His mother, the matchmaker

Just Married

August 09, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Thomas "T. J." Hundley long ago stopped listening to his mother's advice - or "nagging" as he good-naturedly calls it. So when Rita Hundley said she'd found the perfect mate for her only unmarried child, T. J. easily ignored her pleas that he at least take the woman on a date.

Peggy Radasky was a widow whose daughter, Britt, was enrolled in Rita Hundley's first-grade class in the fall of 1996. Radasky, with Britt and younger daughter, Bo, had moved back to this area from Colorado, after her husband was killed in a car accident in the spring of 1996. Peggy and the girls were living with her parents, John and Mary Plunkett, in Lutherville.

"The minute I met Peggy I thought, 'Oh, she is delightful,' " Rita recalls. The two women became friends and as the school year continued, Rita gently probed Peggy about whether she was dating, mentioning her "tall, good-looking son," who was about Peggy's age.

As the school year ended, Peggy considered the possibility of dating the man she had seen in photos in Rita's wallet. But Rita - who wasn't having much influence on T. J. - hadn't mentioned anything on the subject in a while.

One afternoon, shortly after the 1996-1997 school year ended, Peggy returned home to learn that her mother had had a long telephone conversation with Rita's son. But Peggy was a little nonplused by T. J.'s lackluster invitation when she returned the call. "He said something like, 'My mom says we might get along and we both have to eat so we might as well go out to eat together,' " Peggy remembers, laughing.

They went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and over tea and fortune cookies, T. J. realized his life had changed forever. "I thought to myself, 'Hundley, you idiot!' " he says, thinking back to the many months he had ignored his mother's advice. "I looked at Peggy and said, 'This is the girl.' I knew right then."

Peggy, too, was smitten - by T. J.'s caring ways, like calling the day after their first date to say how much he had enjoyed himself. "I just thought that was the nicest thing," Peggy says. And she was touched by his interest in and patience with Britt and Bo.

"We never expected Peggy to find someone who was so perfect for her and her children," says Betsy Higham, her sister. The two sisters and their four other siblings live just a short distance from each other in Baltimore County.

"We all knew that this was going to be serious from the beginning," Betsy adds. "Peggy and T. J. acted like they had known each other for a long time. They were comfortable with each other immediately."

Six months after Peggy and T. J. began dating, T. J. proposed. Peggy was so overwhelmed, she made him repeat the request three times. Britt, who was playing with Barbie dolls nearby, had a better grasp of the situation. She walked over and gave T. J. a big hug and then told Bo, "Mommy and T. J. are getting married."

On July 25, surrounded by family members (T. J. has four siblings) and friends, Peggy and T. J. were married at the Carmelite Monastery in Lutherville. Britt, 8, was a junior bridesmaid, and Bo, 3, served as flower girl. The reception for 120 adult guests and nearly two dozen children took place at the Ruxton home of Betsy and her husband, Dan.

The sounds of the steel band wafted on the breeze as Peggy and T. J. - and their daughters - spent a perfect summer evening celebrating the new beginning in all their lives.

After a honeymoon trip to Maine, Peggy and T. J. will reside in Timonium with the girls. T. J., 39, is a special-education teacher at Dundalk High School. Peggy, 38, is an administrative assistant for a financial planner in Towson.

The couple remain a little surprised by their whirlwind romance. But they should have taken the hint that came at the end of the meal on their first date.

T. J. still has their fortunes from that evening, tiny scraps of paper that seem to foretell what was to come. One fortune reads, "There will be someone sharing your warmth." The other, "This is a night for love and affection."

Pub Date: 8/09/98

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