Next Wednesday, August 8, 2012, Ken and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. It also marks Ken’s 50th year in the printing industry. We were 19 years of age. I know, I know you should not get married that young, but things were different 50 years ago. I was actually a nursing student at East TN Baptist Hospital. In 1962 if you were a student nurse at East TN Baptist Hospital you could not get married and stay in school. Ken and I went to a neighboring town and got married and kept it a secret. Ken had planned on joining the Air Force and start a military career while I finished school. We decided that we could not stand being apart for two years so I quit school and we left Knoxville for Cocoa, Florida That is where the printing comes in. Ken got a job driving a truck for Brevard Printing in Cocoa. He learned how to run the presses by working on Saturday for free in order to get the experience. Shortly after, I got a job at Pan American Airways at Cape Canaveral and Ken later worked at Cape Canaveral for a printing contractor. After about five years, we moved to Marietta, GA where Ken worked at Lockheed Georgia in the graphic arts department. After about two years and the birth of our first child, Kathy, we moved back to Knoxville when the offer of a job presented us the opportunity to come back to Knoxville and be near our family and friends. Our second child, Joy was born in 1970 and our little family was complete. We never regretted that move. In 1981 we started our company in our garage. I supported the family while Ken built the business. After two moves into leased buildings, we built our own current location in 1994. In 1990, I left my job as Vice President at Toyota of Knoxville to work full time in the printing business with Ken. We had two daughters in college and for us it was a big step. I even borrowed $20,000 and put it in the bank, just in case it did not work out and I needed to pay the mortgage or college tuition. I later invested that money in the company.
I worked everyday with Ken for 20 years. We ate every meal together, planned the business together and as one of our vendors would describe, “we were joined at the hip”. We got along so well because Ken had his responsibility and I had mine. We were too busy to mess in each others business. Sometimes we did not see each other until lunch time, as he would be back in production and I would be up front taking care of sales and administration.
All of that came to a screeching halt on February 28, 2010. Ken was sitting in the living room talking to me when he started to slur his words. I realized he was in trouble and called 911. Ken suffered a massive stroke. He was in rehab hospitals for three months and thankfully after three months he was able to come home. He is not able to work in the business any longer, but with the help of my wonderful employees, Burns Mailing & Printing Inc. is going strong.
We have a favorite song that we will play at our anniversary party. It is called Silver and Gold by Claire Lynch. The words just seem to describe our love and our journey. Sometimes we are tested with fire when we least expect it but true love will prevail.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude. It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
I will end this blog with another special song for us by Vince Gill, called Look At Us. My favorite line sums it up, “if they want to see what true love should be, then just look at us”. To Ken, my soul mate, Happy 50th Anniversary!