“Bill and I knew each other when we were little. I never liked him – I thought he was a big smart aleck. I was working in the dime store behind the candy counter and my girlfriend Kay was working behind the toy counter. One day, Bill walked in and asked Kay for a date. You had to have a date on Sunday nights or you were nothing. Kay already had one, so he walked up and said, ‘What about you? Do you have a date?’ And I didn’t. He walked me home from the show and we held hands in the theater. I don’t really know how we started going together after that, but we were going steady when we were seniors. We used to trade our gum back and forth between kisses. I was a cheerleader and he was a football player and we used to go out after the games. We graduated in 1951 and got married in 1953.
“He enlisted not too long after that. My dad was in the Army during the First World War but he was already out before I was born. I didn’t know much about military life. Bill left for a peacekeeping mission in Germany just five days after our first child, Barb, was born. I moved in with my parents for awhile, and my mom took care of our daughter while I worked at the telephone office as an operator. We had a lot of fun at the telephone office. Three old maids ran it and us girls that worked there just laughed and laughed.
“Bill wrote to me every day while he was gone. I still have the letters. He was a company clerk and somedays he was very busy, but he’d still try to write. He came home Christmas morning, 1955. Barb was scared to death of him. He had to go to Chicago to get his discharge paperwork and was gone three days. He came home in the evening, and walked in with this great big blue stuffed dog. From then on, Barbie was a daddy’s girl, and she was until the day he died.
“He died on September 7, 2001 and was buried the day before 9/11. Our youngest daughter, Michelle, says that he went to heaven in order to welcome all of those people who were killed that day. I like to think that, too. He’s been gone 15 years. I miss his hugs and kisses, and I miss his laugh. But I look at our 4 children, 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, and I tell him all the time, ‘Look what we started.’”