They met at a dance in December 1966, were married on July 8, 1967, and the song hasn’t stopped for more than 50 years now.
If you’ve lived in Halls long enough, or go to any of the ballroom dances at the area senior centers, chances are you know Millie and Ed Norris. And if you’re from North Knox or Union counties, you might be related to one of them, if the surnames Arnold, Beeler, Cox or McManus, just to name but a few, create a branch on your family tree.
It was the second marriage for both, but Ed took to Millie’s four boys like his own child, Gregory Earl Norris. If you live in Halls, chances are you know one of the Vandergriffs — Mike, Greg, Doug and Chris (better known as “Coach V” to at least two generations of students at Halls High).
When they were starting a life together, Mille’s parents, Page and Birdie Bledsoe, gave them the land. Ed built the family home.
“He took us all in and provided for us,” Millie says, “and I can truthfully say he has been a wonderful stepfather to the boys.”
Greg and wife Susan got the idea to throw Millie and Ed a 50th anniversary celebration at Christ Church last Saturday, and most all the family that could showed up, along with a host of friends. The Norris’s have 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
“We’re just so thankful for our family. We love them all.”
Music has been a part of this story since it began. Not only do Millie and Ed dance, but Ed sang Irving Berlin’s “Always” that day in July when Millie walked down the aisle at Salem Baptist Church to say, “I do.” He’d honed those vocal skills while singing with the U.S. Army’s 9th Division Chorus. Millie was a member of the inaugural band at Halls High School in 1948.
They used to joke about Baptists frowning on dancing, but Millie said it was OK, ’cause her Mom and Dad went with Ed and her to long-ago Appalachian square dances in Lenoir City.
“Now we’re Methodists, so we don’t have to worry about it!” she joked.
These days, you can find them most every month at the ballroom dances at the Halls and John T. O’Connor senior centers.
Millie and Ed have been true Tennessee volunteers, too. You name it, they’ve done it.
Millie is a former Halls Woman of the Year and received the Halls Women’s League’s Volunteer of the Year Award, which is given to the member who logs the most volunteer hours during the year. Her scrapbooks are literally a part of Halls history. Ed’s usually right there with her, and especially enjoys working on dollhouses and other toys they either give to their great-grandchildren or auction off for charity.
“I just never dreamed that Ed and I would live long enough to have 50 years together, because this was a second marriage for us both, and we were in our early 30s. I just feel like God sent him to me, and Ed says he feels like God sent me to him.”
But make it they have, and together the dance continues, marvelous music made arm-in-arm. “Not just for an hour,” the song says, “and not just for a day; not just for a year, but always…”
Visit Jake Mabe at http://jakemabe.blogspot.com