Big sister's a matchmaker

JUST MARRIED

Linda Haley And Warren Estey

March 11, 2001|By Joanne E. Morvay | By Joanne E. Morvay,Special to the Sun

When Barbara Haley Wixom met the man she thought would be perfect for her little sister, she didn't hesitate to play matchmaker. Warren Estey was earning his master's degree in business administration at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Barbara is an instructor in UVA's Darden School of Business Administration. She met Warren through her boyfriend (and now husband), Chris Wixom, who was also enrolled in the master's program.

It was late spring 1998 and Warren and Chris' graduation was just around the corner. After a summer vacation, Warren was headed to Baltimore and a new job with what is now Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown. (Warren, 33, is an investment banker for the firm.)

Barbara, 31, knowing Warren didn't have any acquaintances in Baltimore, urged him to meet her sister, Linda Haley.

Warren was not enthusiastic about the idea.

"I was like, 'Oh, OK. I bet she's got a great personality,' " he says.

Warren spent the summer touring Africa and Europe with friends. He arrived in Baltimore that September and threw himself into his new job.

At Barbara's urging, Chris Wixom got in touch with Warren a number of times to remind him about Barbara's sister. Finally, Warren called Linda, and the two met in mid-October. But nobody told Warren that Linda had been warned about him.

After Barbara met Warren, she told her sister about this guy who had the "tall, dark and handsome" good looks Linda was usually drawn to. Protective older sister that she is, Barbara added, "He's also kind of cocky. And he's a total ladies' man. But I think you can handle him."

A first-grade teacher in the Howard County public school system, Linda, 27, was too busy with the end of the school year to worry about some guy her sister had said "might" call.

Coincidentally, Linda also spent that summer on a trip through Africa and Europe. When she returned to Baltimore, her sister again mentioned this Warren "who I kept hearing was going to call," Linda says.

By the time Warren did call, Linda was determined not to be impressed. On their first date, they were sipping martinis at a downtown Baltimore lounge when Linda looked at him and asked, "My sister says you're kind of cocky and a ladies' man. Is that true?"

Surprised by her directness, Warren didn't have a ready answer. He was thinking of Chris Wixom when he joked, "My buddy really set me up."

Linda and Warren began to date, indulging in their shared love of the arts as well as outdoor activities like hiking. But after about a month, Linda began doubting their budding relationship. She was still wary because of Barbara's initial impression, she says.

To be sure of his affections, Linda decided (to herself) that Warren would have to set the tone for their relationship. He would have to be the one who called and the one who asked to get together.

Soon, Warren began to worry that he liked Linda more than she liked him. But finally, Linda realized that if she wanted the relationship to work, she was going to have to throw caution to the wind and put her whole heart into the romance.

By January 1999, she and Warren were talking about marriage. That May, they moved in together in Canton. And by the end of the year, Warren proposed over a private lunch he had arranged at the Brewer's Art restaurant, one of the couple's favorite Baltimore haunts.

Linda and Warren married Feb. 24 at the Grand Lodge at Bonnie Blink in Hunt Valley. Linda's sister Barbara was matron of honor.

Chris Wixom claims some credit for Linda and Warren's romance because he was the one who kept nudging Warren to call. But Linda says she knows where the real credit lies.

"My sister knows me so well. She could see something in Warren and she was right."

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