By Kelly Lafferty Kokomo Tribune
---- — One of Phyllis McCarter’s best girlfriends was engaged to 20-year-old George Reprogle while he was in the Army, but while he was overseas, he realized he didn’t love her and broke off the engagement.
When he came back to Kokomo in 1947, he began attending Zion Tabernacle Church’s youth group again and started to take notice of a petite, black-haired and beautiful young girl.
That young girl was Phyllis, and she often acted as the messenger for George’s ex-fiancee. Phyllis would deliver notes from her to George because his ex-fiancee was trying to get him to go back with her.
Her days as a messenger came to an end after a conversation with George’s grandmother.
“His grandmother came up to me and said ‘I know somebody George would like to go with, but he’s afraid she’s too young,’” Phyllis said. “I thought, ‘Whoa, I wonder if she means me.’”
George didn’t have eyes for any other girl and Phyllis always thought George was the cutest boy in youth group, but she never thought anything of it. She was 15 and thought he wouldn’t be interested in someone her age.
“If he’s got any feelings toward me, I’m gonna grab him up,” Phyllis said. “So boy I quit taking notes from those other girls.”
Phyllis was one year shy of being allowed to date, but George still found a way to show his affection for her. He and a friend would drive Phyllis and her sister home from church and, in the car, he’d reach over the arm of the seat and hold her hand.
“It got my heart pounding,” Phyllis said.
Once she was home, the scent of George’s cologne, Old Spice, still filled the air.
“I would go to bed and wouldn’t wash my hands,” Phyllis said. “I would just lay there and smell my hands and smell that Old Spice.”
A week after Phyllis’ 16th birthday, in 1948, George asked if she would go with him to a revival service in Marion. After she got permission from her parents, they went. It was the first time they’d spent time together as a couple.
“That night he asked how I felt about him,” Phyllis said. “I didn’t tell him I’d been madly in love with him for a year.”
She did tell him that she thought he was a good, clean, Godly man. They became an exclusive couple, much to the disappointment of the other youth group girls when they found out the next day. They all had a crush on George and were jealous of Phyllis.
“None of them had anything to do with me,” Phyllis said. “It made me feel bad and I didn’t know what to do. They totally ignored me. I wasn’t gonna give him up for them girls.”
The couple dated for a year and a half, and soon their age difference didn’t matter very much.
“After we got familiar with each other I forgot all about our age,” George said. “It didn’t mean anything to us.” Most of their dates were attending church-related activities. Sometimes they would go with their fellow church-goers after a service to The Cupboard, a restaurant and ice cream parlor in Kokomo.
“We were just two peas in a pod,” George said.
Since all of their time spent together was also spent around many other people, the two never really had any alone time.
“I told him, ‘If we don’t get married, we’re never gonna have any time to spend together,’” Phyllis said.
George agreed and planned to ask her father for permission to marry Phyllis.
“We’d been together for a year and a half,” George said. “Nobody else caught my eye. I fell in love with her family. I fell in love with her. I just knew she was the lady of my life.”
After four hours of stalling, her father agreed to the marriage, even though he preferred Phyllis wait until she was 18.
She said was ready to settle down and get married. She didn’t finish her senior year of high school and married George on Sept. 16, 1949, at her parents’ home. She was 17 and he was 22.
During the ceremony, George stood at the bottom of the steps and sang “I Love You Truly” as Phyllis walked down the stairs in her wedding gown.
“She was beautiful as she walked down the steps,” George said. “She was gorgeous.”
The newlyweds went to Niagra Falls for their honeymoon and stayed in cabins for $6 a night.
“You didn’t care where you stayed,” Phyllis said. “You were together. We were just two happy lovebirds.”
Phyllis and George enjoy being married. Their life together has been filled with many positive things, but not everything was joyful. Their first born son of their four children was killed when he was 8 years old after he was hit by a dump truck while he was riding his bike.
“I guess God had a reason that we don’t understand why,” Phyllis said. “It was a horrible thing, but we’ll see him again.”
The Reprogles relied on their faith during their marriage and they started a church out of their home in 1966 that grew so much they built Apostolic Lighthouse in Kokomo just a few years later. George pastored there for 47 years.
These days, 64 years after they married, their daily life isn’t as hectic as it once was. When they wake up, George watches the news and Phyllis reads the newspaper.
“Every morning he looks over and says, ‘I’m so blessed. I’ve got the most beautiful girl in all the world.’ And he goes on and on,’” Phyllis said. “Then I say how I’m so lucky and blessed. I mean, we sweet talk each other all the time.”
They continue to hold hands every time they’re in the car. It’s a tradition they’ve had since their dating years.
“It makes me know that he still cares,” Phyllis said. “Even now when I’m old and wrinkled and not as pretty as a young 19-year-old.”
Over the years they say their love has grown stronger and richer.
“He is very kind and very loving,” Phyllis said. “He builds me up and tells me good things all the time. So naturally, I have to love him and I do love him.”
George and Phyllis said that in a marriage, it’s important to always look for the good.
“The bad is always gonna be there,” George said. “If you look for the good, you’ll see the good. Take advantage of all the good things and treasure them.”
“This is a lifetime thing,” Phyllis said. “Make it happy. Make the best of it.”
Now that the Reprogles are older, they say that they see the value and purpose of each day.
“Today it’s just she and I, and we have each other and we enjoy each other,” George said.
The couple doesn’t know what they would do without each other and have had conversations about what they’d do if one of them was gone.
“God has to some way, somehow, take us out of life together,” Phyllis said.
“When we got married, we were two people and we were made into one,” George said. “We’ve been one ever since. You can’t separate one.”