Ledford, a little gentleman who had the fingers of an angel when it came to sewing,” Erla said.
Erla moved to Germany to live with Frank a couple of months after their wedding. Frank likes to say they had an 18-month honeymoon in Germany.
When Frank’s service ended in Germany, he traveled back with Erla to live in Andrews. Frank finished earning his business degree, then worked at his father’s company, Sam Jones Realty. Erla spent 43 years as a librarian at Andrews Elementary School.
Erla and Frank still live in Andrews, next door to their only child, Margaret Phillips. Next week, they will celebrate 51 years of marriage.
“What I love most about Erla is she’s easygoing and self-sufficient,” Frank said. “I love her dedication to her work and raising our child.”