Bingo! A proposal MICHAELLE CRUMBACKER AND TOM LEONE

Just Married

November 08, 1998|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Michaelle Crumbacker decided to propose to Tom Leone, it took her a few months to get up the nerve.

Michaelle and Tom had been dating for nearly three years by then. (They met in the spring of 1995 at a conference held at an Inner Harbor hotel.)

In October 1997, Michaelle and Tom began discussing marriage. But Michaelle knew that Tom would be reluctant to make the first move, that it would be up to her.

Shortly after she and Tom began dating, Michaelle had confided in him about a previous relationship that had "gone very sour." Tom recalls that he was afraid he might set a pace for their relationship that Michaelle wasn't comfortable with. "I told her, 'You're going to have to let me know if, and when, you want to get married.'"

Deciding she was ready to spend the rest of her life with Tom was easy, Michaelle says. And she found a lot of support among family and friends for her proposal idea. A meter monitor for the Westminster City Police Department in Carroll County, Michaelle ran the idea past her friends at work. They all offered the same advice: "We told her to go for it," says co-worker Brenda Johnson.

But Michaelle agonized for weeks over the details. She bought Tom a ring to signify their engagement - "a nice, manly one," she jokes. But she couldn't get up the nerve to pop the question. Halloween came and went. Then Thanksgiving. Then Christmas.

Finally, on Dec. 26, 1997, Michaelle sent Tom a page on his alphanumeric pager while they both were helping with bingo night at the Riviera Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Anne Arundel County. (Tom, who works as a small-engine mechanic, is also an active member of the Sykesville Volunteer Fire Department in Carroll County.)

Using the nickname her brothers bestowed on Tom and the rest of her family took to heart, Michaelle typed: "Henry, I love you. Will you marry me? Mich."

Unfortunately, Tom was out of the building getting change when the page went through. When he came back, he thought the words were a silly joke being played by his fellow firefighters.

Nervous when he didn't respond to the question, Michaelle asked Tom about the page. Surprised that Michaelle was serious, Tom was speechless - something that practically never happens, his friends and family say.

Thinking Tom was playing hard to get, Michaelle got down on one knee - in front of the entire bingo hall - and asked the question again. His answer: yes, with a big grin.

Refusing to be outdone, Tom staged his own proposal a few weeks later. Since he and Michaelle are both avid outdoors people, Tom took her to a scenic spot near the Liberty Dam, put her up on a pedestal (really an extremely tall boulder) and presented her with his late mother's engagement ring. It was a perfect fit.

On Oct. 30, Michaelle, 28, and Tom, 31, were married in a Roman Catholic Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Catonsville. The wedding party included Michaelle's brothers, Bernie and Phil, and her sister-in-law, Amy, as well as Tom's niece, Erin Kellman, and his brother-in-law, Aaron Kellman.

Michaelle's parents, Dorothy and Bernard Crumbacker Sr. of Sykesville, smiled as they watched their only daughter marry. Tom's sister, Ginny Kellman, who raised him, and a family friend, Helen Schell, who long ago "adopted" Tom when he began palling around with her three sons, offered love and blessings of their own and on behalf of Tom's parents, the late Louis C. Leone and the late Mary Agnes Leone.

Halfway through the ceremony, Michaelle, standing before Tom and their 115 guests in all of her bridal finery, read a poem she wrote to Tom during their courtship.

"You have called up feelings in me that I thought were only illusions. Now I know that magic can be real," Michaelle said, dissolving into tears of joy.

A few minutes later, Father Joseph Muth pronounced the couple husband and wife, and Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Leone left the church to resounding cheers and applause.

Pub Date: 11/08/98

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