The Arnold family – working together through the years

Published 1:57 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

Ernest and Frances Arnold celebrated a special anniversary on June 14. Their Tryon Estates home is still festive with flowers and balloons, but their daughter had difficulty shopping for the decorations. The party store carried few items to commemorate a 70th anniversary.

The Arnolds married in 1939, but they count the history of their relationship from five years earlier, when they met as college students. &dquo;We have some old friends who actually called to wish us a happy 75th anniversary,&dquo; laughs Frances.

Dedication to each other and to the values they share has characterized their relationship from its beginning. &dquo;He told me on our first date that he wanted to be a missionary,&dquo; Frances remembers. &dquo;He said, &squo;Don&squo;t date me if you don&squo;t want to be a missionary.&squo;&dquo;

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They married after Dr. Arnold completed his studies at Yale Divinity School. Though World War II forced the Arnolds to give up their goal of mission work, they soon found alternative paths to a lifetime of service.

Dr. Arnold became President of the North Carolina Council of Churches, where he directed the State&squo;s human-aide response to war-torn Europe. With his inspiring leadership, North Carolina sent truckloads of blankets, clothing, and food and led the nation in donations of goods and money.

He then served as Assistant to the President of Davidson College. His development skills helped make possible the building of the college library, science building, and gymnasium.

The Arnolds spent the next 50 years in Atlanta. Mrs. Arnold volunteered in a sick baby clinic at Central Presbyterian Church. Dr. Arnold served as President of the Protestant Radio and Television Center.&bsp; They produced tapes of religious music and messages for five Protestant denominations. The tapes were broadcast over 1,800 radio stations and distributed overseas through the armed forces. The tapes brought spiritual support to service people deployed in submarines, which submerged for three months at a time, and chaplains used the tapes behind the lines of battle.&bsp; &dquo;When we began, we recorded on long-playing records,&dquo; remembers Dr. Arnold. &dquo;We graduated to reel-to-reel and were using cassettes when we finished.&dquo;

&dquo;We have had a wonderful life,&dquo; Frances says.&bsp; &dquo;We shared our work. We loved each other and loved each other&squo;s families.&dquo;

The Arnolds have two children, Judy in Columbus and Philip in Montreat, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

When asked about their strong marriage, she speaks of shared faith. He mentions trust in one another. These values are the cornerstones of their life and work, but humor was an added bonus.&bsp; &dquo;We&squo;re silly,&dquo; Frances laughs. &dquo;We&squo;ve been silly for 75 years, and we are still laughing.&dquo;

Ernest Arnold survived cancer 23 years ago, but when his illness returned, the Arnolds did not hesitate to accept Hospice services. They are long-term supporters of Hospice, both here in the Foothills and in Atlanta, where Dr. Arnold served on a committee to bring the first Hospice services to Atlanta. &bsp;

&dquo;We love our Hospice team. They are &squo;family&squo;, and they look after us,&dquo; Frances says. &bsp;

&dquo;We are happy that we can have this relationship,&dquo; Dr. Arnold says. &dquo;As far as Frances and I are concerned, Hospice has allowed us to stay together in our apartment and to share our days and our meals.&dquo;

&dquo;I can still help with his care,&dquo; adds Frances. &dquo;I&squo;m his nurse each day.&dquo;

&dquo;We never use the word problem, we say, just something to be worked through together,&dquo; Mrs. Arnold continues. &dquo;We ask God every morning to help us on our journey.&dquo;

The Arnolds, with the help of Hospice care, are working through his illness together – just as they have for 70 wonderful years.

by Sandi Sox for Hospice of the Carolina Foothills