Kathy and I met in June 1989 at an LDS Church Single Adult Conference in Long Beach, California. I had just returned from a military assignment to the Middle East (Jordan). My assignment there was wonderful. I worked closely with Jordanian military personnel developing and testing joint operations and tactics plans. I lived in a sparsely populated desert area in central Jordan. I stayed in a rundown old house with no toilet, no running water, and no bed. Each day, I showered and cleaned up in the tactical operations center about 5 miles away. It was Springtime and the weather was dry and mild. We did most of our work at night, but I was free to sleep during the daytime. I had plenty of time alone to contemplate, ponder, and pray.
Mostly, I thought about my children back home in Collinsville, Illinois. Our friends, Gene & September McAdoo, were staying with them, so I didn’t worry about the kids. I also spent prayerful moments pondered about my life as a single parent. I had been searching for about five years for a companion, but I was picky and wouldn’t settle for just anyone. (Of course, it was also hard to find someone who would take on a widower with seven children at home!) I was hoping the Holy Spirit would guide the right “special someone” to us. That Spring in the Jordanian deserts, I receive a distinct and confident feeling I would meet that someone when I returned home.
After my assignment, I flew home with my heart filled with hope. My daughter Heather was living in Monterey California at the time, and she was to graduate from High School in June. It was a long way from Jordan, but I flew to Monterey to be with her. After spending a few days of quality time with Heather, I continued my travel home to Illinois with a connecting flight in Los Angeles. However, my flight plans were delayed in LA, so I called some old friends there who invited me to attend the Single Adult Conference scheduled for that very weekend in Long Beach. It was at that conference’s Friday evening dance that I first met Kathy. I saw her when she first arrived and was attracted to her immediately. I was inside the building at the dance and saw Kathy through the double glass doors as she walked towards the building with a friend. Many other men must have noticed her too because it was some time before I was able to say hello or ask her for a dance. Eventually, I saw my opportunity and introduced myself. We danced several dances together that night and I really liked her. I noticed that we had many experiences in common. Most importantly, she was very familiar with military life: her father was a retired U.S. Air Force officer. I think she liked the fact that I was an active-duty U.S. Air Force officer; and, it didn’t seem to bother her that I was a widower with seven children at home. I remember she asked how many children I had. When I said “seven,” she said, “oh, do they live with you?” And I said, “of course they do. Where else would they live?”
Because of our homes, family, and work, our relationship was destined to be a long-range relationship. She lived in Las Vegas and I lived in Illinois. But I had a good feeling and Kathy seemed agreeable. During the next several months, we spoke on the phone a lot and made several exchange visits. To test our relationship, Kathy and I (and all our children) spent Thanksgiving 1989 together. By Christmas, all the traveling and long-distance phone calls had us totally exhausted. She was great, and I knew I loved her, so I decided to get serious and ask Kathy to marry me. At that time, Kathy had come to visit us in Illinois. On that particular day, we were on a tour of the St. Louis Gateway Arch Museum. Kathy and I (with most of the children) rode the archway tram to the top. I waited until we were at the very top of the Arch before I made it official. The Gateway Arch is the highest structure in St. Louis. So, of all the many people in St. Louis that day, at that very moment, we were at the highest spot in town. In fact, I even stood up on the seat at the highest point in the arch. And, while standing on that seat, I asked Kathy to marry me …and, she said yes! We were married and sealed just two months later (24 Feb 1990) in the Las Vegas Nevada LDS Temple.
Now, I think it’s important to say that Kathy was an angel for taking me on in the first place. And, I don’t think I will ever forget that she gave up her home and her job; and, she moved away from all her family and friends, bringing her two little children to Illinois to be a Mom to nine children …not to mention, the wife of this desperate old military man. Can you imagine the stress? It must have been a very difficult decision, but she says: “I had an answer to my prayers. So, I packed up my two little ones, and all our belongings, and came to live with the widowed Captain and his seven children.” It wasn’t easy for her either (I remember hearing her cry to herself in the bathroom). Thankfully, she stuck it out. Kathy and I have grown a lot together and we’ve had many wonderful experiences. She has a humble and firm testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she has been a great blessing to our family. She has been good to me and I love her. I’m a happy man.