A tie from past, a future together


Thelma Bowers And Ray Gundersdorff

May 16, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

When Ray Gundersdorff met Thelma Bowers, she was still Thelma Southcomb, a pretty senior at Catonsville High School. Ray was a junior.

Besides passing in school hallways, Thelma and Ray belonged to the same church youth group. When a small faction of the group would sneak off to go bowling instead of attending the weekly meeting, Thelma and Ray were always in the thick of the high jinks.

Not together, mind you. In the early 1950s, they both adamantly say, senior girls did not go out with junior-class men. So Thelma and Ray never even considered dating.

Thelma graduated in 1954 and went on to what is now Towson University. She married Ronnie Bowers and worked as an elementary-school teacher before putting her career on hold to raise the couple's two children at home in Lutherville. In August 1993, after 32 years of marriage, Ronnie Bowers died of cancer.

Ray Gundersdorff graduated from Catonsville in 1955 and immediately joined the Navy. After the service, he went to the University of Maryland, College Park, where he met Julie Marsh. They married and settled in Catonsville. Ray pursued a career in sales, and he and Julie were blessed with three daughters. In July 1995, after 33 years of marriage, Julie succumbed to Lou Gehrig's disease.

Thelma, who hadn't seen or talked to Ray in 41 years, sent a note of condolence after seeing Julie's obituary in the newspaper.

Ray called Thelma to thank her and the old friends became reacquainted. Sometimes they'd go out to dinner. Other times, they just chatted, glad to have someone to talk to about older -- and happier -- times.

Their memories of growing up in Catonsville "way back when" were a strong bond. Coincidentally, they realized they had probably been passing one another in area restaurants and other Baltimore County points for years. "We know all the same places and we know all the same waiters," Ray says with a chuckle.

In June 1998, Thelma and Ray got engaged. They planned their wedding amid their busy work schedules. Thelma is a fiscal accountant for the Baltimore County public school system and Ray is the mid-Atlantic region salesman of electron microscopes for JEOL USA Inc.

On May 1, Thelma, 62, and Ray, 61, were married at St. Paul's Anglican Church in Bermuda. Thelma's son Randy gave the bride away. Her daughter Terri Smith was matron of honor, and Ray's son-in-law George Castaneda was best man.

The sun set behind the chapel as the couple said their vows surrounded by many family members and some longtime friends. They signed St. Paul's historic marriage register and then set out in a horse-drawn carriage for their reception. The 40 guests -- including Thelma's 89-year-old mother, Thelma Southcomb -- joined the newlyweds for a nuptial dinner at the Fourways Inn.

The wedding music, which included the Walt Disney songs "When You Wish Upon a Star" and "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes," set the mood for the day.

Thelma says the songs were a perfect fit. "When you're alone and you don't have anybody, you just kind of wish someone else would come along," she explains. "Our relationship shows that when you wish upon a star, dreams do come true."

Pub Date: 05/16/99

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