Their milestone was recognized Thursday by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who held a reception honoring 10 of the state's longest married couples who were inducted into Louisiana Family Forum's Marriage Hall of Fame. The Players were unable to attend, but Louisiana Family Forum will host a Valentine's Day reception at the couple's home in Benton Saturday.
Husband Lawrence Player is now 101 and wife Varrie Player is 95. Though the couple decided not to observe their Jan. 27 anniversary with a large family gathering as they have anniversaries past, they did mark the occasion by imparting some wisdom on what's made their marriage so longstanding.
"All you have to do is be loyal toward each other. Make sure you agree on the things you are doing. Be loyal, and when you plan to do or build something, both need to come along in agreement," Lawrence said, seated next to his wife in the living room of their Benton home where they've lived more than 50 years.
The home is one street over from the church where they met. They were married in 1935 at Varrie's mother's home nearby on Highway 160 outside of town. Varrie was 16 and Lawrence was 21.
The Players claim they've never had a fight in 80 years.
Husband Lawrence Player is now 101 and wife Varrie Player is 95. They live across from the Benton church where they met. (Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
"I might have been quarrelsome, but we never had a fight or fuss. I've never had a lick. He's never hit me," Varrie said, wearing a red suit to match her husband's red shirt worn under overalls, a tribute to Valentine's Day.
The couple's youngest daughter, Barbara Player, lives next door to her parents. She can't recall one argument between them, though she admits it's hard to believe there wasn't even at least one that happened in private.
Asked for the secret to a happy and successful union, Lawrence said it's important to treat the other person how you want to be treated.
Lawrence and Varrie Player have been married for 80 years.
"I haven't had a fight or an argument with anyone all my life. I just know how to treat people. I've had nothing but friends all the way through," he said.
Lawrence said his wife's mother made him promise he'd never become angry and hit Varrie, and that if he ever tired of her, he'd send her home.
"I never got tired of her," he said.
According to Barbara, Varrie has cooked three meals a day for Lawrence since they were married, which has kept him happy.
"And I mean cook. She doesn't open a can of something. She cooks — even makes homemade biscuits," she said.
Lawrence said he told Varrie before they were married that if she cooked his lunch and kept his clothes clean, "that's all she has to do. And that's what she done."
The couple's youngest son, Oscar Player, now the pastor at New Light Methodist Church where his parents met, said, from observing his parents, he has learned treating others with kindness goes a long way.
"And no matter how tough times become, you still can make it. You can survive," he said.
The Player union in 1935 has built a legacy of nearly 100 — 9 children, 37 grandchildren, 58 great grandchildren and 5 great-great grandchildren.
Barbara said the family's success has been in the way her parents have approached their marriage.
"I learned from them how to love. They taught us we need to treat people like we want them to treat us," she said. "That, and I guess it was prayer."
The Louisiana Family Forum honored Louisiana's longest-married couples during a special reception at the Governor's Mansion in Baton Rouge on Thursday.
The five honorees, married 72 years and above, in attendance were: George and Laura Harris, of Baton Rouge; Joseph and Felicie Rogillio, of Rosedale; Charles and Rita Serio, of Morganza; Arnold and Olga Jones, of Junction City; and Charles and Helen Simon of Mansura. Lawrence and Varrie, of Benton, did not attend.
“You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching, Love like you'll never be hurt, Sing like there's nobody listening, And live like it's heaven on earth.” - William W. Purkey -Photos taken at Flower Power florist in Shreveport. (Photo: Henrietta Wildsmith/The Times)
Your Roving Reporter