Couple 91 and 86 take their vows at Natchez Senior Center

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 13, 2002

NATCHEZ &045; The bride wore white Š and walked with a cane.

The groom was a little hard of hearing, but he had no trouble with his cue to kiss the bride.

On Friday morning, Hester Givens, 86, married the Rev. Shead Howard, 91, at the Natchez Senior Center.

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The ceremony was a quick one. The Rev. Michael Hoggatt Sr. quoted a few scriptures regarding the duties of marriage, but he abstained from giving the couple any advice on their lives together.

Saying &uot;I do&uot; is old hat to Howard and Givens.

Howard had already been married twice, and Friday’s nuptials were No. 5 for Givens.

&uot;All of them passed,&uot; she said.

The newlyweds had been neighbors and friends for more than a dozen years before they got serious. Neither one could pinpoint the exact time when their relationship took a romantic turn. Rather, it sort of happened without their noticing. Eventually, they said, marriage just seemed like the next logical step.

&uot;I don’t know,&uot; Howard said. &uot;We got to talking Š and one conversation led to another.&uot;

When the time came to pop the question, Howard took the initiative. But while he is a traditionalist, he said he decided to forgo the whole bended-knee business.

&uot;No,&uot; he laughed, &uot;I didn’t get down at all.&uot;

As the two waited for the ceremony to begin, Howard appeared calm. Givens, although she had been through the drill many times before, admitted that she was, perhaps, a little nervous. &uot;I’ll be glad when it’s over,&uot; she said.

There were no cold feet, though, and not a moment of hesitation from either one as they exchanged vows.

Margaret Harveston, who works at the center, said such late-life love stories are surprisingly common. Several years ago, she said two octogenarians who had been high school sweethearts recognized each other at the center. After a bit of catching up, they tied the knot.

Hoggatt, on the other hand, said the ceremony Friday was a first for him.

&uot;This is definitely the oldest,&uot; he said. &uot;it really is.&uot;