A Gravette couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, as well as the 70th year of their ministry, this August.
Winfield Poe and Laura Fern Heathman met when he enrolled in a Church of God Holiness School after returning from service with the Army transportation corps in Germany. It happened in a small rural community outside Ava, Mo., called Mt. Zion. When he arrived, Laura, who was teaching there, was heard to say, "I hope that he isn't in any of my classes." Considering the fact that he was older and had military experience, she thought that he would be a troublemaker. When she realized that he was there to learn, she took him under her wing.
Apparently, Winfield and Laura really got along well together and he must have appreciated her efforts to help him because he soon took her to be his wife and partner in ministry. They were married in the Mt. Zion area Aug. 4, 1948, by Joseph Neden. They also began their church ministry the same day.
Winfield was ordained by his brother, James Poe, and Luis Boss in Berryville, in 1951. Laura had been issued a license to preach with the Church of God Holiness at Mt. Zion before the couple was married.
During the course of their ministry, Winfield has pastored 10 churches. The first was in Elkhead, Mo., and the last was at Faith Home in Mitchell, S.D. He was pastor of the Holiness Church in Gravette from January 1980 until leaving in August of 1984. In addition to being a pastor, Winfield has been an evangelist for about 60 years. His first revival in Gravette was held in 1951. He preached a revival at Mitchell, S.D., in 1968, and he would often travel to preach at revivals while Laura kept up the church on the home front.
Winfield was also very involved in missions. He made his first trip to Haiti in 1974 with R.O. Scott. He was appointed as director of Holiness Pilgrim Missions in 1989 and served for 24 years (1989-2013). During this time, he visited 14 different countries, including Haiti, Guatemala, Belize, Bolivia, South Africa, Jamaica, India and Canada. Much of his time was spent in conventions and in the teaching of pastors.
Winfield is the author of six books, including "Home, a Divine Institution of God," "Jacob's Two Wives" (now out of print), "View the Sabbath from Genesis to Revelation" and "You Hold the Faith of Men in Your Hands," which he describes as a guide to help people through spiritual difficulties.
Although Winfield is now 90 years old and Laura is 94, they continue to do what they can in the ministry. Winfield helps in the hospital ministry at Ozarks Community Hospital when he is able, and he preached an afternoon service at the Moulton, Iowa, Camp on Aug. 12.
Winfield says he wants to make sure that God gets all the glory for everything, including the long, successful marriage he and Laura have shared.
"After 70 years, I'm still in love with the same woman," he said. He attributes their continued happiness to "three things we lived by: 1. You don't always have to be right. 2. Don't raise your voice at each other. Talk things over calmly and 3. Drop it. Don't mention it again."
He said that, when they had their anniversary celebration, one of their sons noted that, as far as he knew, his parents never had a disagreement because he didn't remember them ever having an argument.
Winfield said that one of his sisters, Mary Thompson, also celebrated her 70th anniversary this year, in May, in Ava, Mo. Another sister, Ethel Curtis of Promise City, Iowa, would have celebrated her 75th anniversary in 2018, but her husband died a few days before the date.
The Poes are parents of two sons, Theodore Francis (T.F.) and James Poe, who both live in Hiwasse. They have four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and several great-great-grandchildren.
Anyone who would like to send the couple a card or congratulatory note may write them at 305 Sixth Ave. S.E., Gravette, AR 72736.
Community on 09/12/2018
Print Headline: Gravette couple celebrates 70th wedding anniversary, ministry anniversary