After 48 years, the wedding bells finally will ring Dundalk veteran, wartime sweetheart vow to take their vow

July 10, 1992|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,Staff Writer

Ray Vasby and Patsy Holmes, whose wedding plans 48 years TC ago were thwarted by the course of World War II, will be married Saturday in Columbia, S.C.

Mr. Vasby is the 68-year-old Dundalk veteran who's been floating on air since his long-lost sweetheart telephoned him out of the blue Easter Sunday. Ms. Holmes, 65, just wanted to see how he was doing.

He wasn't doing well. He was ill. He was a widower. He thought his life was about over.

But that phone call rekindled a lost love affair as well as the old soldier's spirit. It enabled Ms. Holmes to atone for what she calls the biggest mistake of her life.

Their story goes back to 1943. Mr. Vasby was a 21-year-old soldier stationed in England, and Ms. Holmes was a red-haired British schoolgirl.

They met, fell in love and planned to get married. But then, in 1944, Mr. Vasby was sent into France to lay telephone cable for the Allied invasion. He was unable to write. Ms. Holmes grew impatient. She married another American soldier. That was her big mistake, she says.

That marriage ended in divorce. She remarried, but her second husband died.

On Easter Sunday, she called Ray Vasby.

The rest is history -- as chronicled by The Sun's Rafael Alvarez in two articles in May. Now it's time to bring this fairy tale to a close.

Mr. Vasby sold his Dundalk home a week and a half ago. He drove a rented van to South Carolina -- a van he had loaded himself.

Before Ms. Holmes called in May, he could hardly walk.

A miracle?

"Sure is," he said by telephone from South Carolina. "It's more than that."

They've set the wedding for 7 p.m. Saturday "in a beautiful little Pentecostal church here in West Columbia," Mr. Vasby says.

Then they'll drive to Iowa, where he grew up on a farm, for a leisurely honeymoon.

"It still doesn't seem like it's happening," Mr. Vasby said. "I feel like I've finally reached the end of a long journey. It's crazy, you know."

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