Love’s Promise Yields Eight Decades Of Matrimony

By  //  April 11, 2013

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Couple Celebrates 71st Wedding Anniversary

BREVARD COUNTY • MERRITT ISLAND, FLORIDA – Love’s enduring promise has kept a couple together longer than most could imagine.

Phyllis and Tyree Harris celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary and Tyree’s 91st birthday at La Casa Assisted Living on Merritt Island. (Image courtesy of La Casa Assisted Living)

Tyree and Phyllis Harris celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary as well as Tyree’s 91st birthday in February and say they are ready for more wonderful years of marriage.

Tyree Harris grew up in Kentucky on the outskirts of Louisville.

Having joined the Boy Scouts, he would soon learn what a lucky man he was to be appointed as a patrol leader of the brother of his future bride-to-be, Phyllis Van Slyke.

The two became acquainted at Boy Scout meetings and ended up eloping a few years later.

They graciously celebrated Tyree’s 91st birthday and their 71st wedding anniversary at La Casa Assisted Living on Merritt Island on Feb. 28.

In 1942, when they were each 20-years-old, they sent a telegram to their families to inform them they’d just married. The train ride home from Columbia, Mo. was devoted to plotting what to say and do if anyone tried to part them.

It never came to pass.

Their parents stood waiting at the train station, heartily approving the match.

The parents of Phyllis approved, although she had skipped a dance performance (she had the lead role) opening night at Stephens College to get hitched.

Tyree’s parents were thrilled to have Phyllis in the family even though it meant Ty would leave behind his studies at University of Kentucky, along with his place on the swim and football teams there forever.

Tyree Harris served as the navigator on a PT boat in the South Pacific in World War II. (Shutterstock image)

World War II separated the couple temporarily as it did many in that day.

Tyree was sent to the South Pacific as a navigator on a PT boat.

The couple’s first two children, Sharon and Ty, were learning to walk and talk by the time their father returned from the war.

A homecoming baby named Bruce, soon followed, and later still another daughter, Sally.

These four children eventually gave made their parents grandparents of eight and great-grandparents of nine.

Tyree and Phyllis have lived on Merritt Island since the mid-1950s.

They are well known in the community as the owners of Ty Harris Buick and the Harris School of Dance.

Their lives have intertwined with the Indian River sailing community and Wuesthoff Hospital in Rockledge since moving here in those pre-astronaut days of wooden bridges and orange groves.

As one would expect, after 71 anniversaries and 91 birthdays, life has graced Tyree and Phyllis with an abundance of wonderful memories and experiences, amazing friends and a loving, cherished family.

When asked what the secret is to a long and happy marriage, Tyree became choked-up and a little teary.

He closed his eyes and sighed then looked up and just smiled.

“Damn good times,” he said.

The couple enjoyed a special party for their anniversary at La Casa Assisted Living.