Towards the end of World War II, two Georgia lovebirds went across the border to Centre, Alabama to wed in a secret ceremony. Over 70 years later, they’re still together.
Rachel Banister was only 16 years old when she married her high school sweetheart Charles Bargainner. They met after Charles moved to Rome to play football at Boys High. Rachel was a basketball player at Girls High and was only 15 when she met her future husband.
At the time, it was illegal for someone to get married while they were still in high school and Rachel hadn’t finished her senior exams. However, the couple couldn’t wait and got married on May 8, 1945, the same day the Germans surrendered in World War II.
Despite the controversial early marriage, the Bargainners have been inseparable ever since. After Charles served two years in the Navy during the war, the couple settled in Lindale, where Charles started a Chevron service station with his father-in-law.
Rachel got a job with the Department of Commerce and Census Bureau and traveled all across the Southeast.
Together, the couple have two daughters, Charla and Beth, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
After retirement, they traveled all across the United States and even flew to Alaska and Hawaii. Because of this venture, the couple can say they have camped in every continental U.S. state.
Rachel’s mobility began to suffer after a back injury, leading the couple to move into Winthrop Senior Living Assisted Living and Memory Care.
On Friday, the couple celebrated 75 years of marriage surrounded by friends and family, all 6 feet apart.