March 22, 2023

Leroy Slater was intrigued by Carolyn Peyton the first time he saw her. She thought he was passing through, and didn’t give him a passing glance.
Leroy was a student at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock in 1970.
Carolyn had graduated from Philander Smith College in Little Rock and was teaching; Leroy had taken time out of his education to serve in the Army in Vietnam before starting college courses in art and social studies.
After class one day he went with a group of friends to take another student home. That student, Lorraine, was Carolyn’s sister — and her roommate.
Carolyn was at their apartment when Lorraine arrived, and Lorraine introduced her to everyone, including Leroy.
“She said OK and kept walking,” Leroy says. “She thought one of the girls I was with I was dating.”
Lorraine didn’t give up.
“She just thought he was my type,” Carolyn says. “She thought he was nice.”
She and her boyfriend invited Carolyn and Leroy to have dinner.
“It wasn’t a real big dinner. It was just something casual — just hot dogs,” Carolyn says. “We weren’t expecting to end up married. We were meeting up to be casual friends.”
Carolyn had no trouble conversing.
“He’s from a big family, I’m from a big family, so we talked about family stuff, and we talked about his service,” she says.
Still, Carolyn thought he might be too worldly to be considered a romantic interest for her.
“He had been in the service, traveling abroad and all that stuff,” she says. “I thought he probably had other interests.”
She wondered if he would stick around. Because he was fresh out of the service, she thought he might be passing through Little Rock on his way to other things. Thus, she had no intention of getting close.
Meeting Carolyn actually gave him a reason to stick around, he says.
“As soon as I got out of the service I went to New York to work,” he says. “I was supposed to go back … but she latched on to me.”
Carolyn had taught in Ohio the year before and had returned to Little Rock to help care for her father and she had taken a job at Hall High School.
Sometime after they had dinner, she invited Leroy to watch football games at Hall.
“It just kind of grew from that because we would always go to some hamburger place after,” she says. “We just enjoyed having company with each other.”
Leroy initially resisted a romantic evolution of their relationship.
“I thought we would just be casual friends, socializing and doing some of the same things,” he says.
Carolyn says that might have been because he had other opportunities at the time.
“There were other females around that he was interested in,” Carolyn says. “He was just kind of sitting around, scoping things out, I think.”
Leroy says he wasn’t serious about anyone before Carolyn, and he didn’t really like that she was dating other people, too.
“I went in and told her one day, ‘Look, we’ve got to stop this. We can only see each other,” he says.
They had dated for more than a year when they got engaged. There was no question about whether Leroy needed to talk with Carolyn’s father first.
“My daddy had a speech impediment after a stroke so he didn’t talk very much, but I still had to be asked for,” she says. “I couldn’t just say, ‘Well, I’m going to get married.'”
Carolyn and Lorraine shared an apartment with their brother, William, and both Lorraine and William had gotten engaged around that time. They planned to marry a week apart the following August.
Carolyn and Leroy were thinking of marrying around Valentine’s Day the next year.
“But everybody was leaving me,” she says of her sibling roommates. “So it moved our date up.”
They were married on Sept. 2, 1972, in the Peyton family home in Carlisle.
Carolyn didn’t know the school district would allow her to take time off after her wedding.
“I thought I had to get married on that Saturday and go back to work on Monday. That weekend was Labor Day, so it gave me an extra day,” Carolyn says. “The only place we went was to my husband’s hometown, Cotton Plant, to see his mother.”
Leroy jokes that he has paid for not taking Carolyn on a honeymoon.
“For 20 years I had to take us somewhere when school was out,” he says.
The fact that they had the opportunity to travel around the country each summer could be attributed to Carolyn’s power of persuasion.
“Believe it or not, she’s the one who talked me into changing my major to education,” he says.
Carolyn retired after 38 years of teaching, and Leroy retired after 30.
Carolyn, Lorraine and William, all married to their spouses within a three-week span, will celebrate their 50th anniversaries together on Sept. 3, during a party planned by their children.
“We don’t really know anything about it,” Carolyn says. “They have all the information and they will not tell. It will be surprising all the way from the beginning.”
If you have an interesting how-we-met story or if you know someone who does, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:

The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “He was a cool guy, and down to earth. He was well-groomed.”
He says: “I thought she was gorgeous. But she ignored me.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “I was very disappointed that my mother could not make it. The information they were given was that the wedding would be at ‘the house’ and they thought that meant Little Rock, not Carlisle.”
He says: “My best man was late getting there, too, because he was confused by the directions.”
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: “It’s a lot of give and take, listening, communication and putting God first in decision-making.”
He says: “When you come to a fork in the road you have to realize the course you’re on. Don’t get distracted.”

Print Headline: What started as passing glance ended in marriage
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