FOR MANY PEOPLE, THE thought of a Caribbean cruise with 21 family and friends is anything but a vacation. Neighborhood residents Asa and Dorothy Newsome view it differently. This cruise is their celebration of 60 years of marriage, a relationship that began on the campus of Baylor University in 1942. Dot and Asa, as they are known, were married two years later, in the winter of 1944.
Asa recalls how they first met.
“Dot was walking in front of the administration building, and she fell. Her books fell in one direction, and she went in the other. I leapt out to catch her.”
While Dot says the incident was an accident, Asa maintains she fell on purpose. This appears to be one of the only things the couple disagrees on.
“We have a good personal relationship,” says Dot, who still gets a glow in her eye when she talks about her husband.
“If we had a disagreement, we went to the bedroom and thrashed it out. We didn’t argue in front of our children.”
That common sense approach to settling differences of opinion is one of many practical ideals the couple has shared through the years, helping to keep their marriage strong.
Since 1955, Dot and Asa have lived in their three-bedroom home in Preston Hollow. While Asa poured his efforts into his obstetrics career at Baylor hospital, Dot, a homemaker and antique buff, raised their three boys, who are all attorneys.
Dot recalls how different things were when they moved into the neighborhood.
“This house was in walking distance of three schools when it was built, and there was a dirt road in front,” she says, laughing as she goes on to remember how they once watched cattle graze nearby from their window.
Through the surrounding neighborhood may have changed, the Newsoms’ love for each other hasn’t. Asa cites self-imposed principles – what he calls “The Four Cs” – as key to the couple’s success: commitment, cooperation, consideration and common values. These principles, together with their shared values. These principles, together with their shared values of church (they helped establish Wilshire Baptist Church in East Dallas), family, work, and recreation, have kept the Newsom marriage strong.
Still, they’ve had their share of rough times, including scares involving Dot’s health.
“She had had three attacks,” Asa says, “but they haven’t slowed her down a bit.”
And they stress that just because their marriage has endured for more than half a century, that doesn’t mean it’s not hard work.
“Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition,” Dot says. “Some days it’s 90/10 and other days it’s 10/90. The important thing is to be committed to each other. He’s my best friend.”
Asa concurs. “It’s about compromise. You have to give and take.”
Dot says with a smile: “Asa still does things that aggravate me, and I’m sure I still might do one or two things that aggravate him. But after a while, that’s all trivia. They aren’t important, not life-changing events, and you learn to roll with the punches.”
The occasional laugh doesn’t hurt either, Dot says, adding that Asa “has a sense of humor that won’t quit.”
Through the years, the Newsoms have enjoyed the company of lots of friends, many of whom are still living. They’ve vacationed in Italy, France and Spain. And, between the two of them, they have celebrated 180 weddings and anniversaries, and Asa always gives Dot a gift. But, he stresses, gifts aren’t the only way to be thoughtful in a marriage.
“You can express your love in so many ways,” Asa says. “You can take the dog out for her. You can wash the dishes for her.”
When she thinks back on her marriage, Dot smiles with affection toward the man she has shared her life with for the past 60 years.
“There’s nothing I’d have done different. We had great parents who set great examples for us.”
That parental influence continues to be played out on Wednesdays as Dot, Asa and their three sons meet for a weekly standing lunch appointment.
These days, with their children long-grown, Dot keep busy working in her garden and doing her daily walk on the treadmill, and both continue their involvement at Wilshire Baptist.
When asked if either had advice for newlyweds, Asa recalls a time when a young man was frustrated with his wife because she didn’t flatten the toothpaste tube out the same way he did. He asked for Asa’s advice.
“The answer was simple,” he says. “I told him to get two tubes of toothpaste. One for him, and one for her.”
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.