When looking for an example of time-tested love, look no further than local Visalia couple Jack and Beverly Irvine. Married in 1953, they will be celebrating their 71st anniversary on February 7th.
Jack Irvine met Beverly “Bev” Hillyard at Sacramento City College, fall semester of 1951. Jack first encountered Bev at an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship meeting. “She was effortlessly beautiful”, Jack remarks, “It wasn’t too long before I asked her to accompany me to a basketball game.”
A senior at the time, Jack’s interest in teaching English abroad in Afghanistan led him to study linguistics at Wycliffe’s SIL in Oklahoma followed by the Rackham Graduate School of Linguistics in Michigan to earn his graduate degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.
Bev, a freshman, continued her studies at Sacramento City College with the goal of earning her degree towards Early Child Development.
While many states apart, Jack wrote heartfelt letters to Beverly. In their correspondence they found love. Bev remarks that Jack’s sense of humor and charming personality shone through his letters.
The Christmas of 1952 Jack taxied a car from Detroit back to California with a special gift for Bevelry in tow - a beautiful set of amethyst necklace and earrings. In his letters he had been hinting to ask for her hand in marriage and now that he was headed to Afghanistan to teach English, he wanted to propose.
However it seemed that things got lost in translation during their time together that Christmas. “He thought he had asked me to marry him,” recalled Beverly, “I didn’t get that idea at all!”
It was Beverly’s turn to be stunned herself when Jack wrote her a letter asking that she accompany him to Afghanistan. “I told him I would only go if we were married first,” said Beverly. They were married February 7th, 1953. Three weeks later they were on a propeller-driven airplane to Kabul, Afghanistan.
Over the years the couple had four children and taught in many countries around the world. They then returned to California, where Jack was a foreign student advisor at Sacramento State and Merritt College.
Beverly achieved her AA degree in Early Child Development along with her credentials teaching Orff and Kodaly music systems to preschool and kindergarten children till 2020; retiring at the age of 85. The couple moved to Visalia to be closer to family in 2020. Their family now also includes six grandchildren and three great grandchildren with two more on the way.
The couple now reside at Park Visalia and the community will be hosting a vow renewal ceremony on Saturday, February 10th at 2:30pm. Their family will be in attendance along with their neighbors and friends at Park Visalia.
When asked what their secret is to a long lasting marriage spanning 71 years?
“Compromise when you can, never go to bed mad at each other, and always put God first.”