Photo courtesy of the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Bill and Warren Fravert
Bill and Warren Fravert on their wedding day in 1950. This photo ran in the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Sunday paper.
It was April Fool’s Day 1949 when Bill Fravert proposed to his girlfriend, Warren, but after being married now 65 years, it’s clear it was no joke when the couple promised to love one another forever.
The Fraverts, now residents in the Danberry at Inverness senior living community, met while they were both students at the University of Louisville in December 1947. When asked how they got together, their responses were different.
“I chased him until he paid attention!” Warren said. “We dated three years before we got married, and we didn’t go steady. When he gave me his fraternity pin, he told me ‘Here’s something you’ve been wanting for a long time,’ although he swears he didn’t say that.”
Bill’s recollection was a little different.
“We were both attracted to one another,” Bill said. “She keeps saying she chased me until she caught me, and I guess she did.”
While Bill proposed April 1, neither of them realized it was April Fool’s Day, so it wasn’t mistaken for a joke. They had just graduated from the University of Louisville in January, and they married in October 1950. She was 24, and he was 29.
Had they gotten married as young as many people did in 1950, they could have been married more than 70 years by now.
Bill’s college education was delayed by his service in the military. He was attending the University of Louisville in November 1942 when he signed up for the Air Force. He was called up in February 1943. He started out as an aviation student, but he lost a kidney due to an accident and had to leave the flying program.
Bill would later serve for 11 months as a radio operator in the China Burma India (CBI) Theater, on the beach at the Bay of Bengal, which is modern-day Bangladesh. He tracked flights for the U.S. Army Air Corps going from India to China in early 1944 after D-Day.
Bill came back to the University of Louisville, where he met Warren. After graduation, they married on Oct. 14, 1950, in their hometown of Louisville.
“When we got married, we didn’t have any money,” Warren said. “I borrowed my dress from a friend of mine, and my shoes were white satin bedroom slippers. We were married at the First Unitarian Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and had our reception at the American Legion Post. All we had was punch, beer and little sandwiches.”
Life through the years
The couple lived in Louisville for 12 years, then in Columbus, Ohio, for another 12 before moving to Alabama in 1974.
Bill worked for Detroit Diesel-Allison in the service and sales department until his retirement in 1991. Warren worked for 30 years — from 1978-2008 — as a real estate agent for what is known today as RealtySouth. They also raised three children, living at different times in Vestavia Hills, Riverchase and Caldwell Crossings before moving to Danberry at Inverness in June 2013.
Now 94 and 89, the Fraverts are both in good health. Bill does suffer from macular degeneration and managed diabetes, and Warren has arthritis, but Warren often tells him they could be in a lot worse condition. They have outlived many of their friends and family and aren’t sure why.
“The only bad part about getting old is outliving friends and family you’d still like to have around,” Bill said.
The couple credits their health to staying active. They rode bicycles when they lived in Columbus, walked almost daily at Wald Park in Vestavia Hills and walked laps inside the Riverchase Galleria. When the Hoover Recreation Center opened, they were members there until moving to Danberry.
“Being active all the time has probably helped,” Warren said. “Bill uses the walker, and if I have to go far, I use a walker, too. We can’t really complain much about being this old.”
“Nothing strenuous but just continuous activity,” added Bill.
‘Look where we ended up’
The couple has also gotten involved in life at Danberry. They go to a chair exercise class every Friday. Bill goes to a discussion group on Wednesdays while Warren plays mahjongg. Warren served on the residential advisory council for two years and continues to volunteer at Danberry’s library. They enjoy happy hour and meeting their friends for dinner.
Their three children, now in their mid-to-late 50s, live nearby, and they spend time with them often. Bill said they’ve gotten a great deal of pleasure watching their kids grow in the business community. Their oldest child recently retired, and the couple couldn’t believe they were around long enough for that.
“We are blessed they’re happily married and they live close to us,” Warren said. “We are so lucky. It sounds cliché, but when we all get together, it’s one big happy family. We have such a good time together.”
When asked for words of wisdom on a long marriage, Warren said Bill “puts up with her” and Bill said he just “walks away.”
Warren said she and Bill have been fortunate throughout their life and enjoyed the years.
“We haven’t had what I would call an exciting life, but we’ve had a good life,” Warren said. “There have been no tragedies. We are so fortunate. Our three children have all done well. They’re all happily married. What more can you ask? We didn’t know where we were going, and look where we ended up.”