Being in love is easy when you’re young and infatuated. It’s not so easy when you’ve spent a lifetime together raising children, learning about each other, and living through life’s ups and downs.

Married on October 2, 1917, in Greene County, Tennessee, my grandparents, Isaac Lee and Reba Dunn Swanay spent almost 70 years together. Almost. My grandfather passed away in 1986 and grandmother in 1987, so they didn’t quite make it to 70. But they came closer than most us ever will.

The first photo was taken at an unknown family gathering in November 1917, so they were still newlyweds. The second photo was taken at their 60th wedding anniversary party in October 1977.

They were dealt some hard knocks, but they stuck it out. You don’t see that kind of commitment very often these days.

Will I make it to my 70th anniversary? Not likely, unless I live to be 110. But I’ll give it my best shot.


Isaac Lee Swanay and Reba Dunn Swanay, Nov. 1917, Greene Co, TN. Copy of original photograph privately held by Elizabeth O’Neal, CA.

Isaac Lee Swanay and Reba Dunn Swanay, Oct. 1977, Rialto, Riverside Co, CA. Original image privately held by Elizabeth O’Neal, CA.

Copyright © 2008 by Elizabeth O’Neal

Elizabeth is a professional genealogist and California native living in the Santa Barbara area. She has been researching her own family for almost three decades, and providing research services to others for about 8 years.

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