Donna Williams and Joe Teague had loved and lost each other, and they were no longer looking for love when they found each other.
Donna had been married for 50 years when her husband passed away in 2010, and she found solace through a monthly bereavement support group at the funeral home that served.
“I had been attending this support group for two years and three months,” she says. “I had told the host that I wanted to keep going because I thought I could be an asset to the group because I could say, ‘I know you won’t believe it, but it will get easier. . ‘”
Few of the men attended these group meetings, says Donna, and those who only attended once or twice before walking away.
Joe had been married for 65 years when his wife passed away in 2012. He joined the group who were seated around a large table.
“When it was his turn to speak, he said, ‘My name is Joe Teague and I lost my wife, and this is my sister-in-law. She lost her sister,” Donna said. “I was like, ‘Isn’t that nice? “”
Joe, she discovered in a brief conversation, was the nephew of the choir director at her high school in Tulsa.
“I was like, ‘Now what are the chances of that happening? ”, Says Donna. “It was just a shock to me that there was someone I had a connection with through my high school choir teacher.”
Joe was back in the support group about a month later – again the only man present – and he sought advice from the women.
“He said, ‘Ladies, I would really like to have someone to talk to, but I don’t know how to go about it,” “Donna said.
Donna carried business cards with her to hand out to people interested in private music lessons, and she gave Joe one that day. She told him he could call her whenever he needed to talk.
“He didn’t call me, and I just gave it up,” she said. “Three months later, out of the blue, he called.”
He asked her if she remembered him, and she replied that of course she did.
They met for breakfast, and they talked for an hour.
“We had so much in common,” she says.
Both are Baptists, although active in different churches. Joe was a member of the Geyer Springs Baptist Church and Donna’s Church was Calvary Baptist. Both love music; Donna has been an organist at Calvaire for 45 years and directs the bell choir there.
When they had finished having breakfast the first time, he asked them if they could still have breakfast the following week.
“We kept meeting, and we had a really good time, so we kept meeting, and then we started dating,” she says.
A few months later, they shyly broach the subject of marriage.
“I said I would probably never remarry. I was fine. I had a nice house. My oldest son lives nearby. I was very happy, I was working at the children’s hospital when my first husband passed away and I was very happy there, “she says.” I was busy on weekends.
She recognized, however, that there was a void.
“I had a full-time job, but at 5pm when I got home from work, people were rolling their sidewalks and driveways and closing their doors and I was totally alone, and that’s the part that got me. hit, “she says. “I would watch TV for four hours every night, then go to bed. That was it.”
She didn’t really want to go out, but she missed having a mate.
“It’s just lonely,” she said, “especially when you’ve been married for as long as I’ve been to someone who shares my passion for music and so on.”
The same goes for Joe, who found himself wishing he wasn’t alone.
They weren’t sure about the logistics of the wedding – he had three children and she had two, and the merging of their households and adult families seemed intimidating.
“He said,” I think we should be living in your house because it’s newer than mine, and I think we should go to your church because you’re so active with your music program, “” she says. “So that’s what we did.”
They got married on April 22, 2013 in the backyard of Joe’s house, surrounded by his blooming azaleas. A mutual friend who was a minister officiated.
“The birds were singing and the flowers were beautiful,” she says.
Donna and Joe have traveled since their marriage, and they regularly shop for groceries together. They like to dine in restaurants; they exercise five days a week at a local church; and they go to the Bryant Senior Center to dance to country music one morning every week.
“He’s 95 and I’m 81. We have an unwritten agreement that the car has to leave the aisle at least once a day,” she says. “We love to go.”
Most of the time, they enjoy each other’s company.
“I wasn’t looking for a partner at all. It just happened,” she said. “I really believe that God in heaven has something to do with us getting us together.”
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The first time I saw my future spouse:
She said, “I thought he was tall and handsome.”
He said, “I had no opinion.”
On our wedding day:
She says, “We packed our bags and went to Hot Springs. We lazily walked through Garvan Gardens before checking into our hotel.
He said, “I was really nervous.”
My advice for a long and happy marriage:
She says, “Put the other person first: their wants, their needs, their health. I type out a whole list for the week and put it in the fridge so we both can look at it and find out what’s going on. So I say, ‘Joe, what are we going to do today?’ “
He said, “Love your wife forever and ever. It is more or less that.”