Then and now: How'd they meet, how'd they marry?

Chris Bradley and John Penn Turner

August 16, 1997

Chris and John received publicity as one of the first same-sex couples in Charlottesville to hold a commitment ceremony.

Chris: In late fall 1995, on a whim, I placed an ad in a local weekly's personals. I periodically checked the voice mail and found some really strange characters leaving messages. When I checked it in the spring of 1996, I found that John Penn had called and left a message two or three weeks earlier. When I returned his call, he was out of town.

Three weeks later he reached me at home, but I'd just gotten back from a run and needed to take a shower. I said, "I'll have to call you back," and I did.

We met the next night at Greenberry's, spent four hours talking, and then sat on a bench until midnight.

After dating for a month or a month and a half, we got back to my place after a date and said, "We should get married." It was so clear that we'd each met our soulmate. We both just knew. When you meet that person, you really know.

We had the ceremony on the hottest day of the year, out at our former home in Nelson County. We lived on five acres backing up to the Stony Creek Natural Area, part of Wintergreen. All the guests were sitting in our backyard, we were up a little bit on a hill overlooking a ravine. We were on Wintergreen property– it was the most radical thing that ever happened at Wintergreen.

It was a first marriage for me, but John Penn had been married to a woman and was a widower. After his wife died, he felt it was time for him to be who he was; to live as an openly gay man.

A longtime friend of John's, Ruth Glass, headmaster of private school in D.C., performed the ceremony. We obviously knew we couldn't legally be married, but she has such an amazing presence and can handle a crowd– she's so articulate and well spoken; she really put some folks at ease who were sort of nervous. She was absolutely amazing.


Meredith and Larry Richards

August 26, 1967

Meredith is a former city councilor and vice-mayor

Meredith: Larry and I met and married during the free-swinging '60s, when most of our friends were opting for less "formal" arrangements. If people married at all, it was barefoot in the park with laurel crowns and tambourines.

We met on my first day of graduate school in Psychology at the University of Illinois. Larry was already the star of his class, so I was flattered by his attention but not looking for a new relationship.

Larry: Meredith wasn't at all interested in me until I started tutoring her in statistics (she struggled but finally mastered it) and her two cats accepted me (and vice versa). It took her a while to see my inner beauty!

Two years later, we boarded a bus to Houston for the long ride to get married in her family's small church. I borrowed $200 to buy Meredith's wedding ring and a new suit. Two of my brothers went AWOL from the Army to be there; later, one shipped out for Vietnam, the other for Korea.

Meredith: We moved from Illinois to Charlottesville to teach at UVA. And the first course I taught was statistics!


Jean Hiatt and David Brown

November 24, 1979

David is Charlottesville's current mayor

David: We met in January 1978. At the time, I had come back to UVA to take science requirements for chiropractic school, and Jean was teaching at Jack Jouett [Middle School]. We were strangers shopping for a coat at the old Blue Ridge Mountain Sports, off Emmet Street. We left the store having bought identical Sierra Designs down parkas­ Jean persuaded me that I should buy blue instead of maroon.

I was riding my bicycle­ my 1969 VW bus was broken down­ and when we left I pulled up next to Jean at the light. She rolled down her window, and we chatted until the light turned green. I decided that if I could catch her at the next light, I would see if she wanted to have dinner. I pedaled furiously but got to the next light just as it turned green. I watched her blue Datsun drive off.

But Charlottesville was, and still is, a small place. Ten days later I was in line at Littlejohn's when Jean came in with some friends. She joined me and agreed to have dinner-­ we went to Christian's Restaurant, where Saigon Café is now. She drove.

I moved to Portland, Oregon, in June of 1978, and after a hectic year of long-distance romance, Jean joined me there in 1979. We returned to Charlottesville in 1982 and celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in 2004.


Ludwig Kuttner and Beatrix Ost

July 29, 1979

Ludwig, a businessman, and Beatrix, an artist, are known for some significant downtown developments, including the Terraces on the Downtown Mall.

Beatrix: We met through a friend at the Oktoberfest in Munich in 1968. We just looked at each other– he looked at me very much; then we started dating for three years, and then we lived together in Munich. But we forgot to get married.

I already had two boys (Oliver and Daniel) when I met Ludwig. In 1974 I gave birth to our son Fabian, and in 1975 we moved to New York.

In 1979 we got married in New York– it was a mutual decision with the U.S. Government. We needed one name to have a green card and needed to organize our immigration status. Ludwig needed to adopt the other children. It reminded us that a marriage would be nice, too. We were as excited as when we first met.

Our youngest son hopped along Fifth Avenue and told everyone, "My parents are getting married!" In 1981 we bought a farm, Estouteville, in Charlottesville.


Hovey and Patricia Dabney

February 14, 1948

Hovey is a decorated WWII veteran and former rector of UVA

Hovey: I met Patricia in 1947 on a blind date set up by a mutual friend. I was going to UVA and had just gotten back from the Second World War. I was in the Air Force, and had been shot down on my first mission– over Budapest. Patricia was a secretary for Harmon Paxon, a lawyer here in town.

I think our first date was probably to the movies, and from there it developed slowly.

In December 1947, I talked to her mother and then bought a diamond ring.

We married in UVA Chapel on Valentine's day 1948, and Patricia's dress was particularly unusual: It was made from the parachute that saved my life.