Happily Ever After

Some of the most romantic gifts for Valentine’s Day are the collections of sweet memories that have been gathered over generations from couples of every age.

Shoun & Ranju Thomas

For newlyweds, Shoun and Ranju Thomas, love was found miles away in the state of Minnesota. Shoun, a mechanical engineer from Oklahoma, met Ranju while he was there for work related travels.
On the night of his proposal, Shoun knelt down and took what looked like an expensive ring but really cost only a dollar. “I had absolutely no idea he was going to propose – I was just so excited we were engaged!” Ranju said.
The couple then decided to take pictures in a photo booth at the Mall of America, with Ranju unaware that the real proposal moment was only minutes away.
“In the middle of our mini photo session he asked me if I wanted to switch rings,” she said. “I was confused. When I looked up at him, he had a real ring in his hand! I was quite surprised and we got an awesome photo strip!”
“I was just relieved that all my plans worked out well and went about without a hitch,” said Shoun. Married last November in Oklahoma City, Ranju said, “The time we get to spend together is probably the best thing in our marriage so far.”

Scott & Brandy Spires

Scott and Brandy Spires first met in a crowded room on Scott’s birthday. It sparked an instant connection. “The night before we had both prayed to find someone and the next day we met each other,” said Brandy.

After three years of dating, Scott proposed to the woman that had become his best friend. The location was special to Scott as it was his favorite childhood place – a pond near a big oak tree by Lake Hefner. “The place had meant so much to me that I wanted to share it with her,” said Scott.

On Brandy’s birthday, a simple morning outing for breakfast transitioned into a romantic engagement scene overlooking the pond. “I looked at her and said, there’s no one else that makes me feel the way you make me feel and I love being with you every moment,” Scott revealed.

Then on one knee and ring in hand, it was a picture perfect proposal that had been long awaited. One year later on June 24th, 2005 Scott and Brandy were married in an old renovated movie theater, a sentimental venue that reminded them of their first date at the movies.

“Married life has been fantastic and communication and faith have made our relationship work,” said Scott. “We knew we were meant to spend the rest of our lives together – I think we were put together by God and it’s a blessed relationship,” Brandy said.

Gene & Dorthy Hellstern

Gene and Dorothy Hellstern of Edmond have been happily married for 61 years. Gene, a retired professor, taught for 30 years at UCO. His wife Dorothy, a retired schoolteacher, taught in Midwest City and at Oklahoma Christian School. Their passions for teaching and ministry united their hearts during a time of love and war.

Towards the end of World War II in 1944, Gene had joined the navy in Dorothy’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Dorothy’s mother, being very patriotic, offered to take in some of the sailors to join the family for Christmas dinner – one of the sailors was Gene.

“I was very much in love with this Memphis girl,” said Gene. The night before Dorothy’s graduation, Gene was shipped to another location. They kept in touch by writing letters and every time he had a seven-day leave, he divided it between his parents’ home in South Haven, Kansas and Dorothy’s home in Memphis. “She was a lovely, pretty, Christian girl – the type of girl I wanted for my wife,” he said.”

To this day, Dorothy remembers a sermon she heard when she was 15. The message was, ‘You need to ask God to bring you the right mate.’ “When Gene started coming to my home and I saw that his values were the same as mine and he loved the Lord, I knew he was the one,” she said.

On Christmas Day, 1946, Gene and Dorothy married and went on to pursue ministry at Phillips University in Enid. “We knew what we were going to do and we set out to do it,” said Dorothy. Since their anniversary falls on Christmas, the Hellsterns have celebrated by traveling the world over the years to Europe, the Middle East, Palestine, Egypt, Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

“The best thing about our marriage was that we went into it for the long haul. There was no question about it,” said Dorothy.

“We were always a team and it’s been a demanding life, but a very satisfying one,” Gene said.

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