Gene was living in Pittsburg when his next-door neighbor’s sister, Marion, came to visit from New York City. He knew almost immediately he wanted to marry her. After three months of a long-distance relationship and many letters, they married July 5, 1958, in Long Island. Marion and Gene now live in Charlotte and they both tell their story.
At first sight: Gene’s work with the CIA had taken him around the world when he met Marion, who was a model and hair stylist on Fifth Avenue. Her friendly demeanor was part of what made her the most attractive and fascinating woman he’d ever met. They went on their first date the day after they met, and – thanks to Gene’s training to evaluate people and make quick decisions – he proposed. Marion didn’t agree till Gene met her parents and asked for her hand. They didn’t marry till the CIA did a background check of Marion.
Adventures abroad: Marion then found a job in Pittsburg as a modeling instructor. We relocated to Washington, D.C., adopted a girl and had a son of our own. We then spent two years in Bangkok, where we lived across from a swamp. But we made lifelong friends we’re still in contact with.
Trade-in: Once we returned to the U.S. we were blessed with another daughter. Gene had gone to college at Belmont Abbey and we decided to make Charlotte our home in 1984. We traded the swamp snakes of Thailand for the fish and turtles we feed on the small lake where we live. Gene does volunteer mediation work and Marion volunteers with United Methodist Church in Matthews.
55 years later: Three children and five grandchildren later, we found that a strong love and quick decisions do work out. The secret is give-and-take, respect and a sense of humor. Hilary Trenda
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