A love lost -- and regained

JUST MARRIED

Sharon Baldwin And Dennis Kreps

June 13, 1999|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

Sharon Scerback Baldwin and Dennis Kreps met in one of the world's most romantic cities and couldn't help but fall in love.

The year was 1962. The place was Vienna, Austria. Sharon and Dennis were students at the American International School in Vienna, where his father, who was in the Air Force, and her father, who was in the Foreign Service, were stationed.

They soon were inseparable, as Dennis' old yearbook attests. "His outstanding leadership cannot be questioned," the 1962-1963 volume opines, tongue in cheek, "for he was quite capable of persuading Mr. and Mrs. Scerback that he and Sharon simply must try to solve her math problem (she had to prove that Friday plus Saturday plus Sunday night with Dennis equals only good friendship)."

In 1963, Dennis graduated and returned to the United States for college. Sharon's family also came home that year and she began high school in Bethesda. With Dennis in Colorado, the couple started a long-distance relationship. They wrote almost daily; and for their first Christmas back in the States, Dennis came to Bethesda for a visit.

But when Sharon graduated from high school, Dennis didn't attend. "I was really upset," she says.

By the fall of 1964, when Sharon began her freshman year at the University of Maryland, College Park, the couple had decided to date other people. They subsequently lost touch with one another.

Fast forward to 1991. Dennis returned to Vienna for an American International School reunion and everyone asked him about Sharon. He had nothing to tell. "I just kept saying, 'Gee, I don't know,' " he says.

Then one day in November 1992, Dennis' phone rang at work. Twenty-eight years after he had last spoken to her, Sharon was on the other end of the line.

Her 25-year marriage was ending and Sharon was at loose ends. But she didn't tell Dennis she was separated.

They talked about their memories and Dennis filled her in on the school reunion. Later the two old friends decided to meet for dinner.

At dinner, Sharon told Dennis about her impending divorce. He had his own marital woes to share. After a decade with his second wife, Dennis found his marriage was also on shaky ground.

Dennis and his wife soon separated. In January 1993, he and Sharon decided to try dating. For a year, they worked around the 80 miles between them -- she was living in Towson and he was in Centerville, Va.

In early 1994, the reunited couple bought a home together in Columbia, and last August, they moved to a larger home there. Sharon is a speech language pathologist at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and Dennis is a registered patent associate with KM Associates Inc. in Arlington, Va.

Dennis' daughter, Ami, and her daughter, Dakota, joined them in their new home. Suddenly, Sharon, who basically had sworn off marriage after her divorce, began thinking about setting a date.

"I have much more of a sense of us being a family now," she says. Dennis also has a son and Sharon has a son, a daughter and an 11-month-old grandson.

"When my grandson starts talking, I'm Grammy. I want [Dennis] to be Grandpa, not Dennis," Sharon says, her eyes suddenly filling with tears.

And so on May 16, Sharon, 52, and Dennis, 54, walked down the aisle at the Other Barn in Columbia and pledged to love one another for life.

The 75 guests included their children and grandchildren as well as Sharon's parents, Clem and Wilma Scerback, and Dennis' mother and stepfather, Hilda and Bill Heister. Remembered throughout the day was Dennis' late father, Conrad Kreps.

Sharon and Dennis have delayed their honeymoon. Their plan for a romantic getaway in the future? To tour Europe and return to Vienna, the city that brought them together 37 years ago.

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