Longview New Journal reports on a real live romance.
It’s been 57 years since the William James Junior High students parted ways. Gayle’s family moved to El Paso when she was 13. Ron grew up in East Fort Worth, joined the U.S. Army and got married while stationed at Fort Bliss (Gayle’s mother, of course, was there in El Paso to see her best friend’s son walk the aisle — and visit her daughter, who was a clerk at Texas Western College).
Gayle married three times — the first two men abused her and the third abandoned her, disappointments she detailed in a letter to the Rev. Andrew Doyle, the Episcopal bishop for East Texas, before the wedding. The girl Ron had married at the base outside El Paso left him a widower 17 years ago after 34 years together.
The couple’s reunion began like it’s inception. Nancy Kee, that best friend sitting with Gayle on the steps at Poly Baptist Church long ago and still in Fort Worth, was showing her bff the 1957 Polytechnic High School annual in preparation for a 55th reunion in 2012.
“He isn’t even in it,” she noted. “But, I told Nancy, ‘You know? I know a lot of these people.’ ”
She asked to join the reunion committee, and in October 2008 was at a reunion committee meeting at a Fort Worth barbecue house.
“And he walked in the door,” she recalled. “And I didn’t recognize him until he smiled. And I said, ‘Are you Ron? I’m Gayle.’ ”
Ron’s reaction? He found it difficult to describe it through a cracking voice.
“You know? Well, you know,” he said. “Here’s...”
He fell silent.
“Here’s a lady from a long time ago, even before high school.”
The couple became engaged in September 2010, once they got clear with each other.
“He always said, ‘I love you,’ but I said, what’s the ‘but?’ ” she said. “And I said, ‘Ron. It’s taken a long time for me to become me.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to change you, but you shouldn’t try to change me, either.’ But, inevitably, we will change because we want to.”
“And you do,” Ron added. “Because, both of you have got separate personalities.”
So that was settled.
“And he said, ‘OK, let’s get married.’ ”
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