Written by Alison Clary Photos by Grant L. Gursky
Harriet and Alvin Smith’s love story began when Alvin courageously walked up and asked Harriet to dance with him at a party in Washington, DC. After feeling an instant connection while sharing their first (of later many) dances, they continued to talk openly and spend time interacting at the party. When the night concluded, Alvin asked if he could see her again the next day. Much to his excitement, she agreed. The following day, they spent hours talking on a blanket at the park and getting to know each other’s interests and personalities. They began dating and later married on the five-year anniversary of their first meeting.
Today, Harriet and Alvin are proud to say they’ve been married for 43 years, and their love is as strong as ever. They currently reside in Millsboro because it was Harriet’s dream to retire by the ocean. In their community, they are known for the unsurpassed kindness they show one another and every person they meet.
What’s been the key ingredients or secrets to your relationship’s success?
What’s been the best part of being married to your partner?
Alvin: She is my absolute best friend, and I can honestly say I would give my life for her.
Harriet: I feel so much love from Alvin, and every little thing he does shows me how much he loves me. And I sure love him, too, with all of my heart.
What do you find most attractive about your partner’s personality?
Alvin: Her smile and her calmness when we talk about serious topics.
Harriet: His kindness.
Has it always been easy? What struggles have you encountered together and how did you overcome them?
Alvin: No, it hasn’t always been easy. One memory that comes to mind is when we were living in Maryland, and Harriet underwent a very serious surgery. Unfortunately, while she was in post-surgery rehabilitation, I was called out to Silicon Valley for a two-week work trip. I felt so bad that I wasn’t able to be there for her, so I made the decision to fly her out to Silicon Valley the next day so that I could give her the care and attention she needed.
Harriet: Life isn’t always easy, but we’ve always found a way to work things out. Alvin always lives to make me smile… he’s always full of surprises.
What are some of these surprises?
Alvin: Well, for example, a few months ago I surprised Harriet with a public celebration of her life. Twenty-five years ago, Harriet told me she’s always wanted to ride in a Jaguar, and I never forgot it, so I reached out to a friend, and he kindly let me borrow his beloved convertible Jaguar with bright-red bucket seats. I took Harriet for a ride, and when we arrived at our country club, I arranged for 50 neighbors to be lined up and waiting to applaud Harriet as we entered. Then I pulled inspiration from my musical-and-dance background to perform for her. I tap-danced and sang “My Girl” by The Temptations, as well as Al Green’s “I’m So in Love With You”.
Harriet: I can’t put into words how much it all meant to me. I love that he still surprises me after all these years.
When your partner upsets or angers you, how do you deal with them?
Alvin & Harriet: We have never been angry with each other or had an argument. If we’re ever not on the same page, we just simply talk it out.
What advice would you give married couples to remain dedicated to their relationship?
Alvin: Get to know the person you’re going to wed and believe in them fully. Work hard to agree on the situations that matter.
Harriet: Always listen to each other. Always be happy. Actually, that’s always been our motto: “Always be happy.”