Harold and Wilma Leatherman have dedicated more than half a century to faith and family.
The local couple were recognized for their service Sunday at First United Methodist Church.
Pat Lawing, a member of the churchâ€™s staff/parish relations committee, said the coupleâ€™s devotion to the church and each other makes them stand out above the rest.
â€œHe has spoiled us rotten. He is always so attentive to our needs,â€ said Lawing. â€œTheir ministry together as a couple says so much.â€
Sundayâ€™s celebration included a special service where the coupleâ€™s children and grandchildren sang hymns and read scripture. A luncheon honoring the Leathermans followed.
The event was supposed to be a surprise for the couple. Letters were sent to churches where the Leathermans once served. Announcements went out in newsletters across the state. Unfortunately, the Leathermans still receive many of these newsletters, therefore clueing them in on Sundayâ€™s events.
The not-so-surprising celebration still pleased the honorees. People paid tribute to the Leathermans, and the couple was presented money for a vacation.
They hope to go to the Amish country with the gift.
â€œThe people are so loving,â€ Wilma Leatherman said.
The Leathermans originally came to First United Methodist almost 13 years ago. Harold Leatherman was hired as interim minister. He later took the part-time position of pastor of visitation, a title he still holds even in retirement.
Wilma Leatherman said her husbandâ€™s retirement is often fleeting. He has retired three times, she said.
Harold Leatherman has served churches in Henderson, Raleigh, Manteo, Morehead City, Kinston, New Bern, Sanford, Rockingham, Hickory and Lincolnton. Wilma has been by his side through it all. They have been married for 62 years.
When Harold Leatherman describes his career, he repeatedly said, â€œwe served.â€ He said his partnership with his wife has held strong personally and spiritually.
â€œSheâ€™s a part of it,â€ he said. â€œSheâ€™s been a part of it all through the years.â€
While Harold continues with his ministry, Wilma sings in the choir and teaches Sunday school.
â€œThatâ€™s the story of my life,â€ she said. â€œBeing a driver of three children, being a cheerleader at basketball games as he works at the church. That pretty well describes my life in the ministry. Being a wife and mother.â€by Diane Turbyfill