By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal
TIPLERSVILLE – Janice Bates of Tiplersville, her sister, her parents and her grandparents were not prospectors in Tippah County soil, but they all managed to find gold.
Bates and her husband Jeff; her late sister Ruby Gates and her husband Oval of Ripley; her parents, the late Herman and Ida Richardson of Tiplersville; and grandparents, the late Egbert and Annie Hensley of Benton County, all have celebrated 50th wedding anniversaries.
“I think it’s unusual to see so many long-lasting marriages, especially in the same family,” Janice Bates said. “It definitely takes a lot of work and can be difficult at times, but we took vows ‘for better or for worse.’”
Tracing the 50-year family marriage history, Janice Bates’ grandparents, the Hensleys, were married in February 1897; her parents, the Richardsons, married in November 1933; and her sister, the Gateses, married in 1958.
The families of Janice, 69, and Jeff Bates, 71, helped them celebrate the special occasion in January 2012, though their 50th anniversary was Dec. 23, 2011. Their children, grandchildren, extended family, and even eight of Janice’s Falkner High School classmates were among about 90 guests who attended the celebration.
Their children are Greg and Donna Bates of Tiplersville, who have three children; Mike and Lisa Bates of Tiplersville, two children; Clint and Tracy Crawford of Blue Mountain, two children; and Stacy and Jessica Bates of Tiplersville, three children.
“We have truly been blessed,” Janice Bates said. “After we got married we lived with his parents a little while.”
The home they share now is her parents’ house. They moved a little four-room house onto her parents’ property to help her mother with the cattle after her father died. Her mother passed away in 2005.
Through the years they’ve been closely involved with both sides of the family.
“When Jeff’s parents were alive we spent most Sunday afternoons at their house,” she said. “There were nine of them so it was always a big crowd. After they passed away everyone spread out, so now my kids come here for gatherings.”
Though they still live on a farm with all its demands, both Janice and Jeff Bates have held whatever jobs through the years were needed to take care of their family.
Jeff Bates now works with the city of Ripley street department, but he has worked in plants like Biltrite, LaSalle and owned a service station and muffler shop.
Janice Bates has worked at Genesco Shoe Factory, Blue Bell, a rubber plant and in the Falkner school cafeteria, as well as the service station they owned.
Though Janice Bates is battling two major illnesses, she takes each day in stride and lives it to the fullest.
“The Lord left me here for a reason, and we’ve done real well,” she said.
Janice Bates was asked what advice she has for her children and others to make the kind of strong marriages she and other family members have had.
“I hope they’ll learn from my mistakes,” she said. “Two of my sons have already celebrated 25 years. I’m sure in every home there are hurt feelings and disagreements, but you each have your say, try to understand each other, make up and stick together.”