Bill Patterson first heard Sandra Brooks' name in the house they live in now; it was August 1965.
Wayne Tate, a classmate of Bill’s at Huntingdon College, was boarding at the house because he was working at Tallassee Mills.
Bill had left Huntingdon during his sophomore year and joined the Army National Guard in Montgomery.
“When I got back from my duty at Fort Ord, California, I was ready to go back to Huntingdon,” Bill said.
Because he didn’t have a girlfriend, Bill asked Wayne for names of some good looking girls at Huntingdon.
“Never will I forget he gave me 13 names and Sandra Brooks was one of them,” Bill said. “I took these names and I was ready to go back to school. It took me several months to get around to Sandra’s name but a friend of mine was real good friends with her so I asked Joe if he would put in a good word for me. Several days later he said he had built me up the best he could and gave me Sandra’s number.”
Bill called Sandra that day for a date Friday night.
“I had a good conversation with her on the first phone call and asked her for a date on Friday with a special night just for her,” Bill said. “Sandra quickly said she was busy and for me to call her later.”
The following week, Bill called Sandra a second time
“We had a good conversation again and I then asked her for a date,” he said. “ I told her that she could pick Friday, Saturday or Sunday and that I had a special occasion for her and which night would she like to go out. Again, ‘Bill, I’m so sorry but I have something to do each of those nights. Please give me another call.’”
Bill called Sandra a third time.
“This time I was going to ask her to go out any day that next week, Monday through Sunday, any of the seven days,” Bill said. “When I called we had nice conversation again, and then I asked, ‘Sandra, would you go out with me any day next week? That’s Monday through Sunday. I have a special Sandra Brooks night planned any day you pick.’ She responded, ‘Bill, I’m so sorry I have something to do every night next week.’”
Bill said his response to Sandra’s turn down was final.
“Sandra, this is the third time I’ve asked you for a date and you have turned me down each time,” he said. “As far as I am concerned, this has been like a baseball game; three strikes and you’re out.”
She quickly responded, “I’m glad you’re getting the picture. Don’t call me anymore!”
When he hung up the phone and heard that click, Sandra was out of Bill’s mind.
“She was history,” Bill said.
Two weeks later, as Bill was driving his 1961 white Chevrolet Corvette over to the Huntingdon cafeteria with the top down, he turned into the parking lot and saw Sandra coming out of the cafeteria.
“As I said before, she was history,” he said. “ But as I slowed down to let her and the other girls with her cross in front of the car, she jumped on the hood of the Corvette. With her on the hood of my car, I went about 20 feet, stopped the car and said, ‘Get in.’ I’ve never seen a girl run so fast to get into a car as Sandra did that day.”
If Sandra had not been coming out of the cafeteria that day and Bill wasn’t in his Corvette at the same time, they would not have made history. Their relationship would never have materialized and 50 years of marriage wouldn’t have taken place if it weren’t for that day.
Bill says their strong marriage has been based on Christian beliefs.
“She was Baptist and I was Methodist and since our marriage began in Tallassee, she decided to become Methodist,” Bill said. “Since 1969, we have been members of First United Methodist Church in Tallassee. We have raised our three children in this church and all three joined the church as members.”
The Pattersons have three children — two daughters and one son. They also have seven grandchildren with the possibility of more to come.
“We are very proud grandparents,” Bill said. “Our marriage is based on Biblical principles and we have grown stronger in our Christian faith the longer we live. Don’t tell us that prayer doesn’t work because we pray often and together in our private prayer place. I have thanked God so many times for bringing Sandra to me."
Fifty years is a long time and over those years, the Paterson's have made priceless memories.
“We have experienced the good and the bad of life but by putting the bad times in the hands of God, as we look back, God always took care of that bad situation — always,” Bill said.
Through their marriage, the couple has experienced much of the world and almost every state in the U.S.
“We lack nine states as to seeing all of the United States,” Bill said. “We have been to Hawaii, Alaska, the Bahamas, Canada, Nova Scotia, Cape Cod, Scotland, Ireland, England, most of the National Parks, but the place we like the most is our home — Tallassee, Alabama. It is always good to get back home and there is no place like home. Home is where the heart is.”
The Patterson's have just purchased Herren Hill Plantation.
“Instead of celebrating our 50th anniversary big time, we are in the process of fixing up the house and are planning to have our big celebration on our 51st anniversary at Herren Hill Plantation,” Bill said. “To our relatives and our many friends, look for your invitation.”