Lifelong lovebirds: Six decades of valentines

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By Laura Lewis, Reporter

GRISSETTOWN — For lifelong lovebirds Bill and Joan Hoyle, every day is Valentine’s Day.

That’s saying a lot for the Brunswick County couple, who have been married for nearly 60 years and have known each other since childhood.

“We met when I was 7 and he was 10,” Joan Hoyle said as the couple, wearing matching red shirts in celebration of the upcoming 2014 edition of Valentine’s Day, relaxed at their home.

Back in their native Providence, R.I., “he lived two houses from my aunt — the other side of Providence,” Joan said.

When she was 12, Joan’s family home burned down and she went to stay with her aunt.

“I got to hang out in Bill’s neighborhood, and we were hanging out together,” Joan said. Bill worked at a carnival across the street from his house, “pitching pennies,” they recalled.

Six years later, Joan and her sister went to church where Bill was an altar boy, “and we noticed each other,” she said.

The two were also both at scout camp — she in the Girl Scouts, he in the Boy Scouts — on Aug. 14, 1945, when World War II ended at armistice (V-J Day).

“The ironic thing is we got married on Aug. 14, in ’54,” she said.

They attended separate schools in their teens, but eventually reunited.

“My sister was having a formal Christmas dance at her nursing school in the neighborhood (where Bill was born),” Joan said. “She wanted me to go to it and told me to ask Bill. I said, ‘What?!’ You didn’t (ask guys out) in the ‘50s.”

But she was a “maverick and an artist,” and he said yes.

Joan’s sister’s boyfriend and eventual husband was Dr. Bob Farrelly. Her sister and brother-in-law are the parents of the world-famous movie-making duo, the Farrelly Brothers.

“Their marriage lasted almost 59 years when (Bob) passed away this past October,” Joan said.

Soon after Joan and Bill started dating, Bill entered the Air Force. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, when he went with a grammar-school friend from Providence to buy Joan’s rings.

“Bill mailed it to me from there, and I went to the post office in North Attleboro (Mass.), where I lived,” she said. “I was thrilled when I saw it and wanted to kiss the postman. It was an engagement and wedding ring, and mine.”

They married on the ninth anniversary of V-J day.

“Bill calls it Victory over Joan,” Joan said.

Bill worked for the FAA in airport communication and navigation equipment. Joan was a housewife but also an artist and photographer. The Hoyles owned a studio, the Picture Window, in Rhode Island and won awards.

The Hoyles have three children and eight grandchildren living in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Texas.

They moved to Brunswick County 10 years ago and are active in the community, including serving as Santa and Mrs. Claus at Christmastime, taking singing lessons and taking part in the local camera club.

With their 60th anniversary just six months away, “We’ve had some rough times, but we did not live together before marriage,” Joan said. “We have never cheated on each other in the 60 years.”

Bill said that’s one of the secrets for how they’ve made it so long.

They enjoy taking part in activities, including Joan’s art and her husband’s willingness to pose for that art.

“He’s a model husband — he’s my model,” she said.

Over the years, Bill has survived a plane crash, and Joan has survived having her tires shot out by a robber when she was snapping photographs for a newspaper in Rhode Island.

Another one of their secrets is lots of laughter.

“I still laugh at his jokes — he still makes me laugh,” Joan said, laughing.


Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.