General Interest

Lucky in love: couple marries 58 years after first kiss

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Becky Asling Weinstein’s first kiss came when she was 6.

It was the end of the day, and Joe Johnston sat behind her in their first-grade class at Franklin Elementary School.

They were putting their books up and, when no one else was looking, "he just leaned over and kissed me."

And that was that – they went their separate ways. They both graduated from high school, went to Oklahoma State University, married, had kids and, in Joe’s case, helped invent the McDonald’s Happy Meal. But that’s another story.

Becky and Joe’s paths never crossed – at least not as far as they knew. But, decades later, they shared their most recent kiss at 64, sitting on the hearth of a long-time friend’s fireplace.

Above them hung a red-checkered banner reading "JOE & BECKY." It was their wedding reception, complete with brown bean chowder and cinnamon rolls like they remembered from years ago during their Tulsa Public School years.

As they whispered and laughed, another couple sat just a few feet away on a love seat – Peggy Cadenhead and Brad Place, who have become so close to the newlyweds that they refer to themselves as Joe and Becky’s "adoptive" parents.

Through varying single-digit degrees of separation, these two couples, who’ve known each other for years, both found love later in life.

Some say that’s the best way to do it. One wedding guest noted that it’s in those "golden years" when you’re more settled.

Peggy and Brad

Before their own golden years, those "adoptive parents" of the newlyweds also were married to other people.

Peggy’s husband and Brad worked at the University of Tulsa. They played poker together, and their wives played bridge.

Their kids basically grew up together, too.

Peggy’s husband died 26 years ago. Brad’s wife passed away about 10 years ago after battling Alzheimer’s.

"I kept admiring how devoted he was to her," Peggy said. "It endeared me to him."

Eventually, they started dating. And they still are.

"He needed somebody, and I did, too," she said.

Now, Brad is 91, and Peggy is 86.

"What can I say about Brad?" she wondered aloud.

"No more," Brad said.

A jokester, he kept making everyone laugh during our visit – right down to the signed photo of Bill Clinton in Peggy’s kitchen. Brad actually signed it.

"I like Brad because he’s funny," Peggy said.

"Odd," he retorted. "Weirdo."

It wasn’t like they had a first date, not officially, she said. They only live a few blocks apart.

"It was just easy, it just happened," Peggy said. "We really feel lucky to have each other."

But it’s her daughter, Karen, whom Peggy credits for bringing everyone together – she and Brad and Becky and Joe.

Karen was friends with Becky and with Brad’s daughter, actress Mary Kay Place.

Karen told her mother that Becky needed her – she wanted a mother figure, now that both her parents were gone. So Peggy "adopted" Becky.

"And I feel really lucky to have them," Becky said.

Becky and Joe

Perhaps it was luck or, as her wedding guests speculated, fate that brought Becky back together with that boy who gave her that first kiss.

"We’ve had lots of friends and experiences in common," the couple wrote on a fun fact sheet, which detailed their "parallels, near misses and close calls" – like each owning a black cocker spaniel when they were 4.

Both took piano lessons for five years. Both gave their pianos to cousins in Oklahoma City. Both walked to the Will Rogers Theatre for Saturday morning movies. Both applied to Peace Corps.

And both were in the same ballroom dance class at Skilly’s and can name everyone else in the class – except each other.

They even dated each other’s friends – but not each other.

"The whole thing was just weird," Becky said, chuckling.

When a mutual friend died in 2011, their paths finally crossed online.

Then, when Joe’s book "The Mack Marsden Murder Mystery: Vigilantism or Justice?" was published, he came to a book signing at Steve’s Sundry, which was basically his and Becky’s first date.

On Sept. 8, 2011, they went driving around town, looking at places from their "growing-up years," Becky said. They even went to their old elementary school, which is now Street School at 11th Street and Yale Avenue. The security guard took them on a little tour and, outside near where the playground used to be, Joe proposed.

"It didn’t enter my mind that he would do that," said Becky – who said yes.

Afterward, they joked about getting married at the school – joked enough, apparently, that it actually happened Wednesday afternoon, with Karen’s brother officiating. The bride wore blue, the groom wore stripes and jeans.

And, later that evening at the reception, their adoptive parents wore some of the biggest smiles in the room. 

(c) 2012 Tulsa World. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

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