Be Mine: Local couples share love stories

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

Norbert and Mercedes (Schenk) Spellmeyer

It was World War II, and Norbert, a Jasper native was serving in the Navy. In his free time, though, he passed letters back and forth with a St. Philip lady, Mercedes Schenk.

After the war, Norbert returned to Jasper and made plans to meet his pen pal through, of course, letters. Once they met, their daughter Mary Jane Miller said it was love at first sight. They married in September 1946, almost exactly a year after the end of the war. Throughout their life together, they had eight children, 21 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. They’d been married 59 years when Norbert passed away in January 2006.

Today, Mercedes is 91 years old and is surrounded by the family she and Norbert began.

 

 

 

 

Janice and Terry Bond

Terry Bond worked at his father’s gas station one spring day when a pretty lady pulled in looking for an oil change. Terry was so taken with her that he gave her a full tank of gas and some extra work for free.

Later, Terry found out the lady’s name was Janice. When she’d gone home after the oil change, she recalled, her dad was angry and said, “People don’t just give you that kind of stuff.” Her father’s reaction prompted her to return to the gas station and thank Terry.

When she came back the next day to thank him, Terry asked her out.

Three weeks after their first date, Terry offered Janice his class ring.

“I’ll wear a ring when I have one to fit,” she remembers saying.

The next day, Terry surprised her with an engagement ring. Three months later, they married. They’ll celebrate their 44th anniversary in July.

“My life is better than it’s ever been,” Terry said.

 

 

John and Mary Carius

It was 1993 when Mary Carius was out with her daughters at St. Helen’s in Washington. A friend came in and asked about an old boyfriend.

“I told him no more men for me,” she recalled. “They want you for money, your home.”

Three men in a booth nearby turned to her and said, “Lady we wouldn’t treat you like that.”

The next night, she went on a date with one of them, John. They went to the Antique Bar in Washington to play pool and get to know each other.

John was a traveling photographer, and the two decided he’d contact her the next time he was in town. Mary worried he wouldn’t contact her because she had children, but he did.

For their second date, he took her to meet some of his friends.

After their second date, though, Mary got spooked. She figured between her children and her fear of water (he’d invited her swimming), he wouldn’t like her. She left a note on her door telling John she didn’t want to see him anymore.

“When my oldest daughter heard of what I had done, she read me the riot act,” Mary recalled. “‘Mom he is the nicest guy you have met in ages,’ she said.”

Mary took another note to John’s friends to pass to him, and then she waited. Two weeks later, he showed up at her house. They talked about her fears. He said that he loved kids, but didn’t want any of his own because he traveled so much.

“He didn’t want to be unfair to a child,” Mary said.

They started dating after that and were married on April 5, 1994 in a limo as it drove around Baumert Lake in Washington.

“We are still happily married after 22 years and 10 months,” Mary said. “Never had what you would say a real argument, you know a fight. He is kind and understanding man. Love did exist for us.”

 

 

Tom and Cheryl Englert

Ferdinand natives Tom and Cheryl Englert met 37 years ago. At that time, young singles would “take the whip”— drive their cars up and down Main Street until they crossed paths with a friend or ran out of gas. Cheryl often took the whip in her 1976 Pinto on the weekends. Tom did the same in his 1979 Ram Charger. Cheryl noticed the “handsome, curly-headed man” driving the Ram. She recalled that her heart started racing as soon as she caught a glimpse of the shiny black truck coming toward her every time. Tom admits that he was attracted to her, too. He decided to get her attention by turning the wheel and swerving slightly toward her lane as he approached her. Cheryl said she took that as a sign that he was interested in her.

Even though Tom and Cheryl both grew up in Ferdinand, they’d never met. Cheryl asked mutual acquaintances about Tom and found out they lived a few blocks from each other but had never met because Tom was seven years older than Cheryl. The two finally met face to face on Saturday night in Fleig’s Cafe. Cheryl was out with friends and ran into Tom in the hallway on the way back from the ladies’ room. She recalled that her heart skipped a beat when she saw him. He asked her if she’d like to go for a drive and she said, “Yes.” During the ride, they chatted easily and finally got to know each other. At the end of the drive, Tom asked Cheryl on a “real” date. She didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes.”

Cheryl recalled that Tom made her feel more special in that one evening than she had ever felt with any of the other men she had dated and was “head over heels in love with him” after that first meeting. She wrote in her journal that night, “I met the man that I am going to marry.”  

The two dated sporadically after that, as it took Tom longer to fall for Cheryl. He’d been through a divorce and vowed never to marry again. In between their dates, each dated other people, but eventually Tom realized no one was like Cheryl. In July of 1982 at the annual Ferdinand Fourth of July Picnic, Tom saw Cheryl standing with her friends and asked if they could go somewhere to talk. In a quieter area of the park, he leaned against the fence post and confessed that he couldn’t stop thinking about her. Each time he saw her on a date with another man, he said, he hoped that he hadn’t missed his chance. Cheryl had dreamed of this moment, and to this day says she couldn’t have scripted a more romantic, heartfelt sentiment. Tom proposed a month later, and they married on September 17, 1993. Cheryl said, “It’s been fireworks ever since.”  

 

 

Scott and Valeri Cockerham

Scott and Valeri met seven years ago on Match.com after Valeri saw Scott’s picture and thought he looked familiar. She didn’t contact him right away, but “something just kept bringing me back to his picture,” she recalled. When she finally talked to Scott, he told her they went to the same high school, he was two classes behind her, and he’d waited on her and a friend a few months prior at Buffalo Wings & Rings. When he mentioned Wings & Rings, Valeri rememberd thinking he was cute. She’d been dating someone else at the time, though, so she put him out of her mind.

Since their high school was small, Valeri figured he probably thought she was an idiot and that would be the end, but she’d actually made an impression on him. All of Valeri’s close friends knew him, and one told her his name was Scott. That was almost a deal breaker. Valeri had dated two Scotts, and the relationships ended badly. In February 2010, however, she decided to give this Scott No. 3 a chance and let him take her to the Calumet.

They’ll celebrate their five-year wedding anniversary on St. Patrick’s Day.

“The third time really has been a charm for us,” Valeri said.

 

 

Jacqueline and Tim Roos

Jacqueline was at band practice at Heritage Hills High School 12 years ago when she heard an unfamiliar voice behind her. She turned around and saw Tim, and “it was like the world shifted off balance,” she said.

She might have been a teenager, but Jacqueline didn’t believe in love at first sight, and she was determined not to marry until she was at least 30.

“I loved to travel too much to settle down,” she said.

But when she saw Tim, she knew he was in her future.

Tim had just returned from Afghanistan, and it took him a long time to ask her out. He’d never taken a chance like that before. For their first date, they went four-wheeling, much to Jacqueline’s glee.

“I’m a bit of a wild child,” she said. “You can’t just take me out to dinner, buy me flowers, and expect me to be impressed.”

She rolled her four-wheeler in the creek.

Two days after their first date, he took her to meet his family. She remembers they all looked at her confused because Tim had never brought a girl home before. Twelve years later, they’re getting ready to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary — in Iceland.

“I hear people say a lot that their husband is their best friend, but it doesn’t make sense for me to call him that. Best friends come and go. I can learn to live without them,” Jacqueline said. “The idea of living without him is like trying to learn to live without oxygen. I’m a hyper-independent person. I’m strong willed, and opinionated. I’ve never needed anyone in my life — except him.”

 

 

Dakota and Kaylee Dickerson

Dakota and Kaylee met in possibly the most unlikely of places: Walmart.

It was Sept. 2014, and Kaylee was working the night shift at Jasper’s Walmart Supercenter. Dakota always came in around 2 a.m. to hang out with a mutual friend during their lunch break. One night after lunch, Dakota followed Kaylee back to her station in the health department, feigning a need for a razor. Instead, he hung around talking to her until 6 a.m. They kept talking and had their first date on Halloween in 2014. Exactly one year later, they were married — proof that love can happen anywhere, anytime.

 

 

Ryan Stemle and Erin Weyer Gould

Erin and her sister, Kristy Ann, were on a “We Hate Love” date on Valentine’s Day 2015 when Ryan crossed their path at Summers Saloon in Celestine.

“As cheesy as it sounds, he looked at me and made eye contact and smiled, and I thought, ‘Oooh, I like him,’” Erin said.

Erin and Ryan talked a little bit on and off before finally meeting in person.

Six months before that Valentine’s Day at Summers, Erin’s co-worker had tried to set them up. They texted back and forth, but nothing came of it. Since she was casually dating someone else at the time, Erin left him hanging, which she still feels terrible about, and figured he hated her for it. When that relationship ended, Erin recalled thinking of texting Ryan, but chickened out.

“I assumed he thought I was a jerk for leaving him hanging,” she said.

When they finally met at Summers, she was pleasantly surprised. After they made eye contact, he came over and talked to her. They’ve been together ever since.

 

 

 

Alice Brescher and John Grelsa

Alice and John met in college at the University of Indianapolis in 2008. Alice was on her way back from lunch with a friend when they ran into John, who happened to be from the friend’s hometown. The group chatted for a few minutes, and as soon as they walked away, Alice asked who he was. Alice and John started talking casually on campus. When the time came around, Alice decided to get to know John better. She made him a bet.

“If the Steelers win the Superbowl you have to take me to Steak ‘n Shake for a milkshake, and vice versa,” she told him.

They dated for two years after that, but broke up when John joined the Navy.

“The military life at that time scared me,” Alice said.

For the next six years, they dated other people, but kept in contact as friends. They reconnected in Nov. 2015 through Facebook and started dating shortly after. Alice found out that John told his Navy friends she was “the one that got away.”

A few months after they started dating, John was scheduled for a seven-month deployment. This time, though, Alice wasn’t scared.

“Seven months is not that long in the grand scheme of things,” she said.

They emailed daily, sent snail mail and fought through tons of dropped phone calls before finally reuniting with what Alice calls “the best hug EVER.”

“Our long distance love story continues with so much more excitement and love to come,” she said.




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