Traverse City Record-Eagle

Community News Network

September 3, 2013

Nearly 80 years after sharing first kiss, couple marries

ALEDO, Texas — It started with a kiss, a long time ago.

Billie Joyce Williams Shaw-Bell and her neighbor friend, Delbert Garner, were both 6 years old when he kissed her on her cheek.

"I didn't even know what a kiss was then, but I knew that I liked it," Shaw-Bell said.

The pair seemed inseparable until four years later, when Garner and his family moved to California.

"I cried a lot when they took him away," Shaw-Bell said. "And then he never wrote me. I'm still mad about that."

"I never thought to get her address," Garner said.

Fast forward more than 70 years, and the childhood sweethearts who were separated at a young age finally got together, marrying in a ceremony this past Saturday afternoon.

"We were so glad to get back together," Shaw-Bell said.

After Garner's family moved, Delbert would occasionally come back to Texas to visit family and check in on Shaw-Bell.

"We'd visit, but every time he'd come down, I'd have a boyfriend," she said.

Garner would enlist in the service, serving in World War II before getting discharged in 1945.

"He'd come visit, and he was just so beautiful in his uniform," Shaw-Bell said. "I met a lot of soldiers when I was working, but none were like him."

Garner's first stop out of the service was to Texas to visit Shaw-Bell, with the intention of making their relationship official.

"I found out from my family that she had married two months before that," he said. "I was a little devastated."

Shaw-Bell was married to her first husband for 45 years until his passing. Eight years later, she married Junior Bell, a friend of her late husband's. That marriage lasted 10 years until his death.

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