When Fred and Laura Sutherland first met on Jan. 19, 1962, they were both engaged to be married to other people. The two talked for hours, and something just clicked. Less than three weeks later they were married.
Now, almost over half a century later, the Dawson County couple are still happily married and are celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary.
Laura Sutherland said that she first met her future husband when they were introduced by a friend. Laura was a clerk in the military and Fred was a military medical equipment repairman, and Laura’s friend introduced them in hopes that Laura could play matchmaker and set the friend up with Fred.
“I was engaged at the time and so was he, so my friend wanted me to talk him out of marrying the girl he was engaged to and into marrying her,” Laura Sutherland said. “So I got it half right!”
Both Fred and Laura said that they just knew they were meant to be together, right from the moment they met.
“We just both knew. I don’t know any other way to say it, but we just sat and talked for hours and we just both knew that the other was the right person,” Laura Sutherland said. “We found we could talk about absolutely anything and that’s the secret; when you find somebody you can talk to about anything under the sun that’s the one.”
The couple was married only 16 days after they first met, and despite being told by friends and family, including both their parents, that they wouldn’t stay together, their relationship lasted through thick and thin.
“We have so much in common,” Laura Sutherland said. “We both have a sense of adventure when it comes to trying new foods, we both love to travel, we both have a sense of humor — there’s just a lot we have in common.”
The couple, both of whom are originally from South Carolina, moved more than 30 times throughout their military careers and after they ended their service to the country. Laura Sutherland, lived her whole life in South Carolina until she met her husband, and said that she always wanted to see states outside of the south, which she considered an adventure.
“After we got married and I started having children, I got out of the service and he stayed in, so a lot of our moves were while he was still in the service and a lot weren’t,” Laura Sutherland said. “He put in eight and a half years in the service, and we lived everywhere from Arizona to Alaska.”
“And oh heavens it was an adventure!” she added.
The couple had two children, a son and a daughter, and have lived in Dawsonville for the last four years.
Both Fred and Laura Sutherland said that in their almost 59 years of marriage, they have discovered many secrets to having a successful and lasting relationship.
“Communication is the main key; you just can’t have a good relationship, whether it’s a marriage or a friendship or a business relationship, without communication,” Laura Sutherland said.
Another key to a long-lasting marriage, according to Fred Sutherland, is to commit to it no matter what happens.
“Commit to make it work,” Fred Sutherland said. “There can be tough times, but that’s life, so going into it you have to commit.”
Laura Sutherland said that every couple will have arguments, but that it’s also important to keep those arguments between the couple and to work through them together.
“If something goes wrong don’t go running to mama and daddy; it’s not their business,” Laura Sutherland said. “We’ve had times that we were so mad at each other we couldn’t see straight but had committed to being around other people and the other people never knew we were mad; we didn’t snap and snip at each other in front of other people cause that’s private.”
Since moving to Dawson County, the Sutherlands have found several ways they like to spend their time together.
“We like to get out in the mountains or go over to the lake; there’s a little park that we like to go to, take our old fashioned boombox with us, listen to music, read and play cards,” Laura Sutherland said. “Or we like to get with friends and play cards and board games — there’s a lot of things we like doing together.”