Fake ring was no problem


Jennifer Dunkle And Bob Trotter

January 14, 2001|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

When Bob Trotter proposed to Jennifer Dunkle, he presented her with an oversized, gaudy ring that was obviously a phony diamond. Jennifer happily accepted it. The phony ring was actually a stand-in for the real engagement ring Bob was having made by a jeweler. When the real ring wasn't ready in time, Bob decided to rely on his -- and Jennifer's -- sense of humor, rather than change his proposal plans.

Afterward, Jennifer played along with the stunt. For a month, she proudly wore the big, silly ring. Her friends thought the whole thing was hilarious, she says. And Jennifer couldn't help but giggle at the odd looks she got from strangers.

The engagement story is typical of the couple, who say they find fun in nearly everything they do. Jennifer and Bob's yearlong courtship was filled with dinners out, trips to the beach and activities with their families. "And we both have fun families," Jennifer says.

Jennifer, 31, and Bob, 40, met when Bob's aunt decided to play matchmaker. Marilyn Coony works at Noble Steed Associates in Hunt Valley. Jennifer is a media planner / buyer at the firm. Listening to Jennifer lament about yet another bad date, Marilyn mentioned her nephew, a handsome pilot who lived near Philadelphia.

Bob was involved with someone at the time, but Marilyn said she'd love to give him Jennifer's telephone number if his situation changed.

Figuring she had nothing to lose, Jennifer agreed, though she says she didn't expect anything to come of it.

Eventually, Bob's relationship did end. But Bob, a commercial pilot for Atlas Air, a cargo carrier with a U.S. base at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City, wasn't interested in pursuing a long-distance relationship. Even if the distance was only the two hours or so between his home in Hatboro, Pa., and Baltimore. (Bob usually flies to wherever his cargo load is and then flies it on to its destination before returning home.)

But a year's worth of gentle nudging from Aunt Marilyn wore down Bob's resolve. He called Jennifer on Dec. 30, 1999. Bob came to Baltimore a few days later and took Jennifer to dinner -- and lunch before he returned home the next day.

A month later, when their busy schedules allowed another date, the couple spent the day skiing at Ski Liberty in Pennsylvania.

Soon, Bob was coming to Baltimore whenever he had a day off. By summer, he was flying the twin-engine Beechcraft airplane he owns to the Baltimore Air Park nearly every weekend. Then he'd whisk Jennifer off to the beach in Avalon, N.J., to spend time with his family and friends.

From their first date, Jennifer and Bob's romance "was very fun, very comfortable and very enjoyable," Jennifer says. "I guess because we both had been in serious relationships before, we knew what we didn't want."

Bob was impressed with Jennifer's honesty and integrity.

"She loves me for me," he says. "She's not trying to change me. And she wants to build a life. She's not expecting everything to be handed to her."

The couple began discussing marriage last summer. When Jennifer mentioned her desire for a December wedding, Bob -- without telling her or proposing first -- booked their wedding at the Cloisters for Dec. 31, 2000.

He formally proposed to Jennifer over Labor Day weekend, on the beach in Avalon, with that tacky ring.

The couple wed New Year's Eve at the Cloisters, as planned. The traditional Methodist ceremony was followed by a black-tie party.

At midnight, the newlyweds and their guests ushered in the new year with a champagne toast. The moment was made more festive by the sound of noisemakers that bore Jennifer and Bob's names -- fitting mementos of the fun occasion to celebrate a fun-loving couple.

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