July 31, 2012
Roland Davis was too young for marriage at 19.
“I was young and I probably made some mistakes,” Davis said.
He and wife Lena Henderson divorced in 1964 after 20 years of marriage. Now, after nearly 50 years apart, the two octogenarians will wed again Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y.
Davis and Henderson, both 85, first married in 1944 in Chattanooga, Tenn., their hometown. They were high school sweethearts.
She worked for an insurance company, he soon joined the Army. The pair had four children and moved to Massachusetts before eventually moving to Germany.
Henderson soon wished for more out of her relationship. “I won’t exactly say he was wild, but you couldn’t tie him down for anything,” she said.
She packed up the children and moved back to the United States. Unlike many divorces, theirs was not a bitter one.
“We were very good friends, no animosity towards him,” Henderson said. “He just wasn’t ready and I knew I had to buckle up and take care of the children.”
He remarried and settled down in Colorado, she had another child and both went their separate ways. But after Davis’ second wife died in the winter of 2012, their second-eldest child, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk, began to worry about her father.
“None of our family was out there [in Colorado],” Funderbirk said. “I wanted to be able to reach him quicker so I thought it would be good if he moved back here.”
She persuaded her father to move to Buffalo with the rest of the family. She thought it would be a good way to reconnect him with his family. But what she did not know was that her parents had done some reconnecting of their own.
Although Davis mentioned how much he still loved Henderson, unbeknownst to Funderbirk and the rest of the children, they had been talking on the phone for months.
“I never told the kids anything, it was not their business,” Henderson said. She added, chuckling, “It was grown folks’ business.”
As they rekindled their relationship, Davis decided that it was time to get his ex-wife back.
Davis, who still refers to Henderson as “Mrs. Davis,” popped the question on the phone. Henderson was initially reluctant, telling ABC News that she responded only with a “Let’s see.” She did warm up, however, much to the delight of her husband-to-be.
“I was always ready,” he said. “I was just waiting for her to be ready.”
Funderbirk said, “It’s like a dream come true. I’m 65 years old and I’m like a kid who’s nine, finding out that my parents are getting back together.”
She debunked her mother’s apparent nonchalance toward the wedding.
“She tries to be cool but when she put that dress on, you see her eyes light up, back straightens up. She’s a lot more excited than she lets on,” Funderbirk said.
The couple will be married at the Elim Christian Fellowship Center in Buffalo and look forward to being able to move in together without any of the normal newlywed jitters.
“I’m too old to be nervous,” Davis joked.
Henderson agreed, although there is one old habit that she is none too excited about revisiting.
“He leaves his underwear out now,” Henderson said. “But that’s not a problem. We can deal with anything that comes our way.”
using the number/letter grid:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q R
S T U V W X Y Z
A = 1 J = 1 S = 1
B = 2 K = 2 T = 2
C = 3 L = 3 U = 3
D = 4 M = 4 V = 4
E = 5 N = 5 W = 5
F = 6 O = 6 X = 6
G = 7 P = 7 Y = 7
H = 8 Q = 8 Z = 8
I = 9 R = 9
her primary challenge = LH = 38 = Being a good wife and mother.
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