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Love stories: Loved ones tell how it all began
Ray and Julie Buller of Riverton shared a kiss Tuesday on their 2 6th Valentine's Day as husband and wife. His sideburns first attracted her attention in 1979. Julie says the secret to a successful marriage has been "love honor and negotiate, till death do us part." Photos by Wayne Nicholls

Love stories: Loved ones tell how it began

Feb 14, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge Staff Writer

This past week I spent the majority of my time exploring the concept of love. I thought I had a pretty good gist of what it meant until I started talking to people who are currently in love. What was their secret? How did they find one another? How are they so happy?

With the exception of a few couples, the majority of the Riverton lovebirds I spoke with informed me that when they met their significant other, they just knew. Whether it was a feeling, a particular word or a devoted interest, they knew.

Regardless of age, love appears to arrive when you aren't necessarily looking for it. It comes when you might not think you want it, from a mutual friend setting you up, from a normal workday or a chance encounter and when it arrives, it conveys that no matter what words are said or the amount of time spanned, it will do great things. Love accompanies, it cherishes, it is patient, fun and sometimes hard, but love is always worth it.

As the couples explained their love stories to me there were sometimes tears, lots of laughs and a general sense of happiness from everyone. So, on this day of love, enjoy your stories, you have made it work. You have enjoyed living everyday life and in that life, found someone to stick around in the mundane moments, someone who makes everything all worthwhile.

Andy and Lori Davidson

Married 23 years

"He has the bluest eyes!" I said after a dance where I met him when I was in college. I later realized how when I met him again during bowling leagues. I was waitressing and had to talk to his best friend to find out anything about him because he wouldn't talk to me except to order another pitcher of beer. I only managed to make his best friend's girlfriend mad. A few more times of inviting myself to cruise around town with him and his friends, and a few drinks with them on my days off, and after a bunch of flirting and hinting around, I finally planted a kiss on him because I was growing old waiting for him to make a move. I will never forget the look on his face and he said he wasn't sure how I felt about him all this time. Hello?! He was so shy!

Six months later in June we went on a horseback ride across the river to the cliffs above an alfalfa field where there were some words swathed in the hay below. I couldn't quite make them out until he stuck an engagement ring in front of me. I then realized it said, "marry me."

Twenty-three years later, I'm still in love with the bluest eyes.

Christy and Don Nelson

We met at work. I had noticed him but didn't realize he was interested in me. It was Christmastime, and I was living in Nebraska and my family lived here in Riverton. I had decided that I was going to leave Nebraska and move near my family. When I announced that I was planning to go, my husband said, "Don't go." We started talking and I decided not to move. We lived in Nebraska for 18 years before moving to Riverton.

Lorie and Jerry Kintzler

Married 44 years

For the owner of Jerry's Flowers and Things, it all started in a math class. Lorie Kintzler recalls the budding romance that started over a math problem:

We were both attending Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. It was a required math class that every student had to take as a part of the core curriculum.

I was a very serious student and Jerry was a transfer from Casper College.

I was taking the class as a freshmen, and Jerry was a junior, and let's just say math was not Jerry's thing. Although he is very gifted and talented artistically, I had to help him with his math. We also had an art class together, so I saw him a lot, and after a while of being friends, he asked me on a date, and we dated for four years before we decided to get married. We were married July, 30 1967, and have been married for 45 years.

I think a marriage works best if he has his area to work and be creative, and I have mine. Our generation was of the mindset that when you got married, you married for life, and you worked through any sort of problems that might arise. We have made our marriage work because we are compatible and share some of the same interests. We are both interested in the fine arts and neither one of us is athletic, and we have just learned that our interests bring us together.

Scott and Audrey Houchin

Married 25 years

When Scott Mendenhall was dating Audrey Houchin, they had a secret password between them. The password was, affectionately, "I love you." One day as they walked through the swinging gate to Scott's parents' home, Audrey stopped and asked Scott for the password. Instead of the usual, "I love you" he added "Will you marry me?" Audrey said, "In a minute," and continued into the house.

Outside, Scott waited for a minute thinking she wanted to think about the answer to his question. After several minutes of waiting, he finally went inside. The evening went on and still no answer. The suspense was awful. Later as Scott and Audrey left, Scott asked Audrey again for her answer. She said, "I told you I would marry you 'in a minute.'"

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Steve and Nance Shelsta

Married 25 years

Our tale is not an exotic one, I fear. I returned to Riverton after having lived in San Jose and Ohio. I had just completed graduate school and was offered a job in Riverton. I also had just divorced, and I decided to move back with my two daughters "temporarily." My intent was to move back to California where I had family. Then two years into our stay in Riverton, Steve (who would become my second husband) attended a conference at Central Wyoming College. A social worker friend of mine also attended the conference and decided we MUST meet. It happened to be my birthday so she invited him to my birthday dinner. I was furious, but it turned out that I really did agree he was a terrific guy. We subsequently married. He then moved to Riverton from Casper, and we blended five teenagers. Twenty-five years later, we are delighted that a friend introduced us.

Randy and Kristin Watson

Married seven years

City of Riverton Secretary Kristin Watson recalls the first time she met her eventual husband:

I had just moved to Riverton and was working as a bank teller at First Interstate Bank in Walmart. There was a lady that came up to me and was asking me a whole bunch of personal questions: how old I was, if I had a boyfriend, if I had any kids. I have to say, I was a little weirded out by the lady. Little did I know that her great-nephew (my husband now) was working as an electrician at Walmart, fixing some lights. She called him and told him to come by the bank and check me out. Later that afternoon, he came to my window and asked if he could have change for a hundred dollar bill. I gave him his change, and then he asked me if I would go have coffee with him when I got off work. I agreed, we went to coffee, and the rest is history. We were married seven months later on July 2, 2005. We will be married for seven years this year.

When we first met, Randy was very quiet, but I could tell he was intelligent, determined and caring. As time went by, and we got to know each other better, I found that he is the most caring and loving person I know. His first impression of me (how he tells it at least) was that I was so beautiful that he could not find words (that's why I thought he was so quiet).

Our journey together has not been perfect, but perfect would be boring. I wouldn't change it for the world.

Julie and Ray Buller Jr.

Married 26 years

It was all about the sideburns for Julie Buller when she first met her husband:

Do I remember the person who made my heart skip a beat? Don't be silly, of course I do. It was only 32 years ago and he was the "Disco King"! We like to refer to it as the summer of '79. A co-worker made two failed attempts to set me up on a date with this really good looking "boy." He had well-dressed, long, blond hair, with long sideburns (side burns were hot back then), drove a hot, short bed, shiny white pickup. Finally on the third attempt, we were on a date, a date that did not turn out quite like I had hoped. I was a bit on the wild and woolly side, and and he was more the quiet and reserved type. We were definitely not a match made in heaven. Needless to say, another date was not in order, however as the summer of '79 progressed, we were pulled together quite frequently through mutual friends and mutual events/gatherings. As time progressed, we became friends and then even better friends, and soon we became best friends. New emotions began to stir, but neither of us wanted to ruin our friendship, not to mention the fact we were both dating other people. Then it happened! We were up in the mountains, hunting for Christmas trees (which has been an annual event ever since), and the moment presented itself and we shared our first kiss. Fireworks were flying everywhere, and so began our new adventure and our new life together.

We have been together exploring life since the "summer of '79," and we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary Sept. 7, 2010, and he is still the "love of my life," and he still "makes my heart skip a beat," unless I'm mad at him and then it skips several beats. Love, honor and negotiate, until death do us part.

Curt and Amanda Galitz

Married five months

Curt Galitz smiled from ear to ear when remembering the first time he met his wife, Amanda:

We were both attending CWC. I was 20, and she was 19. At the time I was a resident assistant and student body president, so I really enjoyed helping other people out. I noticed Amanda looked really confused and lost walking around the college, and I thought she was beautiful. I offered to help find her class, which I did, but I dumbly forgot to ask for her number. So, I left my class early to go sit outside her class and wait for her. When she came out, I told her I was the head resident, and if she ever needed any help with anything to call me, and I gave her my number. Of course I was being all smooth and giving her cheesy lines. She later sent me a text message and asked me to help fix her closet door, which she later told me she knew I had no way of fixing. I showed up to try to fix it and sure enough, I couldn't fix it, but we started hanging out and dated for three years before getting married Aug. 27, 2011.

For me, I love Amanda because of her fun personality, we don't always have to be doing something, but we just have fun hanging out. She is really loving, and ultimately brightens my day, and she wasn't turned off by me going and sitting outside of her classroom to wait for her, which is always a plus.

Mike and Mitzie Brumback

Married 39 years

Mitzie Brumback had no idea when she stood up to sing a song during morning worship at church, that her future husband would be sitting in the congregation:

It was Aug. 29, 1971, on Sunday morning at 10:45 a.m. Little did I know as I stood behind the pulpit to sing a special song during our worship service that my future husband would be sitting in the back of the congregation. I knew he was coming to visit and was hoping we would be introduced after the service. Unfortunately, my pastor forgot to introduce us that morning. There were only passing glances as we left the church. You see, my future husband's brother was my pastor. My only hope was to be introduced that evening. Following the evening service we all gathered for a bite to eat at the "Chicken Shack" (romantic huh?) and there my pastor introduced me to his good-looking, dark headed, baby brother, Mike.

I was 16. He was 21. He was from Virginia, and I was from Illinois. I was just beginning my senior year of high school, and he was at Central Office Technician for the phone company in Virginia. Four days later he proposed! He was smitten, and I was swept off my feet.

Later he told me he wanted to propose sooner but thought it would have been too soon, and I might say no. Ten months later we were married by my pastor, his brother, in a beautiful, candlelit ceremony in June. Our faith and God's timing brought us together and has kept us together through a lifetime of adventure designed by God himself. This June we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. I have often been asked if I believe in love at first sight, and I respond, "Absolutely!"

Robert and Shannon Stover

Married 19 years

Shannon Stover thought her husband had a cool stereo:

We met at McDonald's after being introduced by my stepsister. I thought he was really cute, but he had an amazing stereo and a really cool truck. Robert thought I was cute, and I asked him if he could play "The Dance" by Garth Brooks. It was homecoming and I was 16 and he was 17. We dated for a year and a half and were married June 20, 1992. Robert is a good father and sensitive to my needs.

We have now been married 19.5 years, and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Shari and Mark Haskans

Married 32 years

Shari Haskans was immediately smitten as she watched her future husband do a back flip in front of her:

It was 1978 and rush week at the University of Wyoming, so my new roommate and I had to take advantage of the happenings. I was standing in a circle of girls next to a 3- foot hedge on the ATO lawn. We were flipping our hair, trying to look captivating, laughing and imbibing, when I looked over and saw this boy do a back flip over the hedge. He landed right in front of our circle, spread his arms, and said, "Hello, ladies." I was so enthralled that I nudged the girl next to me and said, "I am going to marry that boy." We got married Aug. 1, 1980, and the rest is blissful history.

Ada and Gus McDonell

Married 56 years

It was love at first sight for Ada McDonell as she found her real cowboy, who was unlike the other buckaroos.

My cowboy and I met in Elko, Nev., at the Commercial Hotel Restaurant in October 1955. My girlfriend Peggy and I were at the counter. I was a telephone operator and Peggy was a hasher in a restaurant. Peggy didn't have enough butter for her baked potato, and she said the first cuss word she had ever said in her life. I was shocked and looked over at her. Then, I saw him a few stools down. He was grinning at me. It was love at first sight for me even though we hadn't even met. He was a real cowboy, not like a buckaroo, like some other men. And his smile was very special. Peggy and I finished our meal and left.

The next day we were playing "21" at the Commercial Hotel with $10 some sheep herders had given us. The agreement was to split any winnings with them even though we had a hard time understanding their accents. Then the cowboy I had seen the day before came in and stood alongside us. We talked a little, and then he asked me to take a drive with him, offering me a ride back to the room Peggy and I rented in a woman's house. We drove around the countryside and boom! He asked me to marry him! It was love at first sight for him too. Eight days later we tied the knot after he hawked his saddle to get some money to marry me. When a cowboy hawked his pride and joy of a saddle, people knew it was serious back then.

A year later, we got the saddle out of hawk and a little girl. Three years after that my cowboy told me he had seen me walking to work before we ever met at the Commercial. he told his friend at the time, "I'm going to marry that brunette." Six years after that we got a little boy. Fifty-six years later we are still together, and if there is such a thing as love at first sight, we are living proof of that.

Brett and Rachelle Roberts

Married five years

Handwritten letters and long phone calls allowed a romance to strengthen for Rachelle Roberts and her husband, Brett:

One day I was standing on the university forum, and I saw a stunning, blond-haired, blue-eyed, tan young man walk by a distance away. Something within me hoped that he would be my husband one day, but I didn't even know his name, let alone spoken to him or seen him prior to that. While in an English composition class, our professor told us we needed to find a partner to interview. I looked around and to my surprise, this same young man was sitting near me so we decided to interview each other for the class project. Although the interview pointed out we weren't meant to be study partners by a long shot, in the end we would become a wonderful pair. We got to know each other for a few months before dating. Soon the college semester was over, and both of us were headed off to different states to work for the summer.

We stayed in contact even while apart, making a couple of short visits to one another as our jobs allowed. In July, I got a surprising call saying Brett had been deployed with the Army Reserves. Needless to say, I was a wreck, not knowing where that left our relationship and fearing the safety of my boyfriend. Luckily, God knew what that summer and the following year held for Brett and me. For my summer job, I was placed with different host families every couple of weeks, and the crazy thing was that each family I stayed with had a family member who was currently deployed or who had recently been deployed with the military. They were able to give me reassurance and advice as Brett went through training to prepare him for deployment.

Through Brett's deployment we stayed in contact through long phone calls and handwritten letters. It wasn't uncommon for us to write nine- to 16-page letters a few times a week, in addition to almost daily phone calls. We kept all the handwritten letters, hopefully to share with our future children and grandchildren. When Brett was able to visit the states during his R&R, we got engaged. Three months after the deployment, we were married in my hometown.

When we look back to the deployment that could have torn our new relationship apart, we see the most important things that the time apart taught us, like how to communicate well, and that traveling is more enjoyable when we can do it together. Since the five years of being married we have enjoyed traveling together internationally, going to art galleries, cooking international cuisines, playing board games and just enjoying being near one another.

Steven and Marielle Weaver

Married 14 years

City Administrator Steven Weaver met his wife over a plate of cookies:

My wife and I met in January 1997 at Boise State University. She delivered cookies on a glass plate to my apartment, which meant that I obviously needed to return the plate to her. When I returned the plate, I asked her out on our first date. We continued to date, and in the late summer of 1997, I proposed to her at a site overlooking Boise. We were married in St. George, Utah, Nov. 21, 1997. We honeymooned in Sedona, Ariz., and a year later went on a second honeymoon to Cancun. We have lived in Idaho, California, Oregon and now Wyoming. We have four boys ranging in age from 2 to 11 years old.

David and Laura Toppenburg

Married 10 years

Laura Toppenburg met her husband through a mutual friend:

My husband, David, and I met on a blind date. We had a mutual friend who set us up by telling both of us that we were "perfect" for each other. We had both been married before, and I was not ready to date again, but he was, in fact, he was ready to find a wife! Our first date seemed more like a job interview than a date, but he was very sweet, and I became fond of him right away. After only five months of dating, he proposed to me. We were married in a private ceremony at Lake Tahoe and have been very happily married for the past 10 years. I think our secret is our love for God and our willingness to let each other be themselves, that and he is a great kisser!

Ron and Helen Warpness

Married 40 years

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness didn't realize that when he started work on a construction site, he would be meeting his future wife:

My wife, Helen, and I met on a road construction job in Worland in the summer of 1971. I was a foreman for Gilpatrick Construction Company, and she was the best-looking flagman I had ever seen. She held up a stop sign, and I did. She was also waiting tables in the evening at Antones supper club, and I found that being a good tipper helped my cause. The fact that I was driving a 1964 Corvette did not hurt either. I was 29, and she was 20. We got married Dec. 4, 1971, by Helen's uncle.

The thing I like the most about Helen is that she is just an all around classy lady. She is a lot of fun but is a very responsible and dependable person who is a great wife and a wonderful mother to our two daughters, Heather and Wendy.

Mike and Kristen Broadhead

Married 15 years

Police Chief Mike Broadhead didn't realize he would meet his future wife, Kristen, when he donned his Sperry Topsiders and walked into the bank where he kept his account:

Kristen was a teller in a bank where I kept my accounts, and I thought she looked cute so I asked one of the officers who did security there part-time to find out what her deal was. She wasn't dating anyone at the time, so I asked her out to lunch. We ended up dating a little more than three years before we got married. I was 30, and Kristen was 29 when we wed.

We have been married now for more than 15 years. My advice would be to have a freakin' sense of humor and give each other a break. Sometimes you are going to irritate each other, it's just the way it is. Give each other some space and don't act like it's the end of the world.

His wife's part of the tale is:

I liked his shoes. He was wearing Sperry Topsiders, and I was a sucker for anything preppy at the time. He seemed nice, and I had not met him prior to him asking me out for lunch.

Rex and Sue Whitman

Married 38 years

Sue Whitman didn't realize that dressing as one of the three little pigs would be the start of a relationship with her husband, Rex:

My husband and I met in college. Rex was a senior music ed major, and I was a freshman in the same field. I think that he was afraid of graduating, and then teaching in a small rural Wyoming school with no single females, so he was looking over the freshman crop. I had recently broken up with a high school boyfriend and had every intention of staying unencumbered for at least my first two years. Rex, however, had other plans. He would show up after supper offering rides for the music majors after musical rehearsal, in the music building's practice rooms, Saturdays for trips to the local Taco Johns; he was not the least bit obvious. I heard through the department rumor mill that he was going to ask me to the homecoming dance, and as he was shorter than me and the only other Rex I had ever met had four legs, I did the cowardly thing and arranged to go with my partner in the select choir. On the day of the homecoming, we marched in the college band together, and then I ran back to the end of the parade and he put on his Mickey Mouse ears. I donned my costume as one of the three little pigs and jumped on the float. We had a blast laughing and waving through the parade, and then, just as I removed my pig head, he gave me a very sweet kiss on the cheek. We spent the rest of the day together talking, walking all over town, disassembling the float and really enjoying each other's company. He eventually walked me back to my dorm (way before co-ed), and I got ready for the most boring evening of my life. I spent the night watching the door just in case Rex came, hoping for a speedy ending to a very long night. That was 40 years ago. I have never met another man who is more funny, loving, caring and compassionate. He has been a wonderful husband, great dad and granddad for 38 years. He describes himself as persistent because stubbornness is a sin -- well whatever he calls it, I am so glad he was.

Luther and Jan Tucker

Married 56 years

When Jan Tucker got word that her boyfriend at the time was breaking their date, she decided to spend time with friends, not knowing that she would soon meet her future husband, Luther:

Jan: We were both at a dance hall in Castle Rock, Colo. We both weren't very good dancers but had gone to the dance hall with different groups of friends. My boyfriend at the time had called and canceled the date he had with me that night due to an old friend of his coming in from out of town. I decided to go out with my friends to the dance hall, and I saw Luther with his friends and thought he was rather handsome. I went over to him and said, "You don't know it yet, but you are going to marry me." I can't explain it, but I just knew from the minute I saw him that I was going to marry him.

Luther: When she said that, I had no other choice than to OK.

The couple dated for two months and eloped to Ratoon, N.M., when Jan was 20 and Luther was 24. The two have been married for 56 years. With two children, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren (and one on the way), the two are still madly in love.

Jan: We have pretty much travelled around by ourselves throughout the years, and we have become dependent on one another, and we learned to agree on what is important in life.

Luther: Yeah, and I have learned to listen to what she says.

Jan: You aren't supposed to say that, Luther, you are supposed to talk about how much you love me.

Luther: Oh yeah, I love her. Truthfully though, we didn't always make the right decisions, but they were right to us, and that is all that matters.

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