American singer Pat Boone and his wife, Shirley, lived a classic love story. Married for 65 years, what was their secret to love, life, and a gloriously happy marriage?
With 38 chart-topping hits and appearances in over 12 Hollywood movies, Pat Boone was a heartthrob in his heyday of the 1950s. But the daydreams of fans everywhere were doomed to reside in the realms of the fictional; Pat met his sweetheart at the tender age of 16.
And her name was Shirley.
"'Side by Side', one of two successful albums with my favorite duet partner." -Pat and Shirley Boone, 1959
Pat and Shirley were innocent teens when they met. Shirley was the daughter of country music star Red Foley and his wife, singer Judy Martin. The young couple’s love was strong and steadfast.
When the couple were just 19, Shirley’s family relocated. As barely a young woman herself, it was assumed that Shirley may go with them to live longer under the guidance and protection of her loving parents. However, Shirley was loyal to her marriage vows, and Pat realized he couldn’t exist without his sweetheart by his side.
"Shirley made Phyllis Diller laugh. This girl can do anything!" – Pat and Shirley Boone with Phyllis Diller
Pat, in the traditional style of the time, asked Shirley’s dad for permission to marry her. Shirley’s father was touched and had one simple request, delivered with tears in his eyes: “Will you take care of my girl?”
Pat and Shirley married that same year, at just 19. Keen to start a family and with the blessing of their own, there was no time to lose. The young pair welcomed four beautiful daughters as the next few years rolled by.
Pat and Shirley, both singers and dedicated to their creativity, were very ambitious. Unlike Pat’s desire to crack the music industry and achieve widespread success as a recording artist, however, it was Shirley’s passion to write. Whilst there exist many examples of ambitious couples stifling one another’s paths to success, it was not to be so for this loving and supportive pair.
They reached their goals.
Pat Boone was one of the most well known, iconic singers of the 1950s. Shirley became a best-selling author and also managed to bring several worthy Christian and humanitarian causes to public attention during her lifetime. One such organization was Mercy Corps, a worldwide hunger relief initiative.
Pat’s beloved passed away in January 2019, from vasculitis, aged 84. Pat remained by her side until the very end, holding her hand. As they started, so they departed; hand in hand, forever loving and supportive.
The bereaved Pat spoke gently and lovingly of his wife: “She was so easy to love because she loved so easily and so naturally.”
Speaking to People, the music star continued: “She’s changed her address is all and moved to a different mansion that I expect to join her in one day,” he said. “I’m very confident of that.”
The life and love story of Pat and Shirley Boone is an uplifting reminder of the power of two. Shirley, you will be dearly missed and not forgotten.
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