Rick’s plan worked: The teacher pulled him aside after class to ask him what she could do to deter him from being disruptful. “I told her, ‘You need to move me over to the table with Sharon,’” Rick says slyly. She agreed to reconfigure the seating in a way that allowed him to sit next to Sharon. Next thing you know, things between the two teenagers, in Rick’s own words, started “sparkin.’” “So I ended up next to Sharon, and I started writing her poems,” Rick says. What did the poems say? “Oh, no. We don’t have to get into that,” he replies, blushing and a little nervous. As they recount the stories of their first few dates together, they speak as though they’re still newly- weds. One of the memories Rick has is of the night that he crashed his 1949 Mercury on his way to pick up Sharon for a date. “I wasn’t paying attention, I guess. I was thinking about her and I pulled out in front of somebody,” Rick says as Sharon shakes her head. “So I had to call her and tell her, ‘Sorry, I can’t come. I wrecked my car.’” Rick also spoke about the first time they kissed, as if it had just hap- pened last night. From his voice, it’s clear that it was one of the proudest moments of his life. Sharon teases him as he talks about how he told his friend that he would go in for a kiss; this isn’t the first time for him to recount the night. “ “You can have whatever you want in a relationship but you have to work for it. I’m sure my parents worked for it way more than I’ll ever know.” 24 Greenville Life WINTER 2019 “You’re so sorry, Rick,” she teases as she rolls her eyes. She pretends like she’s tired of hearing the story, but the smile on her face is a big tell. After they had dated for about a year and finished high school, Rick found himself asking Sharon’s mother, Louise Barlow, permission to ask for Sharon’s hand in marriage. Sharon says her mother, who was a school teacher, always approved of Rick. She even accompanied Rick when he was shopping around for an engagement ring. “She was a teacher extraordinaire; she loved the students,” Sharon says. “She liked stinky wet puppies, and he was one of ‘em.” After Rick, with the help of Sha- ron’s mother, picked out an engage- ment ring, he proposed to Sharon on one knee at her home. About a year later, on July 19, 1957, Rick and Sha- ron officially began their journey as husband and wife. And that journey hasn’t always been pretty photographs and funny stories. Their marriage has also en- dured a tragedy that would test even the healthiest of marriages. In October 1979, the Blues suf- fered an unthinkable loss when daugh- Rick and Sharon still look at each other they way they did in this photo, when they were teenagers. ter Amy, 20 years old, lost her life when her college ensemble’s van was involved in a bad accident. “It does fill your heart with grief; there is no way around that,” Rick says. “It was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced.” They both say it was their faith that got them through. Rather than holding on to the grief or growing re- sentful, Sharon says the pain of the loss has helped her minister to others who have lost loved ones. ” — RICK BLUE An old family photo of Rick and Sharon Blue with their three children, Amy, Phil and Paul.