Bill and Sybil Newcomb said the secret to their 55 years of wedded bliss is not rooted in a newfangled trend or cutesy philosophy. The Spencer couple said their commitment to togetherness is based on one simple thing: They love being with each other. "We shared our lives all the way through. If one of us had a problem, we both had a problem. If one of us had something to be joyful about, we both had something to be joyful about,” Bill said, smiling. The Newcombs said they have rarely spent time apart, and it’s the key to their enduring union. From their dates sitting in a back booth of Kelly’s Lake Truck Stop in Bristow to their golden years of today, the couple said they have been together all the way. "We rarely go anyplace without each other. If you like something, well then, the other person should like it, too,” Sybil said. Their love and friendship have helped the Newcombs thrive as they raised two children together and experienced the highs and lows of various careers — he as an oil refinery worker and longtime rodeo performer and rodeo clown, and she as an Oklahoma County sheriff’s officer. And they’ve faced their share of challenges — but always together. They learned that Bill had a child he never knew about from a relationship he had before their own romance and subsequent marriage. Sybil was in the federal courthouse in downtown Oklahoma City when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was bombed in 1995. "We’ve been through some interesting times, but we have made it through,” Sybil said.
Life of love, laughter, hopeSybil said she and Bill met at a basketball game in Bristow. She said Bill had just come back from serving in the Army in Korea, and he was at the game with another girl. "There were no sparks right off,” she said. Sybil said she was a friend of his sister’s and captured Bill’s attention after she accidentally sprayed Bill and his friend with a soft drink. She said she insisted on taking the silk jacket (from his travels in Japan) he wore to get it dry-cleaned because of the mess from the soda. When Bill retrieved the jacket from the cleaners himself, he visited her home and romance blossomed. Sybil, 73, said her sister warned her about dating Bill, and some rodeo friends of his told her she didn’t know what she was getting into. Later, however, "they told me they thought I had tamed him,” she said, laughing. Bill said he knew he wanted to marry Sybil because she meant more to him than any other girl he had dated. He said he sold his professional bronc-riding saddle to buy her ring. She was 17 and he was 25 when they married. Sybil said they had very little besides a car when they started out, setting up house in a small rental. She said they reared their two children, Duana Newcomb and Billy Don Newcomb, in several states, including Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. Bill said he provided for his family by building gasoline refinery tanks and booster stations. Sybil said her husband’s life wasn’t all about work. As a rodeo clown, he livened up their lives, and she was there to support him. She said she made all of the costumes he wore, and she and her children enjoyed seeing his antics at the rodeo as much as the audience did. She said it seemed natural for Bill to eventually become Blue Nose the clown with the Shriners. He entertained as Blue Nose for 27 years and was named the International Clown of the Year in 1999. Their love of laughter didn’t come without some challenges, though. Twenty-two years ago, Bill got a call from a woman who told him he was her father. Sybil said she never worried about how to handle the delicate situation, because she knew the daughter was from a relationship that had ended before they began dating. And Bill, 80, said he had always told his wife "this isn’t my first rodeo,” referring to his previous relationships. The couple eventually met his daughter, Elaine Getscher, and welcomed her into the family. "Since I love him, I’ve got to love her, too,” Sybil said. "How could I not accept her? She’d been looking for her dad since she was 14.” The couple faced another challenge after Sybil went to testify in a court case at 9 a.m. April 19, 1995, at the federal courthouse, adjacent to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. She worked in the Oklahoma County sheriff’s office. Sybil said she went to offer help and ended up in the area that had housed the day care. At home, Bill watched the television news and waited for word about his wife. Her co-worker called him to tell him she was OK, but he said he did not stop worrying until she returned home that evening. When an exhausted and traumatized Sybil got home, Bill just held her in his arms. "I was glad to see that she was all right,” he said, recalling his relief. "I don’t know what I would have done without her.”
Encouraging othersThe Newcombs said they try to encourage married couples as much as they can. They said they advise couples not to go to bed angry with each other, and Sybil said she and her husband have never ended the evening mad at each other. "We might have angry words, but we don’t go to bed angry with each other,” she said. She said their best advice for married couples is to follow their example and enjoy many experiences together. It’s why they started square dancing in 1967 and continue today. Sybil said she makes most of their costumes and can still wear one of the dresses she made in 1976. They plan to dance their way through the next season of their multifaceted life — together.
Bill and Sybil Newcomb are the first couple featured in the "Oklahoma's Most Inspiring Couples" 2010 calendar, sponsored by the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative. Their faces can be seen for the month of February. The couples spotlighted in the calendar will be profiled in The Oklahoman's Life section each month. Couples selected for the 2010 calendar were nominated by their families and friends because of their commitment to marriage.