Isn’t it funny how someone from your hometown, who you never really noticed, can become the love of your life? That’s exactly how things turned out for George Strait and his wife of nearly 46 years, Norma. George says she was the first girl he ever loved.
“We knew each other forever, growing up in a small town,” George told Houston radio station 100.3 The Bull. “I never really even thought anything about her, but then one day I asked her out and we went on a date. We didn’t see each other for a long time after that. Then one day, I thought, ‘I’m missing the boat here,’ and we started dating again.”
It’s a good thing Norma hadn’t written him off during their hiatus—the couple eloped in Mexico on December 4, 1971, shortly before George enlisted in the U.S. Army and shipped off to Hawaii. They also had a small church ceremony in Pearsall, Texas, where they both attended high school.
Their daughter Jenifer Lynn Strait was born on October 6, 1972 and a son, George “Bubba” Strait Jr., followed nine years later in 1981. George, who started his career performing with an Army band called “Rambling Country,” scored his first chart-making single, “Unbound,” that same year. He achieved a No.1-single, the first of 60 to date, with “Fool Hearted Memory” from 1982’s Strait from the Heart.
Life wasn’t always roses for the Straits, however. The marriage has weathered its (un)fair share of storms. Tragedy struck on June 25, 1986, when Jenifer was killed in a car accident in San Marcos, Texas. She was just 13. Though George has refused to talk publicly about the painful incident, in 2012 he told People he and Norma were “blessed to have been able to spend 13 years with our beautiful daughter.”
Norma was a stay at home mom until Bubba started college at Texas A&M University, but after that she joined George on the road until his retirement from touring. “We do almost everything together,” he said in 2012.
The Straits will celebrate 46 years of marriage in a few months. “Norma and I are so blessed that we found each other…and were able to do all of this together, experience this life together, to support each other through everything, good times and bad,” George told People. “We love each other and we still like each other. A lot!”
These days, George and Norma are embracing their new role as grandparents. Bubba and his wife, Tamara, gave birth to George Strait III, who goes by “Harvey,” on Feb. 2, 2012, and welcomed a daughter, Jilliann Louise Strait, on Sept. 10, 2016.