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Love doves: The enduring marriage of Willie and Angela Scott

Angela and Willie Scott celebrate their 58th wedding anniversary at the Potomac Knolls Community Center on July 10, 2022, in Fort Washington, Md. (Markel Gale/shotbykel)
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Willie Scott, just two weeks shy of 81, was dapper in a royal blue suit and silver-blue paisley tie. He used a walking cane lightly as he strolled to the front of a large room filled with family and friends. After turning smoothly to face them, he twirled the cane until it locked under one arm, Fred Astaire-style, and began a tutorial on how to make a marriage last.

“It’s not easy,” Mr. Scott began. “It’s give-and-take, and sometimes you take more than you give.”

He and his wife, Angela, who is 76, were celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary at a community center in Fort Washington on Sunday. The average marriage in the United States lasts only about eight years, according to the Census Bureau. So the guests were understandably curious about how the Scotts had managed eight years times seven plus two.

“It’s a rough road, but you can make it easier if you do it the right way,” Mr. Scott continued. “She gives and I give —” He paused, smiled. “And the next thing you know, we have six children.”

Mr. Scott’s risque innuendo caused the room to erupt in laughter, while Mrs. Scott put her hand on her forehead as if to hide her embarrassment. Actually, she was stifling a giggle. Mr. Scott did not include joking in his secrets to a long marriage. But making people laugh — or blush — was one of the qualities that his family found most endearing.

“Father is a cutup,” said Sharon Scott, the eldest of the six children. “We are a family that laughs a lot, and we get that from Father.”

Of course, there was more to marital bliss than guffaws, as I learned when I first met the couple in 1989.

I’d been walking past the open front doors of Holy Comforter-St. Cyprian Catholic Roman Church, on East Capitol Street in Southeast Washington, when I heard organ music and decided to peek in. Willie and Angela were standing at the altar, renewing their wedding vows after 25 years of marriage.

The ceremony was so uplifting that I wrote about it.

And here they were in 2022, with an additional three decades of proof that what they had discovered really works.

Willie and Angela Scott married in 1964. Angela was 17, a recent graduate of Dunbar High School in D.C. Willie was 21, also a Dunbar graduate. He had held jobs as a cabdriver, a grocery store employee and a construction worker.

The odds of marriages succeeding that involve teens with only high school diplomas are not good.

But the young Mr. Scott had convinced Angela’s mother to permit the marriage, making his case in part by sharing what he’d learned from his father about manhood.

“Pops always told me, to be a man you have to take care of your family,” Willie Scott recalled at the celebration. “If you have children, you have to provide for them, set an example for them, show them right from wrong, show them how to respect one another because you want your kids to be proud of you and you proud of them.”

After the marriage, Angela Scott got a job at the Agriculture Department and later at the Interior Department. Willie Scott made a career as a professional roofer. They bought a house in Seat Pleasant, continued to grow their family and became pillars of the community. They now have 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

There have been losses, too. In 2018, Gary Scott, the third oldest of their six children, died of a heart attack. He was 50. In 2019, Willie Scott had a close call when he began experiencing atrial fibrillation and needed a pacemaker implanted to save his life.

Because of the pandemic, a renewal of vows scheduled for 2020 was canceled. Some of their closest friends contracted the coronavirus and died.

But the Scotts decided to go for it this past weekend. They had a beautiful anniversary party, with lots of guests getting a glimpse of what it takes to keep the flame of love burning bright.

“I have a name that I call him, and when I call his name my voice is always sweet,” Mrs. Scott said. “I call him my love dove. He is agape love, unconditional love, and together we weather the storms of life, all of the hurricanes and tornadoes.”

Mr. Scott chimed in with a rendition of Sam & Dave’s 1966 hit, “You don’t know like I know what that woman has done for me …”

“Mrs. Scott,” he said, turning to his wife, “It’s been a long, long road, and we have traveled it together.” He referenced the column I had written about them in 1989. “In that article, it said we had a long kiss. Well, let me show you something.”

Cheers and squeals filled the room as he took her in his arms. And when their lips finally parted, another secret to their enduring marriage had been revealed.

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