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A Valentine to you from Johney and Mary

By Joyce Godwin Grubbs

Danita and Johney Cecil Marrs 1944 (
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February 9, 2010 - Nederland, Texas - ( - The war was over and “Johney Came marching home” from the Navy. His only girl at that time was his clingy little sister, Danita. Home was the little town of Morris, Oklahoma with a population of about two hundred. There was a movie house where you could go for a dime. It was there he saw the beautiful grey-eyed beauty for the first time leaving the movie house. The following Monday he and his uncle invited the beauty, Mary, and her sister to the movies. They had to survive the “mom” test for permission. She said yes, and interpreted that could have been, ‘On your mark, get set, go’.

Mary Gladys Hawk and Johney Cecil Marrs1947 (

The next two years, Mary claimed to have “chased” Johney as he dated others. Another version of the story is Johney would drive to Arkansas to see her on weekends when she moved away; sometimes he sat waiting until she returned from a date. They have a couple of friends to thank for inviting them to make it a “double wedding” spurring the proposal from Johney to Mary who recalls he said, “You want too?” and she said, “Sure." Sixty-two years later, they are still chasing each other.

Johney and Mary at McDonalds Opening (

According to Johney and Mary, doing ”the little things” kept them together .The first thirty years was children and Johney pitching fast pitch softball; the last thirty since retirement,  Johney and Mary  meet with retirees from his work, every day for breakfast and twice on Fridays. They meet at the Nederland, TX, McDonalds and were invited to the ribbon cutting when it reopened as a “state of the art” McDonalds last fall. Since 1990, they have played in a ukulele band at church practicing every Thursday and performing at nursing homes and churches.

Having three sons told Johney and Mary Marrs that it wasn’t always sunshine and roses. They had challenges, most recently with their son John’s brain cancer, which he is valiantly fighting like a “Marrs”. Mary has had illnesses but astounded the doctors after she had hip replacement. The physical therapist came for home care, only to find Mary was walking and responded, “Just fine, thank you very much”. Johney has “debilitating neuropathy” causing him to fall often so he wears braces on both legs; however, he still drives on long trips and daily tends his many flower and vegetable gardens.

During Hurricane Ike (2008), Johney and Mary were lost from the radar screen while trying to seek shelter several miles away, at a son’s house. A large tree fell on their home, their town was flooded and all communications went down. One need not have worried as the two optimistic travelers showed up unharmed eleven days later and eventually were able to return to their home, and remain there today.

Whether it is when they order their one breakfast and divide it to share at McDonalds, or when Mary looks at Johney during the singing of “I will always love you”, and he looks back, cocks his eyebrow and grins as he returns the words; theirs is a true testimony to the meaning of love, and marriage.

CMN reporter Joyce Godwin Grubbs traveled from Davenport, Iowa to Nederland, Texas to witness this love affair still has fire. Each morning of the visit started with an 8 o’clock morning breakfast at McDonalds with the couple’s friends of decades. Thursday was ukulele practice, and on Friday daily breakfast to the Friday coffee lunch of retirees. In Johney and Mary’s home they shared pictures, videos, stories and all while making eyes at each other at intervals.

Marrs 60th Wedding Anniversary (

Today, 62 years married, the ukulele serenades replaced the guitar when Johney would play; Mary accompanied him on the piano, and they sang duets.  Johney still eats his daily ice cream and laments he misses Mary’s homemade ice cream. Mary chided Joyce of Cable Muse Network for bringing up Johney once predicted Elvis Presley was a “flash in the pan.”

Johney and Mary reach out and touch hands. It’s the little things.

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