A Second Chance at Love: 70-year-olds wed in BSL
By Cassandra Favre
Sep 24, 2013, 18:38
This was one of the first photographs taken of the newly married Gerri and Thomas Harper. A garden wedding was held at the Carroll House Bed and Breakfast in Bay St. Louis on Monday.
Fifty years later, a Mississippi couple re-discovered one another, along with a newfound love.
Gerri Bridges and Thomas Harper, both 70, on Monday recited their wedding vows at Bay St. Louis' Carroll House Bed and Breakfast.
“We went to school together in McAdams,” Bridges said. “We knew each other but never dated. I graduated and left the area.
“Boys didn’t date girls older than them in those days,” Harper said.
“She was a pretty girl in high school. I probably would have asked her out then if I had known she was only six weeks older than me.”
The pair went their separate ways after high school.
Gerri worked in real estate in Memphis, Tenn.
Thomas was CEO of a Jackson, Miss. hospital.
Gerri has a son and daughter from a previous marriage and Thomas has two daughters.
Combined, the two have five grandchildren.
“The children are wishing us the very best,” Bridges said. “They are tickled for us both.”
After retirement, Gerri moved back home to Kosciusko.
“I walked up on her in a service station in Kosciusko,” Harper said. “She asked about old classmates and I told her to give me her email address.
“I asked her to have lunch with me.”
Harper offered to help Gerri renovate her childhood home.
“We didn’t kill each other while renovating,” Bridges said. “We thought that was a good thing.”
About 20 months after their chance meeting, Harper was ready to propose.
“She told me it had to be a formal proposal,” Harper said. “I had just had knee replacement surgery, so I couldn’t get down on one knee.
“I took her by the hand and asked to her to marry me.”
“We both love the Gulf Coast and wanted to marry here,” Harper said. “I have a cabin on the back bay in Waveland.”
Eddie Oatis of Pass Christian served as best man.
“I’ve known Tom since 1998,” Oatis said. “We met by accident at a boatyard.
“After that, we frequently had breakfast together and told fishing lies.”
“We have a close friendship, even though we don’t see a lot of each other,” Oatis said. “We are glad to get together and our friendship is very deep.
“He is a jewel of a man, honest and doesn’t deviate. I’ve enjoyed his friendship so much.
“His new lady is equally as special."
Bridges' god-daughter Ashlee Ladner served as maid of honor.
"I wish her all the best," Ladner said. "I'm very excited for them."
The wedding was officiated by Justice Court Judge Tommy Carver.
The couple celebrated with a champagne toast and wedding cake.
“We will spend two nights at the Carroll House,” Bridges said. “We will definitely eat at Trapani’s and then travel the Coast line to Ocean Springs.”
The couple will make their home in McAdams, where a family wedding reception is planned.
“If it really feels right that that’s the person you are going to marry,” Harper said, “then jump right in with both feet.
“I’m looking forward to spending however many years we have left together.”