Couple gets engaged 63 years after proposal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2006

It took Earl Wilkey more than 60 years, but he finally got the answer he was looking for out of Louise Miller.

Wilkey first proposed to his high school sweetheart shortly after joining the navy during World War II.

But Miller didn&8217;t say yes until decades later, after a second proposal from Wilkey following a chance meeting at a high school reunion.

&8220;It&8217;s like they&8217;re 18 again,&8221; said Wilkey&8217;s son in law David Smith.

This weekend the 81-year olds will finally tie the knot in a small ceremony at the Antioch Baptist Church in Columbiana.

Louise returned the ring shortly after Earl&8217;s first proposal, returning to college at Montevallo, an all-girls school at the time.

&8220;I really was not mature enough for marriage then,&8221; she now says.

They each went their separate ways, Earl embarking on a naval career and Louise working as an airline hostess. Both eventually married, had children and lost spouses.

Then, in December, they met again at a Christmas reunion luncheon for their graduating class at Woodlawn High School.

Louise had moved to Tennessee after residing in New Orleans for more than 50 years.

When she mentioned a trip to Florida, Earl invited her to stop by his home in Fourmile.

&8220;When I opened the door I saw her and kissed her right there,&8221; Earl said.

&8220;I said that was it,&8221; Louise said.

Marriage plans came shortly after.

Earl&8217;s daughter said she was a bit apprehensive when her father first told her he planned to marry Louise just months after they were reunited. But that soon changed.

&8220;You hate to tell someone at 81 that they need to spend some more time to get to know each other,&8221; said Leannne Smith.

&8220;If you could be any happier,&8221; Louise said. &8220;I don&8217;t know what that would be.&8221;