I married Kathy Jo Shively on November 28, 1969. I will try to tell this whole story. It might surprise some of you, but Kathy and I have decided it’s our story and we will tell it as it truly happened. I knew Kathy and her family when they lived in Omaha in the 50’s. She was just a little girl then, but as far as we knew we were cousins.  (The picture on the left has her sitting on our fireplace next to her dad). My mother and her father were sister and brother. My mother’s maiden name was Shively.  Her older brother Mike and I would play together when the families got together but not real often. I knew who she was but ignored her and her me. I have some old movies of the families together (see the family link to home movies) back in the 50’s. They lived in Benson at that time so we didn’t get to see a lot of them. But we were together at family gatherings etc. She was a cute little girl wasn’t she?

When her family moved to California in 1959, I didn’t see them again. Then in 1968, I decided to take a trip to California and visit my Grandpa and other relatives that were living there. I stayed with him in his house in Norco for the first couple of nights, but was then invited to stay with Jean and Freddie, Kathy’s mom and dad. Kathy was 17, I was 21. We immediately had a “thing.” But we knew nothing could ever come of it because we were cousins.  The picture here to the left is the absolute first picture of us together. It was taken in December 1968 at aunt Delores’ house. The picture has Mike and Dorothea in it also, but I clipped them out for this blog. Kathy had vacation time over the Christmas holidays and drove back to Omaha with me in the 1968 firebird. It was an awkward trip. Kathy stayed with my folks and I saw her just a couple times while she was in Omaha. I didn’t want to get involved and I was afraid of my feelings for her, so I just avoided her. I think I hurt her feelings on my 22nd Birthday, when she baked me a cake before she flew back home to California. I didn’t show up.

It was in 1969 that I was transferred to South Carolina. It was a difficult fall for me there, all alone and bored out of my mind in many ways, so in November I decided to drive to California again.  Why? You might ask! Gramma Teresa Shively passed away in 1968 and it was on her death bed that Mom learned that she was not a real Shively, but had been adopted. It came as a huge blow to her and to some others. I had traded in the 1968 corvette that I had at that time for a 1970 SS Nova. I stopped in Omaha and picked up Steve Shively, my cousin, who wanted to go to California and visit relatives also. We drove straight through and stayed with Grandpa but ended up at Jean and Freddie’s again. Kathy also learned that we were not first cousins and it kind of opened the flood gates. We decided to elope. I left Steve there and Kathy and I drove from California to Hutchinson, KS where we hoped to get married. Her parents had given their blessing when we left, but had changed their mind once we were gone. We stayed with Bob and Sharon Gronewoller in Hutchinson for almost a week trying make arrangements to get married.  Bob took several pictures of us on that stop. We did not see these pictures until 25 years later. But since we could not get permission we drove on from there to Omaha. Had interesting discussions with my mom and dad who were also against our marriage, but eventually came around. We drove straight through to Greenville, SC and married the next week when KJ turned 18 on the 27th of November 1969 but that was on thanksgiving day that year so we had to wait until the 28th to get married. We married at the Greenville, South Carolina Court house. The judge’s secretaries were our witnesses. Kathy dropped out of High School in her senior year to marry me. Wow! Everyone said that she’d never go back and she’d be a high school drop out all her life, but that was not to be the case with us. I took it very serious that she had made such a sacrifice for me and we made sure she finished High school. The schools in South Carolina wouldn’t let her in because she was married, so we had to deal with it by correspondence courses. She was scheduled to graduate in 1970. She graduated in October of 1970. Further, she has since earned an Associate Degree, a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s Degree.

The marriage was very rocky for the first 10 years, but thanks to our commitment to Christ, (see our testimony) we brought it back together and have been together ever since. In November 1994, on our 25th wedding anniversary we were married at Country Bible Church. Bob Gronewoller walked KJ down the aisle, Dr. Jim Eckman, from Grace University did the cermony for us and we made some great memories. Both of our sons sang songs for our wedding and Kathy got a beautiful gown.  We had “glamour shots” take portraits of us and now we have memories. I wore my uniform! Lots of our family members came and participated. Dave and Maggie and Maureen were our unofficial wedding party. We had a great reception with cake and everything. Maybe we’ll do it again on our 50th! It’s hard to believe that this 25th wedding vow renewal was 17 years ago as I write. We’ll celebrate our 42nd, this year, 2011 on November 28th. Wow, the years just fly by. It’s been a great run for us and I think we’re as happy as any couple ever was. We’ve had our struggles, and things are still not perfect. Yet we’ve decided that “divorce” just isn’t going to be part of any discussion. It’s out of the question! Murder? Maybe, but not divorce! (Kidding!)