It’s not uncommon for divorced couples to reconcile later on and remarry, but a Buffalo, N.Y. couple has proven uncommon, indeed. Roland Davis and Lena Henderson were high school sweethearts. Their incredible journey brought them back together again and they remarried…after 48 years apart.
Their story began in 1944 in their hometown, Chattanooga, Tenn. It was a classic high school romance that culminated in marriage. Looking back, Mr. Davis admits he was “too young” at the tender age of 19. “I was young and I probably made some mistakes,” Mr. Davis said. They were married by a justice of the peace, and on their meager incomes couldn’t afford a wedding reception or a honeymoon.
Ms. Henderson soon took a job at an insurance agency, he worked as a bellhop at a Chattanooga hotel, and later enlisted in the U.S. Army. The couple had four children and lived in Massachusetts before he was stationed in Germany and the family made their transatlantic move. They had the perfect marriage and the perfect family, but all was not perfect. Ms. 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.
Twenty years after their humble wedding, the couple divorced. It was 1964. Ms. Henderson packed up the kids and moved back to the ‘States. Despite two decades of marriage and four children, their divorce wasn’t bitter. “We were very good friends; [I had] no animosity towards him,” Ms. Henderson said on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition . “He just wasn’t ready and I knew I had to buckle up and take care of the children.”
Mr. Davis remarried and settled down in Colorado; she had another child and they went their separate ways. In the winter of 2012, Mr. Davis’ second wife died. Mr. Davis and Ms. Henderson’s second-eldest child, Johnnie Mae Funderbirk, began to worry about her father, she told Morning Edition. “None of our family was out there [in Colorado],” she said. “I wanted to be able to reach him quicker so I thought it would be good if he moved back here.” She convinced her father to move to Buffalo, N.Y., where the greater family had settled. It would be a good way to get her father reconnected with his family, she thought. Little did she know, her parents had been doing some reconnecting of their own.
The Second Time Around
Mr. Davis often said he still loved his ex-wife, whom he referred to as “Mrs. Davis.” Funderbirk said she found out the star-crossed couple had been talking on the telephone for months. In fact, Mr. Davis proposed to his ex-wife during one of their regular calls. “I never told the kids anything – it was not their business,” Ms. Henderson said. “It was grown folks’ business.” She told NPR she was initially reluctant to respond, and the best answer she could give was, “Let’s see.” Mr. Davis had certitude all the way.
“I was always ready,” he said. “I was just waiting for her to be ready,” he 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,” Funderbirk said.
Mr. Davis and “Mrs. Davis” got their church wedding and restaurant reception last July – with four generations looking on.
After almost 70 years, their love story came full circle. Now, both 85 years young, they are excited about starting a life together…all over again.
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