WEDDING-Then and Now: How'd they meet, how'd they marry?

Online dating may be all the rage these days, and good old blind dates never go out of style. But as the following stories prove, sometimes love is hiding in an unexpected place. In fact, you just never know when you'll stumble upon your future better half. 

Coy Barefoot and Allison Bell

October 16, 1999

When writer and radio host Coy Barefoot began researching local archaeology projects for an article in C-ville Weekly in 1996, the last thing he expected to dig up was a bride.

"Somebody gave me the name of a grad student at UVA who was doing some work in Louisa County on 17th and 18th century settlement sites," recalls Barefoot. Though Barefoot says he usually conducted interviews in public places, he wanted to tape record his interview with Bell and thought her home might be quieter.

"I sort of invited myself over for the interview," he says. Boy, was he glad he did.

"Obviously she was very intelligent, getting a Ph. D. in anthropology and archaology, but I didn't expect her to be gorgeous, too!" he says.

While Barefoot's heart was a pounding, he still had an article to write and didn't want to be unprofessional.

"I wrote the story and then had to go get a photo of her," he says. "I totally had a crush on her– it was like being back in grade school."

There was one other little catch: she had a boyfriend of eight years, who was living in Georgia. When he asked Bell out, she said, "'I told you I have a boyfriend.' I said, 'We don't have to fall in love and get married or anything; we could just go as friends.' But we fell in love and got married."



Rey and Gimmer Barry

February 14, 1970

The Vietnam War was raging and Rey Barry was a busy young reporter for the Daily Progress when his wife Gimmer (pronounced like Jim) first caught his eye.

"We met at a political party, a fundraiser for Gene McCarthy in 1968 at Jim Murray's House [Panorama Farm]," says Barry. In Murray's yard, there was a children's zip line– a steel cable stretched between two trees with a little trolley to hold onto. When Barry stepped outside, he saw a sight that concerned him.

"I turned around and saw a young woman coming down the cable who I thought was going to smash into the tree," he recalls. "I caught her."

Barry might have fancied himself a hero, but Gimmer says she was actually in no danger.

"I was waiting for people to go in so I could go on the children's toys," she laughs. "I just was shy and didn't want the other adults to see me."

It wasn't long before the couple knew they were in love, but planning a wedding was bit complicated.

"During the Vietnam War era, there was no religion I'd want any part of particularly," says Barry. "The civil authority of the United States was unspeakable. That made it difficult to get married."

But the pair found a way to make it happen. 

"We went to the one respectable religion there was during Vietnam, which was the  Quakers," says Barry. "They were the only ones acting in a moral way."

Picking a location was another issue.

"We had great respect for Thomas Jefferson, so we asked if we could get married at Monticello," says Barry. But one of the Quaker elders suggested that Monticello was more of a "plasticized memorial to Jefferson" and that the Rotunda was actually more in keeping with Jefferson's legacy.

As a reporter, Barry soon ran into then-UVA president Edgar Shannon, and as the two walked down the Lawn, Barry asked Shannon's permission to marry at the Rotunda. After Barry told Shannon the date, Shannon said, "I'll take care of it," says Barry. "And he did."

Barry says his Quaker ceremony was the only wedding ever held at the Rotunda, which was declared a historic monument a few years later, making future weddings there impossible.



Blake and Lisa DeMaso

November 7, 1998

As his senior year at High Point University in North Carolina came to a close in 1994, Blake DeMaso, now editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, broke up with his girlfriend. With a sorority dance coming up, his prospects for a date at the tiny school weren't looking good. 

"All these girls were friends, so no one asked me to the dance because they didn't want to make my ex-girlfriend upset," DeMaso recalls. Fortunately for him, one girl was willing to take the risk.

"My wife said, 'I'm going to ask him anyway,'" he says.

It was a match, but DeMaso thought the timing wasn't good as they were both graduating in three months and he was heading off to Europe for the summer and possibly longer.

They continued seeing each other that spring, however, and DeMaso says he soon changed his mind. 

"I thought, 'This girl is so cool, and our personalities were perfect– we had so many common interests. I hadn't really met someone like that before."

Though DeMaso went ahead with his trip after graduation, he ended up cutting it short.

"The whole time I was there, I wished she was there with me," he says.

He returned home, the two got engaged and are currently in the early stages of living happily ever after. And as for that trip cut short?

"This year I'm giving her a trip to Europe with me," he says.

Blake and Lisa DeMaso


Scott and Thea Nicole Trice

July 24, 1998

"It was love at first sight," says Scott Trice, who first met wife-to-be, Thea Nicole, while working for 360 Communications (now Alltel). "She came down from Chicago to do training on our new computer system," says Trice, who at the time was a supervisor. The two went out for dinner during her one-week stay, and Trice couldn't contain himself.

"I told her I love her," he says. "She looked at me like I was crazy."

No matter her reaction, Trice didn't question she was the one.

"It was a warm feeling over me," he says. "We just clicked. I knew after prior relationships that this was what I was looking for."

Thea had to return to Chicago, but Trice wasn't about to let her get away. "I started going back and forth to visit her," he says. When they were apart, "We'd talk on cell phones four and five hours. It was just great communication."

When an opportunity for a job opened up in Charlottesville, Thea relocated. After that, says Trice, "It was a whirlwind."

Married now nearly nine years, Trice says his intuition was right from the start.

"To this day I carry a flame for her," he says. "It hasn't even dwindled."

The pair left Alltel and together launched 815 Inc., a cleaning service and medical supply business. But the secret to their relationship success actually lies in the ways they stay apart.

"Separate bathrooms and separate checking accounts," laughs Trice. "That's the key to our success."



Bob Gibson and Sarah McConnell

May 1, 1982

The courtship between longtime newshounds Sarah McConnell and Bob Gibson was appropriate given their occupations: it started with a murder trial and ended with a frontal lobotomy. 

In 1980, McConnell was just starting her journalism career as news director for WINA, while Gibson already had several years reporting for the Daily Progress under his belt. Both were covering a murder trial, and Gibson offered to share his notes with the new cub reporter.

 "I thought, 'What a wonderful guy," says McConnell, now host of public radio's "With Good Reason." 

"I didn't need his notes," she says, "but I was charmed by his graciousness."

Gibson says the two began meeting for lunch around downtown and the relationship built on the pair's shared interest in news.

Then came the fateful night downstairs at the C&O restaurant. Gibson was planning to propose to McConnell, but the two were unexpectedly joined by the author of a book on frontal lobotomies. When the interloper got up to use the bathroom, Gibson took the opportunity.

"He said, 'I've been meaning to ask you– would you marry me?" says McConnell, who reports it wasn't a hard question to answer. 

"I was crazy about him from the beginning," she says.

The two, parents to three daughters– 23, 20 and 14– will celebrate their 25th anniversary in May, and Gibson says he's looking foward to 25 more.

"We're happy to still be in Charlottesville together," he says.