Communication is the key to the puzzle

Larry and Linda George of Shenandoah were chosen as The Valley News 2020 Valentine’s Day sweethearts.

Photo provided

From dancing to riding their motorcycle all over the United States, Linda and Larry George have spent the past 23 years enjoying life together. 

Both widowed after spouses from their first marriage passed away, Larry and Linda found happiness again.

In the early 1990s Jim and Nancy Whitehill held country dance lessons at the Elks Club in Shenandoah, where Larry and Linda first met. After Linda’s first husband passed away, a close friend urged her to come to country dance lessons one evening.

“I said, ‘oh honey, I don’t think so,’” said Linda. “She went into my bedroom she pulled out an outfit and said put this on you’re going with me.”

Larry was in the same situation. Having lost his wife several years prior, he decided to start going to country dance lessons with his daughter Erin.

“You could always find ladies to dance with and dance all night,” said Larry.

Well, Larry found his special lady and it was Linda.

Larry and Linda were invited to join a dance group called Boot Scooters and traveled to care centers across Iowa, entertaining the residents. The group was also known for dancing on a flatbed trailer during local parades. Although the couple no longer dances with the group, they still enjoy an occasional evening of dancing.

The two were married on a lookout point in Waubonsie State Park Sept. 20, 1996.

Before meeting Larry, Linda attended the Methodist Church in Riverton. Larry was Catholic and to make things easier for their families, Linda decided to join the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shenandoah. She had always told her children it didn’t matter what church they belonged to as long as they had a faith.

As members of the Catholic church, it was required the couple complete classes and testing before being married.

Linda said Father Mike Laughlin was the priest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shenandoah at the time, and he gave Larry and Linda the grace to be married telling them their answers on the test were almost identical.

“We told him where we were going to get married, and he just smiled and said I think you two will enjoy that,” said Linda.

Larry and Linda are active members of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Shenandoah.

“We go to 6:30 a.m. mass every Sunday morning unless we’re on vacation,” said Linda. “Then, we’re in some Catholic church somewhere in the United States.”

Between the two, they have four children Tammy, Chrissy, Erin and Evan and five grandchildren.

Larry and Linda are very proud of their four children and tried hard to teach them to stand on their own feet.

“I told them you come home whenever you want, but you got to go see what’s out there,” said Larry. “There’s so much to see and you can’t do it here in town.”

When Larry and Linda married, her children were adults and had already moved out on their own. Larry’s two children were younger and still lived at home. Larry said joining the two families had some challenges that they overcame together.

Larry is originally from northwest Iowa and joined the Air Force after high school. He then attended and graduated from Iowa State. He spent most of his career as a salesman for Keebler Crackers retiring from there after 35 years. When he first moved to Shenandoah he worked at what was then called Vetamix and now keeps busy doing part-time work for Lloyds and Nishna Valley Funeral Home.

Linda grew up on a farm five miles south of Farragut.

“I haven’t traveled very far,” said Linda. “From our driveway is 21 miles to my driveway where I grew up. I left home at 18, got to be with my first husband a little bit before he went to Vietnam. Then I made a home in Farragut.”

Linda with her outgoing personality held several jobs over the years working with the public and was activities director for a time at Elm Heights/Parkcrest Care Center. She graduated from Southwest Iowa Cosmetology College that was located on W. Lowell Ave. in Shenandoah and later became an instructor at the college. She currently works part-time for Pat Leece at Nishna Valley Funeral Home helping in the office and with visitations and funerals.

“Here I am at 71 still working,” said Linda.” But that’s ok. I’m a people person.”

Over the years, Larry and Linda have spent a lot of their time together taking long trips on their Goldwing. Larry said they had seen both oceans, the Erie Canal, The Great Lakes and Canada to name a few while traveling with a group on motorcycles.

“I’ve been all over the United States with him on a bike,” said Linda. “Now I’m in a sidecar. I tell everybody he’s Driving Miss Daisy.”

Linda said their children check up on them a lot when they are traveling on the motorcycle to make sure they are ok and staying hydrated. Their son Evan joined them on one trip to Knoxville, Tennessee, to the Honda Hoot which is a Goldwing rally.

While traveling, the two can use the intercoms inside their helmets to communicate with each and CBs to communicate with the other riders in the group.

Just like communicating is important when traveling, Linda said communication is important in a relationship.

“I’m a talker, and I believe in getting something straight before it gets into a massive ordeal,” said Linda. “Another thing is when you marry like Larry and I married we have two families and the main thing is everybody gets along. It’s a work in progress all the time.”

Linda said their situation was a little different as they had both lost their first loves to death, and their children had suffered the loss too.

“I think we were a little bit more compassionate because we’ve been down the road clear down to where we had to bury a loved one,” said Linda. “You have to learn to forgive and make sure everything keeps running smoothly if you can.”

Linda said there are always going to be disagreements in a marriage but you shouldn’t let it get to the point where you go months without speaking to each other.

“I couldn’t be any happier to finish out my life with this man,” said Linda. “I think there’s always going to be days that you’re not going to agree with each other. That, to me, is common. By evening you need to be able to have things smoothed out so you both go to bed and get a good night’s sleep.”

Larry and Linda recently added the newest member to their family; a golden doodle puppy named Taylor Kay George.

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