My Grandparents (my Mom's parents) were recently in an article in the Arkansas Gazette. Here is a copy- I'm very proud of them!
RIGHT TIME RIGHT PLACE 54 grandchildren ago she had doubts
By Kimberly Dishongh
LITTLE ROCK — Henri Pote’s routine kitchen work got a little spice when he saw Cora Mitchell stroll through in the summer of 1946.
They were both students at the Southern California Bible College - now Vanguard University - in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Henri, who had finished college at 19 before being drafted into the U.S. Army to fight in World War II, needed that one course to graduate from the seminary.
Cora was working as a bookkeeper in a garage downtown, although she had worked in the kitchen in the past and knew everyone there.
Henri, part of the dishwashing crew, had heard about Cora before they were introduced that day.
“My friends said they would have been glad to go with her, but she was a couple of inches taller than both of them,” Henri says. “They recommended her. They said she was like a big sister - you can tell her your troubles and she’ll listen to you and sympathize with you.”
Cora had other things on her mind.
“I had always been taller than most of the girls around, and I had in mind that I was going to marry someone 6-foot-4,” she says. “Well, Henri was a couple of inches taller than me. That wasn’t enough in my viewpoint.”
Cora had tried - and failed, repeatedly - to run a mile without stopping or walking.
“One of the three men students that were doing this would stay back and walk with me, and Henri enjoyed doing that a little bit,” Cora recalls. “Then he asked me to take a walk with him and we found where a campfire had been in a canyon right near there.”
They sat by the campfire talking for hours, returning to campus well after curfew.
“We were all supposed to be in bed by 10 o’clock and Henri says it was a quarter ’til 12,” she says. “And we met, of all things, the president. I was sure I was really going to catch it, but he just greeted us and went on along, never said a word.”
Later that summer they rode on a bus together to a church assignment at Mount Wilson.
“I was always burning the candle at both ends in order to work and go to school,too,” she says. “So I was always short of sleep. I got sleepy and he invited me to lay my head on his shoulder.”
At Christmas, Henri met Cora’s family.
“He asked my parents if he could court me. I was kind of bugged about that because he hadn’t said anything about it to me,” she says.
When Henri went off to seminary, he and Cora exchanged letters.
“My older sister was veryirritated at me. She said, ‘Cora this just isn’t right. You’re just keeping him on your string.’ Well, I didn’t think of it that way, but anyhow I quit writing to him,” Cora says.
Henri’s mother, though, continued writing to Cora.
“After two years, my life seemed like it was getting more off course all the time,” she says. “My folks were moving to Prescott, Arizona, and I just felt like I was going nowhere. I couldn’t keep up the work and the study, righton the edge financially all the time, and I got depressed, so I quit college.”
Henri’s mother invited her to visit their family in Pennsylvania. When she arrived early that morning in October 1948, Henri’s mother called Henri.
“She said, ‘Henri, I think there’s someone here that you want to talk to,’ and she gave the phone to me and I said, ‘Hello Henri.’ I couldn’t believe it - he immediately said, ‘Hello, Cora,’” she says. “That he would recognize my voice from that after two years.”
Henri asked Cora to go for a walk.
“On that walk, he said, ‘Cora, you know that I still love you.’ And for once I answered, ‘I love you, too,’” she says.
During the time they had been apart, several people asked why she hadn’t married Henri.
“And I would say, ‘I didn’t think I loved him,’” she says. “I didn’t have enough emotion involved in it to me at the moment.”
They were married on Dec. 18, 1948, in a Baptist church in Ogden, Pa.
Henri and Cora have lived in Pine Bluff since 1963 when he took an administrative assistant position with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a job that would bring in more money than his work as a nondenominational preacher.
They raised 16 children - 14 of their own, and two they adopted as foster children - and they have 54 grandchildren and 35 greatgrandchildren.
“God has been so good to us,” she says. “There have been so many times we have just felt so blessed. And I am so proud of our children. I really am.”My advice for a long, happy marriage is: She says: “Be committed in the first place, and always try to be pleasant with each other and with the children.” He says: “Marry someone you met and love as a fellow Christian, and get married with the intention of being married the rest of your life.
My favorite memory from our courtship is: She says: “When we were visiting an invalid lady in an Italian home and they asked him to read the Bible and talk and somehow as he talked, my heart just thrilled with how God used him.” He says: “The long walk we took together in 1946 when we were both in summer school.” As we prepared to take our wedding vows, I was thinking: She says: “If I’m going wrong let the church fall in if need be, but don’t let me take the wrong step.” He says: “Well, the Lord has finally brought to pass what I so earnestly asked him for. He brought me a good wife.”
This article was published June 13, 2010 at 5:16 a.m.