From office mates to soul mates Geneva Woodson and Richard Payne

Just Married

October 11, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The wedding cake sat on a full-sized birdbath, painted bright white just for the occasion. A fountain bubbled out of the birdbath. When the guests saw the cake, they all smiled - they knew what the birdbath and the fountain symbolized.

Geneva Woodson and Richard Payne met 2] years ago in a chance encounter at a hallway water fountain at the state agency where they both work.

The fountain stood at a crossroads in the office, just as Geneva and Richard appeared to be at crossroads in their lives. Geneva was a mother of two girls and a widow. She had some male friends, but had really never thought about remarriage in the 10 years since she'd lost her husband to cancer. Richard was kept busy by two daughters from a previous relationship. Never married, he dated, but couldn't seem to find his soul mate.

After a brief exchange of words at the water fountain, the two parted. But by the end of the day, Richard had finagled an introduction out of a mutual friend and he and Geneva had exchanged phone numbers.

When Richard took his time calling her, Geneva called him. (Richard says his only hesitation was that he's not big on telephone conversations.)

They spent their first date talking and listening to music in Richard's apartment. He cooked Geneva dinner. And from that day on, their lives seemed to fall into place. A house-hunting expedition six months after they began dating turned up the Baltimore row home they now share. And last October, the couple began making wedding plans.

"There was just something natural there," Richard says. "There was no trying to be somebody else. Even to this day we haven't really changed much.

"It's just that nice, even flow, that wave ... " he says, his voice trailing off as he squeezes Geneva's hand. Soft music plays in the background as the couple reminisce, sitting on their living room sofa. A pewter frame decorated with each of their initials sits nearby, waiting to be filled with their wedding portrait.

Geneva, youthful enough at 41 to be mistaken for one of her daughters, and Richard, a tall and handsome 42-year-old, are a nice-looking couple.

They are also compatible spirits, sharing a similar outlook and the same goals.

"Some people marry their opposite, but Geneva and Richard are identical," says Dawn Mazzaferra, who has worked with each of them over the past few years.

Richard "is the most kind-hearted man I have ever met," Mazzaferra says. And Geneva is "warm and loving. If you ever need a friend, you know Geneva will be there."

Family is also a priority for the couple, who excitedly plan annual Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts for Richard's girls and Geneva's two daughters and two grandchildren.

Geneva's daughters, Carletta and Jeanette, were among her attendants when she and Richard were married Sept. 26 at United Baptist Church in Baltimore. Geneva's 3-year-old grandson, Daquan, was the ring bearer. Richard's brothers, Arthur Payne and Darryl Payne, served as groomsmen. Richard's daughters, Shakira and Shareva, were among the special guests, along with his parents, Alfred and Muriel Payne of New York, and Geneva's mother, Ida Branch of Baltimore.

A dozen doves were released after the ceremony, to the delight of the bride and groom and their 150 guests.

But it was that cake on the birdbath with its very own water fountain that tugged at people's hearts as they entered the reception at the Knights of Columbus hall in Parkville.

"It was like Richard was sent to Geneva," Mazzaferra says, thinking back to the couple's fateful encounter. "They just belong together."

Pub Date: 10/11/98

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