You know they say that looks can be deceiving? The same is true of voices, like you hear that of 94-year-old Louise Gibson, with her deep Alabama twang accent as she speaks about growing up six miles apart from her husband in towns with dueling populations of right around 2,000 people.
They met while both working for Goodyear Tire and Rubber, and you figured they lived that small-town life for the rest of their days, right through to retirement at Regency Pointe at Rainbow City.
But that’s when Louise stops you from getting off the phone to tell you about her Master’s degree.
Or about the fact that her husband Robert is a bona-fide war hero.
Or about how the couple has not only traveled to all 50 states, but an additional 54 countries.
Yes, there’s definitely more to Robert and Louise than meets the ear.
We’ll start with Robert’s involvement in World War II; Louise does most of the storytelling these days for her husband, who has been fighting illness.
“His father was a rural mail carrier, and he substituted for him a couple of years in high school because his dad was in ill health,” Louise shares. “All of his friends were in the service by that time so he volunteered for the Air Force.”
The US didn’t mind the late sign-up one bit, putting Robert into a B-17 bomber as a waist gunner. He was injured in action twice, the first time so harrowing it could have been a movie as his plane lost an engine over France and the crew had to land her in the River Marne southeast of Paris. On his 24th mission, Robert took flak in his left arm, nearly losing it. Instead he spent eight months in a hospital and underwent several grafting procedures to take skin from his stomach and shoulder. He retired from the service as a disabled veteran, not to mention a war hero.
He returned home and got a degree from the University of Alabama; a few years later he was working at the Goodyear factory in Gadsden when he caught Louise’s eye.
“We met at work,” she remembers. “I had seen him before because we were from little towns six miles apart, but we became acquainted at work.”
They got married when they were 30. That was 64 years ago.
Louise left Goodyear for three years to become first a housewife and then a mom. Her mother suggested she further her education once the little girl was old enough for daycare, and Louise decided to give it a go.
“I had a business college degree and had worked as a secretary,” she says. “My husband was working the third shift, so I started going to night school at the University of Alabama-Gadsden. I transferred to Jacksonville State University and commuted there to get my BS and my Masters degrees.”
Louise wound up teaching elementary school for 19 years. Robert retired in 1986 and the two took off on a never-ending travel date.
“We’ve been to all 50 states, and they’re all beautiful in their own ways,” Louise says. “We’ve been to 54 countries. It’s hard to pick a favorite. We really liked the Middle East and the Far East, and we’ve enjoyed cruising. We’ve done 9 or 10 long cruises including one around South America I really liked.”
The couple already owned a home in Rainbow City when they heard about Regency Pointe. Even though they are into their 90s, Louise still feels more like 65 or 70. Nevertheless, they realized it was time to start a new time in their lives.
“I just got tired of cooking and cleaning and doing the yard,” she says. “We worked all those years and kept our house going until we just decided to take it easier. We have good entertainment that we enjoy here and we love visiting new friends. Regency Pointe came to the rescue for us.”