Bad wind of Hurricane Andrew delivers angel of her dreams

May 19, 1993|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

MIAMI -- Finding a good insurance adjuster after a hurricane i no easy trick. But Wilda Russell found a perfect technique, one effective in times richer or poorer, in sickness and health.

She married one.

"He's like the angel that came out of this horrible mess, my angel from Andrew," says Ms. Russell.

Wilda Russell married George Keys on Saturday at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church. "She'll do anything to get her check," Mr. Keys joked.

The couple met early in September, in the first weeks after Hurricane Andrew. The adjuster-groom came down from Jackson, Miss.

"I was his smallest claim and furthest north. He wasn't even going to come here," said the insured bride. "We just think it is fate."

Her three-bedroom condominium suffered $45,000 in wind and water damage. But Mr. Keys didn't handle her claim. He passed it to another adjuster as soon as she asked him out.

"I've never dated an insured before," he said.

While surveying her damaged property, the two found they shared an avid interest in diving, trap shooting, camping, hiking, fishing and the outdoors. Later, with prodding from her mother, she invited him to join her diving.

"I didn't have a diving buddy," she said.

Like many adjusters, this one was slow to close the deal.

"We didn't kiss for three months," noted Ms. Russell, a fashion model who, at 32, said she assumed she would never marry. Mr. Keys is 34 and has a family, Jared, 10, and Nicole, 13. Finally, on March 19, he proposed.

They have bought a house in suburban Kendall. Mr. Keys is taking his first time away from hurricane damage while the newlyweds honeymoon, diving in Bonaire, off the Venezuelan coast.

"I just want everybody to know, there are honest insurance adjusters," said the blissful bride.

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