by Clyde Whitaker
Hello again everyone! Since February is the Month of Love, with Valentine’s Day on the 14th, I thought I would write a love story about some friends of mine who will be married 66 years on July 14, 2023!
Mark and Arloa (Proctor) Smith came into my life in the winter of 1972. I was driving over to my girlfriend’s house in Plainfield when it happened. Turning to go toward Plainfield, my car slid off the road and went into a muddy field, mud all the way up to my floorboards!
There was no way I was going to get the car unstuck, so I walked up to Mark and Arloa’s house, which was adjacent to the muddy field. I asked if they had a tractor that could pull my car from the mud. I told them I was headed to my girlfriend’s house in Plainfield. Arloa immediately asked “what is your girlfriend’s name?” I told her and she nodded her head, but said nothing further. I later found out that my girlfriend’s dad was the best man for Mark and Arloa’s wedding! Anyway, they had no tractor but Mr. Bachelor, on the farm down the road, had a tractor and he pulled me out.
Back to Mark and Arloa. In the spring of 1956, Arloa caught the eye of Mark when she would walk the town square in Stockbridge on her lunch hour. Arloa worked at the D & C store and frequently took walks past the Cobb-Scherer building, where Mark worked as a mechanic. Mark eventually asked Arloa Proctor out on a date. Their first date was July 14, 1956, at the Lake Lansing amusement park in Lansing.
By Christmastime, Mark’s thoughts had turned to marriage. I asked Arloa if Mark had gotten down on his knees when he proposed to her. With a little smirk, she said no, but he did give her an engagement ring that Christmas of 1956. Were Arloa’s parents concerned at all about the proposal, since she was only 20 years old at the time? Arloa said no, they weren’t concerned, and the only thing that her mother said was “he smokes.” (That was then, but Mark has not smoked in years.)
They were married on July 14, 1957, exactly one year after their first date. Mark’s best man was Max Cosgray, and Arloa’s maid of honor was Susy Thompson Voss. The special event took place at the Walker house, located at Carter Road and M-52, north of Stockbridge. Arloa said her father was a farmer, and they chose the Walker house, instead of a church wedding, to save on expenses.
This July 14, 2023, will mark 66 years of marriage. The Smiths have one daughter, Deborah, and she blessed them with two grandkids, Brittany Codero and Alexandria Davis. They also have two great-grandsons, Enzo and Emory Codero.
Arloa worked over 40 years in the insurance industry. Mark spent the better part of 70 years working on New Holland balers, and became known areawide as “The New Holland Baler Man.” In addition, he worked other mechanic jobs.
Mark’s hobbies have included golf plus his mechanical work. Arloa enjoys cooking, reading and puzzles. She has been a member of the Millville United Methodist Church in Millville for many years. The couple likes to recall a big trip that took place in 2003, when Mark and Arloa treated the family to an all-expenses-paid trip to Florida.
Asked about their secret to a long marriage, the Smiths said you have to give and take, you’ve got to agree with each other, and figure in lots of conversation and traveling.
This my friends, is love that is lasting a lifetime!
Clyde Whitaker is a 1973 Stockbridge graduate. He and his wife, Mary, raised four children in Stockbridge, and they still reside in the Stockbridge area.