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Newberrys named News and Sentinel Golden Anniversary Couple

David and Jean Newberry are the Parkersburg News and Sentinel's Golden Anniversary Couple for the month of April. They were married April 25, 1970 at the Church of Christ in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. (Photo Provided)

WASHINGTON W.Va. –For a Washington, W.Va., couple, their faith in God has been instrumental in their 50 years of marriage.

David and Jean Newberry are the Parkersburg News and Sentinel’s Golden Anniversary Couple for the month of April. They were married April 25, 1970 at the Church of Christ in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.

The couple met in 1968 at a meeting of college students who were interested in going to Italy to do mission work for a church in a summer program called Project Italy out of Columbus, Ohio which was done through the Church of Christ.

David was from the Parkersburg area while Jean was from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. David’s family was involved in the hardware business and sporting goods business locally.

David had already been to Italy with this group in 1966 and 1967 and she was interested in going. They started dating and she ended up going on that trip while David was not able to go.

They went the following year in 1969 and had a summer in Italy as part of the group. They became engaged in Venice.

The man who married them, David Lavender, was also the one who organized the trips to Italy.

Before they were married, David was the associate minister at the Camden Avenue Church of Christ in Parkersburg.

A year after they were married in 1971, they returned to Italy to do mission work. They worked in the area where they were engaged in Mestre, referred to as the “dry land” part of Italy.

“This situation with the coronavirus in Italy has been very real for us,” David said. “We worked in that area where it is the worst there in northern Italy.”

In 1972, they went further north almost to the Yugoslavian border in the Monfalcone area, a shipbuilding area. They built a church there.

“We have made a lot of visits back in the meantime,” David said. “There is still a church there that we were involved in starting.”

The couple ended up spending about eight years in Italy.

They moved back to the US in the late 1970s and he worked as a minister in the Reynoldsburg area for a number of years before moving back to the Parkersburg area.

He was a minister for the Lubeck Church of Christ for 18 years from 1986 to 2004. During that time they took groups back to Italy. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Ohio Valley University where he taught the Italian language, Bible classes and communication classes. They also took groups of students to Italy at that time.

In 1994, he did mission work in South America where they started six different congregations in Kwakwani of Amindians. He has made 45 trips down there and Jean went on several of those.

“We have taken a lot of groups from Ohio Valley University and others down there,” he said.

Normally, he makes two trips a year down there. After the pandemic is over, he is planning to return to South America.

The couple also did missionary work in Maui, taking 6-week trips at different times, to Maui between 2005 and 2007.

Doing mission work is one of the things that attracted them to each other, David said.

“It has been a common goal throughout the years,” he said.

The couple has two daughters, Nicole (Guertin) was born in Parkersburg and lives in Nashville, Tenn. Their second daughter Christina (Smith) was born in Italy and has dual-citizenship. The couple has three grandchildren.

The couple says they have been able to stay together for over 50 years because of their common faith.

“Our belief that God had in mind one man and one woman for one life as far as marriage,” David said. “That is not to say that things were always perfect.

“I think everybody has their difficulties and has to go through hard times. Our approach was that divorce was not an option.”

The couple has remained together keeping that in mind.

“My wife has said at times, `I might shoot him, but I won’t divorce him,”‘ David said.

“Don’t make me hurt you honey,” she jokingly replied.

Their families have had an influence on their life together as well. Their parents were both involved in the church. His grandfathers were both ministers.

“It was basically a family tradition that we stay together,” David said.

Being together and staying married means understanding the word, “commitment,” Jean said.

“Marriage is definitely a commitment,” she said. “We have seen through the years that some are just not as committed and find it easy to just go away.

“We need each other. People need a structure to their world. We need marriage as a solid thing in our lives. Commitment is an important word.”

David said Jean was always there in their missionary work and ministry work in the church.

“It has been a great support to me through the years as she has been involved in so much of my work in the ministry through the years,” he said. “We have been very family oriented.”

Jean said David was always a good provider and very responsible over the years.

“It is difficult to provide for one’s family through the years,” she said. “You have ins and outs, ups and downs. It is important to provide for our families. It is important for men and women who work to share that.”

In giving advice to young couples just starting out, the couple said couples need to face challenges together and remember they are in it together.

“Couples need to look at the common goals they have together,” David said. “They need to understand that this is a commitment.”

He offered three words of advice to all couples getting married, “Never give up.”

Many go into it thinking they will get a divorce if it doesn’t work out and start over again.

“It is better to go into with the attitude that you are never going to give up,” he said.

Jean agreed saying young people need to take marriage seriously.

“I think good advice to young people is to take marriage seriously and to discipline yourself and remember your commitment,” she said. “To discipline ourselves in marriage is very important because we have to treat each other with respect.

“People don’t always have a lot of respect for each other as things happen. People need to take marriage seriously.”

Their family had planned to have a reception for the couple at the end of April, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused them to postpone those plans until later in the year. However, around Christmas time they went on a weeklong cruise to Mexico and Central America with their daughters and their families, spending a lot of quality time with their grandchildren.

“It was really a special time,” David said.

The couple have both had health issues and treatments in their time together.

“We still came out on top thanks to God,” Jean said.

Quoting, 1 Corinthians, Jean said, “Faith is good and hope is good, but love is the best.”

“Love is what we need to keep and what we need to hold on to in our lives and in our marriage,” she said. “That gets you to the 50th anniversary.

“Love never fails.”

David agreed saying that even with the pandemic they are staying close.

“We have had trouble keeping the social distance with each other,” he said with a laugh.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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