A Legacy of Love: The Roberts Family

by Melissa Fox

When Army veteran Gerald Roberts returned from service in WWII to his hometown of Gilmer, Texas he had no idea what the future would hold for him. Turns out, that future was to marry Mavinee Petty in June of 1948 at the Justice of the Peace in Gilmer and embark on a 75-year legacy of love that continues today. 

Gerald and Mavinee had two sons. One of them was Rick and when he was a senior in high school he met his friend, Karen Williams, at her bus stop, intent on asking her about a friend of hers that he was keen on. As fate would have it though, Rick ended up liking Karen in the process, which led to a two-and-a-half-year courtship. Once Karen had graduated high school, Rick and Karen were married in June of 1973 at Concord Baptist Church just outside of Gilmer, almost 25 years to date after Rick’s parents. 

Rick and Karen Roberts soon had two sons of their own. One of their sons, Brandon, attended Tyler Junior College and was introduced to another student at a football game, November Durland. Upon meeting him for the first time, November declared “I’m going to remember you!” And that she did! So much so that they began dating shortly after that and did so for the next two years. They were eventually married in the fall of 1998 at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas. Just 25 years after Brandon’s parents wedding and 50 years after Gerald and Mavinee’s wedding. Ironically, the coincidence of the Roberts family anniversaries being separated by 25 years hadn’t yet occurred to anyone at that time. 

It wasn’t until the family had gathered to celebrate Gerald and Mavinee’s 73rd wedding anniversary in 2021 and upon sharing their own marriage and anniversary dates around the table, did the family come to realize that two years from then they would ALL be having significant anniversary celebrations each 25 years apart. They were excited to celebrate these monumental milestones in their family, but they didn’t realize there was still more to come. 

Brandon and November ultimately broke tradition on this side of the family by having four daughters instead of sons. When their eldest daughter, Alana, started dating Travis Caudle as seniors at Grace Community School in Tyler, they again had no idea where it would lead. But after high school and by the year 2022, Travis and Alana knew they wanted to eventually get married, and it was Alana’s wish to do so in the year 2023 so that they could have four generations of family to celebrate anniversaries with all separated by 25 years. 

Travis and Alana were engaged in March of 2023 and set the wedding date for August 5th, 2023. They spent the summer planning and were married in a beautiful daytime ceremony at the Lake Tyler Petroleum Club. They celebrated this remarkable occasion as a continuation of the rich heritage of long-standing marriages in their family. 

The Roberts and Caudle families are forever grateful to God for orchestrating the four different stories of these couples, to meet and fall in love and marry all separated by 25 years each. 2023 will be a bittersweet date as it marks the beginning of the journey of Travis and Alana’s marriage and the end of Gerald and Mavinee’s marriage. Gerald passed away a few weeks after his great-granddaughter’s wedding on August 31, 2023. 

The family agrees that they feel blessed to have this legacy of love and the godly examples of each of these marriages for generations to come. When asked what significant lesson can be learned by witnessing so many years of loving and faithful marriages in the family, November remarks, “We have learned that a personal relationship with the Lord is the key to a loving relationship with each other. We have also learned that selflessness is so important. You must think of the other person more than yourself, trying to ‘out love’ each other.” 

Anyone who has been married for any length of time will tell you that it is certainly not always easy. There will be ups and downs, good times, and hard times, and it will require work, but for those marriages, like Gerald and Mavinee’s, who celebrated a milestone of 75 years together – what a beautiful legacy to leave your family. Who knows, maybe in 25 years we’ll be celebrating a little Caudle wedding perhaps?!