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Love in the southwest


With Valentine's Day just ahead, View looks at stories of how some area couples met.

WASTING NO TIME

Southwest residents Bob and Ann Brown wasted no time starting their lives together. They married a little more than four months after meeting.

Bob was a teacher and basketball coach at Bishop Gorman High School at the time. Ann was a nurse and living at home with her parents. Her younger sister was a student in Bob's class.

"My sister introduced us," Ann said. "I didn't realize what she was up to at the time. Unbeknownst to me, my sister was trying to get this going."

Bob, 29 at the time, took Ann on their first date on Aug. 17, 1975. It was Ann's 22nd birthday. He picked her up at her house and met the family.

"The first thing they wanted to know is would I like something to eat," Bob said. "She had a really fun family, just great people to be around."

In the subsequent weeks, Bob found any excuse he could to see Ann every day. After a date one night in October, Bob brought Ann back to her parents' home, and the two went into "the good living room" in the house.

With her parents upstairs sleeping, Bob got down on one knee and proposed.

"I was 29, and I saw what I wanted," Bob said, "a nice person ... who loves to cook. And that hasn't stopped.

"I didn't ask her dad first. That was probably a little inappropriate, but he didn't care."

Bob did not have a ring for Ann yet, but she accepted his proposal. After Bob left, she woke up her parents to tell them the news.

"He was just a really nice person," she said. "He's like the all-American guy. He's this coach. He's an athlete. He came from a good family. He had good values."

As a basketball coach, Bob wanted to scheduled the wedding during the winter break before conference play started.

"I said, 'What, are we going to get married at halftime?' " Ann said.

So they married Jan. 3, 1976. The wedding itself would prove a little tricky. Bob was Mormon, and Ann was Catholic. To satisfy both sides of the family, a Mormon bishop and Catholic priest stood at the altar together and presided over the ceremony.

"People thought we were pulling their leg," Ann said. "It was so unusual to have this kind of a combination."

They moved into a house together and would have two kids - Matt, now 29, and Becky, 27. Bob now works as a floorman at the South Point, and Ann is a nurse for Valley View Home Health Care.

One of the Browns' favorite activities is watching NFL football together on Sundays. They are both native Las Vegans and did not have a favorite team until 2003. That year, they made their annual trip to New York City, but this time Bob suggested they see a football game. The New York Jets had a home game the week of the trip.

"And that was it," Bob said. "She was hooked on football. She went out and bought all the jerseys."

Every year since 2003 they plan their trip around the Jets' schedule.

After 37 years of marriage, they said they have only grown closer, especially since three years ago when Ann was diagnosed with uterine cancer.

In 2010, she underwent surgery to remove the cancer and had extensive radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

"He saw me through all of that," Ann said. "And if anything, that changed our marriage for the better. He was there every step of the way. It was hell, but we made it. We're closer now, because you realize you can be gone tomorrow."

At the end of her treatments, Bob took Ann to their favorite vacation spot - a bed and breakfast inn in the White Mountains near Gorham, N.H.

While she had cancer, Ann would visualize herself there.

"There's a lane that goes by the bed and breakfast in the middle of nowhere," she said. "In my mind, I would walk this lane all the time while I was in chemo or radiation treatment."

Last Christmas, Bob gave Ann a framed photograph of that lane surrounded by fall foliage. It hangs in Ann's bathroom.

COUPLE WEREN'T AWARE THEY'D ALREADY CONNECTED ONLINE

The circumstances behind how Elyse and David Zacharia of Summerlin met can only be described as beshert ---- a Hebrew word meaning bearing the fingerprints of divine intervention.

Elyse was a pharmaceutical representative in Las Vegas in 1999. She and a girlfriend found it funny that a co-worker had turned to online dating to find girls.

"He would travel all over to find dates, and we thought it was hysterical," she said.

To bait him, they put Elyse's profile on a dating site he frequented, disguising her only by using the name "Lisa." The profile did not include her picture.

The co-worker didn't bite, but another man on the site did and emailed her.

"I just ignored it," Elyse said. "I didn't even read it."

She was too busy planning a trip back to Chicago in two days. When she and her mother, Sharon Pressler, got to McCarran International Airport, Elyse said a man at the gate kept staring at her. Her mother joked that he was going to hit on Elyse. The flight was on Southwest Airlines, which allows passengers to choose their seats. Elyse and her mother settled in. The passenger in front of them was the man who'd noticed Elyse.

"I maybe glanced at her a few times, but that was about it ... I wasn't staring. I wasn't a stalker," David said. "She was petite and pretty and had a good body."

Once airborne, he started a conversation and said she looked familiar, and had she gone to the University of Kansas, his alma mater? She hadn't, but David was so charming and humorous and made a point of including her mother, Elyse couldn't help but be intrigued.

"The more I kept telling him of my life, he kept saying, 'And your name is 'Elyse?', and I kept saying, 'Yes,' " she recalled.

They talked and laughed for the entire flight. Elyse focused on how charming and what a good conversationalist he was. David admitted to focusing on other things.

"The conversation was fine, but I was more attracted to her body," he said. "Her eyes and her body and her face. No, it's body first, eyes second ... big, brown eyes, I loved them."

He invited her to a get-together at a singles' event while in Chicago, but she declined. Elyse was there to welcome her newborn niece and visit family. Still, she said she couldn't forget the engaging young man whose business card was sitting in her wallet.

She returned to Las Vegas days later and finally got around to opening the email from the guy at the dating site. As she read his profile, things started sounding familiar ---- he had gone to the University of Kansas; he worked in real estate; he was in Las Vegas for a shopping center convention; he lived in Chicago. She scrolled quickly to the bottom to see his name: David Zacharia.

Elyse whipped out the business card, ensured the names were the same and reached for her phone.

"It was 1:30 (a.m.) in Chicago, and I woke him up," she said. "I said, 'I'm the girl from the plane. You emailed me a week before I met you' ... We talked for, like, three hours that night."

They began a long-distance relationship that included frequent flier miles and daily phone calls.

Was it truly beshert? There's more.

Not long after, Elyse's company eliminated her position. The only option it could offer was a territory out of state. If she took it, she would have to move to Chicago.

She and David were married in 2000. They have two children: a son, 10, and a daughter, 8.

- Jan Hogan

Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at jmosier@viewnews.com or 702-224-5524.

 

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