Music icon Pat Boone and his wife, Shirley, enjoyed 65 years of marriage. But their relationship wasn’t easy. However, their faith in God helped them not to end up as another divorced couple, as is the Hollywood norm. After her demise, he believes they will be together and looks forward to their reunion.
Singer and actor Pat Boone stole many hearts with numerous hits like the blockbuster “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “State Affair.” Yet his prowess was not limited to films alone. He also made a name for himself with his music, releasing hit songs such as “The Love Letters in the Sand.”
His inspiration to write such heartwarming music came from his wife, Shirley Jones, who he fell in love with when they met at 16. Boone was on his high school basketball team, and Shirley was a new transfer student.
He recalls seeing his coach speaking to this beautiful girl. He asked his coach to introduce them, and an immediate mutual attraction followed. Soon after, they started dating.
However, the singer would reveal that they did not kiss for the first nine months as he did not want their relationship to be superficial — it was true love! The first threat of separation came when Shirley’s family needed to move away, but Boone fought for his love.
Special’ circa 1979 | Source: Getty Images
He realized he would lose her and decided it was the right time to ask her father, country legend Red Foley, for her hand. With tears in his eyes, Foley asked Boone:
“Will you take care of my girl?”
Boone said he would and recalls tears falling from Foley’s eyes because the plan had been to take his daughter with him all along, but now he would leave her behind. The lovebirds finally married at 19.
A MARRIAGE THAT LASTED A LIFETIME
Shirley Boone, Pat Boone appearing on the ABC tv special ‘Pat Boone and Family Thanksgiving Special’ circa 1978 | Source: Getty Images
Shirley and Boone’s marriage was unlike any other, and while they faced marital challenges like anyone else, they chose to make it work. They remained together for 65 years until Shirley’s passing in 2019.
In November 1953, the two eloped, settling in Teaneck, New Jersey, where they became parents to four girls in five years. They supported each other through their respective focus areas, with Boone working his way through rigorous Columbia University and Shirley raising their girls.
Singer Pat Boone (R) and his wife Shirley Boone attend a surprise party for Larry King’s 80th Birthday at Dodger Stadium on November 15, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
They would eventually move to Beverly Hills together, where they lived most of their lives, watching their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren grow up. Boone would say of his beloved wife:
“The thing that would most fulfill her was to be a good wife, and mother, and grandmother and to create happy homes.”
Even as Boone became a household name for his music, Shirley stepped up to become a best-selling author, humanitarian, TV hostess, and recording artist. The pair kept their marriage alive by taking several “honeymoons” together on ocean voyages.
Pat Boone and wife Shirley Foley Boone attend American Friends Of Magen David Adom’s Red Star Ball at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 23, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
While their marriage appeared like proverbial perfection, Boone confessed that that had not always been the case. In the beginning, as a young couple, they faced numerous challenges in their union.
Eventually, they found their way past the struggles. The “April Love” singer disclosed that one way to make a young romance work is by not hiding secrets from each other. He advises young couples to discuss their problems and not keep grudges:
“The more you hide emotionally from each other, the more apart you’ll be physically and mentally. Always share your innermost dreams and goals and never stop rooting for each other.”
THEIR MARRIAGE REVOLVED AROUND FAITH
Actress Shirley Jones and singer Pat Boone arrive to the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s 50th Anniversary Celebration on November 3, 2010 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
While staying open in their marriage helped them stay married longer, their faith played a significant part in the union’s success. Boone shared that even though their marriage was far from perfect, it helped to marry a magnificent woman:
“You make your commitments to God and each other, and in troubled times you hang on to the commitment to God and to your kids.”
Asked what the secret was, Boone said “God” because they had committed to him until they died. He mused over how they could have ended up as another divorced couple, as is the norm in Hollywood, but they made it through by going to church, reading the bible, and worshiping as a family.
Singer Pat Boone and his wife Shirley arrive at the 19th Annual Movieguide Awards Gala at Universal Hilton Hotel on February 18, 2011 in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images
Their unwavering faith also became a vital point of support for the music icon and his family when his wife’s health began to deteriorate. When a friend asked Pat if they could send the family a cry for prayer, Boone told them to, adding:
“Please do! We are expecting miracles…that Jesus be glorified.”
SHIRLEY PASSES ON
January 11, 2019, was a sad day for the Boone family and the world. Shirley passed away after struggling with complications from vasculitis, which she had contracted a year earlier. She passed peacefully at her and Boone’s shared home in Beverly Hills.
Singer Pat Boone speaks onstage at An Evening With Pat Boone at The GRAMMY Museum on June 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images
And while he mourned his wife the most, the “I Almost Lost My Mind” singer knows he will join his wife shortly as they are only separated for a little while. He believes that when someone dies, they have only changed addresses:
“I’ve parted with my better half for a little while… but we don’t die, we just move on to another place, and today was moving day.”
“She’s changed her address is all and moved to a different mansion that I expect to join her in one day.” He added, reminiscing about the beautiful 65 years they had shared.
Singer Pat Boone attends “Do You Believe?” Los Angeles Premiere at ArcLight Hollywood on March 16, 2015 in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images
Knowing he would join her someday relieved the pain from her passing because he believed they would soon be together again and have a new beginning.
Following the demise of the love of his life, Boone underwent an emotional period planning her memorial. Today, he takes it a day at a time and tries not to look at her photos.
Known for starting a billion-dollar Christian ministry, Shirley’s memories remain engraved in many people’s memories, especially for the selfless humanitarian work she did worldwide.
Actress Shirley Jones arriving at the Pat Boone 80th Birthday Celebrity Roast at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 1, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images
Together with other ministers and humane organizations, Shirley raised over a million dollars in a week, sending medicine and food to Cambodia to help with the hunger crisis.
Their organization eventually morphed into Mercy Corps, now one of the most prominent worldwide hunger relief organizations. Most will remember her for her desire to give selflessly, but the “Goodbye Charlie” actor has endless memories of how beautiful, honest, and deep his wife was.
Getty images – Instagram/Pat Boone