Their love story is a remarkable one, steeped in quiet moments, mutual respect, fishing tales, church meetings and raising children – but the real secret to Coriel and William Powery’s soulmate success over the years is living their lives based on Biblical principles.
“Keep peaceful, be honest. He never found fault in me, and I didn’t find none in him.
“Divorce or separation never ever entered my mind no matter what happened, or anything so bad, there was never no talk of leaving each other,” said Coriel. “In fact, I hated the word divorce. For two people to really make it in a relationship, both must be dedicated and both must believe in God,” she said.
The couple celebrated 70 years of marriage on Tuesday, 11 January, with family and friends. Coriel is 92 and William is 93.
The two were wed in a little house ceremony, not far from where they grew up in Boatswain Bay, West Bay, but the love they found in each other over the years still burns bright today.
“He’d see me, I’d see him and he’d just say hello. I was just so excited because his friends would jokingly say to him, she is the most beautiful girl out of the whole lot,” said Coriel, clearly recalling how she used to blush when William passed her on his way to church meetings.
They were married in 1941, after courting for a few years.
“He would always say he wanted us to get something in life before we got married and I respected him for that,” said Coriel seeking her husband’s approval. The couple went on to have seven children.
“He has been fun, a good husband and loving father who looked out for and enjoyed the company of his children,” she said, as William nods his head.
“Them days I was 18 or 19, we got married at 22, by then we had saved enough money to pay the minster to get married in a house wedding. One thing we didn’t do before we were married and that was run around like wild people.
“We worked and waited for the right time,” added Coriel. “There were kitchen and pan dances, but I did not go. William was always by my side and stood up for me no matter what.”
After the couple married, Coriel set about raising the children and William headed out to sea.
“I kept faithful and lived by the Bible for love and long standing in the marriage. I could not dishonest my husband and I think that must have kept him going because he always trusted me and I trusted him to come home.”
Coriel remembers waiting many times at the airport with the children for William’s return and cried when it was time for him to go.
“I asked him one time if he ever cried and he said, ‘That’s what you think, I get home sick a lot of times’.”
On one occasion William’s plane did not come and the family made the trip back to West Bay disappointed, but the boys were quite sure that daddy was coming that day. “I was less optimistic, said Coriel. Later on it was a joyous reunion for the family when someone shouted William had arrived. “We were so happy to see him,” said Coriel.
During William’s absence at sea, Coriel raised the children with the money William sent home and supplemented the tiny income by planting crops such as beans, pumpkins, cassava, melons yams and corn and raised chickens in the yard. At one time the yard was just overrun with pumpkin, she said. When William came home he did the fixing of the house, cleared the yard for more planting and helped to raise the children.
“It was a happy time those days, we had enough to eat and live comfortable.”
Working on national bulk carriers, William did not forget about his family back home. During that time, William and Coriel exchanged lots of love letters. Today when the family gathers for fellowship, the couple’s caretaker Merle, pulls out the letters from an old bag and starts to read.
“This gets them smiling,” she said. “William’s memory is not as sharp as his wife Coriel, but whatever he fails to remember Coriel jogs his memory and that gets him blushing. William also loves to sing his favourite song, ‘If he Brings you Happiness’, which always gets Coriel smiling.
Like most Caymanian men in bygone years, a fisherman by trade, William travelled to Mosquito Key to catch turtles. “I caught a big greenie one time and got the turtle eggs,” he said, as a huge grin lit his face, Then he quickly adds, “We were always careful not to over-fish and have our fishing permits in order for the Nicaraguan enforcement.”
Today William’s job is only to care and spend time with his dear Coriel, whom he cherishes very much. The children are all grown and Coriel gives him a wrap-around hug and a kiss on the cheek.