70 and counting; Love carries Renshaws through the years

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, February 10, 2018

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Sis and Sam Renshaw. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The first time Sam Renshaw saw Thelma Jo Wren she was playing a tennis match in the early 1940s, when they were both in high school.

Thelma Jo, who’s perhaps better known by her nickname, Sis, thought he was “kind of cute,” but the two didn’t talk long.

“I thought, ‘There’s a cutie,'” said Sam, who was maybe slightly more infatuated than Sis. “She was wearing tennis shorts. She was a pretty girl.”

Being from different towns – Sam lived in Decatur and Sis lived in Rhome – that could have been the end of that. And it was for a while. Sam went on to join the Marines, serving in the South Pacific in World War II, while Sis went to school at Texas Women’s College (now Texas Women’s University). After Sam’s service ended, he came back home to Decatur. Sis was in town visiting a friend, and so Sam asked her on a date to the Whistle Stop Cafe.

“I liked him,” Sis said. “I don’t know that it was love at first sight. But he wrote me letters when I was in college.”

“You fell in love the first time you saw me, didn’t you?” she asked Sam, who laughed.

“When I came back from the service I was going to go back and finish college, but then I met her,” he said. “I had my eye on her, and things started getting serious.”

Just Like Old Times

JUST LIKE OLD TIMES – Sis and Sam Renshaw sit at a table at Whistle Stop Cafe, where they went on their first date more than 70 years ago. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Although Sam had a year and a half worth of credits from an agricultural college in Arlington before the war, he decided to follow Sis to school and attended TWC on a basketball scholarship. The two continued to see each other, and it was during one of Sam’s many trips out of town for basketball games that Sis decided she loved him.

“I really missed him and I really realized I was kind of lost without him being around,” she said.

They started to talk about marriage, and eventually got engaged. Neither one remembers the details of their engagement, but Sam can recall the feeling of asking Sis’s father, Joe Wren, permission to marry his daughter.

“I was scared to death,” he said.

The Renshaws married on April 2, 1947 – nearly 71 years ago – at the First Methodist Church in Decatur. According to their wedding announcement in the Messenger, it was “one of the loveliest weddings ever held in Decatur.” Sis walked down the aisle in a midnight blue suit, carrying a white Bible her grandfather gave her.

After their marriage, the couple lived briefly in Fort Worth while Sam finished school. They then moved back to Decatur and raised their three children. Sam worked for the city of Decatur as city secretary for more than 30 years.

“We’re both country kids, and Decatur has been our home since we’ve been married,” Sam said. “That’s something unusual.

“And she put up with me that whole time.”

A 70-year marriage is not always easy, and they disagree about the best way to preserve love over time – Sam said you have to keep your wife happy, and Sis said you need to let your husband think he’s in charge.

“I usually got my way,” she added with a laugh.

But in the home they’ve lived in for more than 60 years, there hangs a painting of the Whistle Stop Sam bought for Sis, a reminder of when their relationship first began 70-plus years ago.

“Your love is pretty tested when you live this long,” Sis said. “You really have to love someone to live with them. But as you grow older, you have to rely on each other. I think it draws you closer together.”

Although they joke about having to put up with each other, they’re settled in their love.

“What I like about him is he’s always been kind of laid back,” Sis said. “He’s never been impatient like I am. He never did like to argue, and sometimes I like to argue.”

“I’d always lose,” Sam interjected, then added, “You don’t complain too much when you get mad at me.

“She’s a pretty girl, and I still love her like yesterday.”

One Response to “70 and counting; Love carries Renshaws through the years”

  1. Wonderful story great , that you two look so healthy and happy!!
    Sam you have always been a man that I have been privileged to know,
    Best C.O. Ever.
    Thanks and best wishes.


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