To make up for that recent blog post about a romp of a divorce party (click here), I will now pass on a story about love.
Shaun Fulco was 15 years old in 1982, working nights and weekends at the bowling alley her father managed in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette. She noticed an attractive and talented bowler named Roger Hyver, who also lived in her town. He was there all the time practicing. Shaun says he was good enough to have been a professional bowler, had he had the financial backing. He was 19. To say Shaun was smitten would be an understatement.
“I made a friend of mine come day after day to the bowling alley to sit with me and watch him bowl,” she recalls. “We would watch him for hours. My friend would beg me to leave.”
Roger was unaware of the teen’s affection and attention. But Shaun’s father was not unaware of it. And he was not amused. “My dad said, ‘No way!’ because of the age difference,” Shaun says. “He was not going to let his 15-year-old daughter get involved with a 19-year-old guy.” Her father kept an eye on the situation. If he noticed Shaun paying too much attention to Roger, he’d change her assignment and make her go work in the bowling alley’s day care center, out of sight of the bowling lanes.
His plan worked. Although it was a small town and everyone knew the families of one another, Roger was only vaguely aware of her existence as he spent time with his older friends. Eventually, he married someone else and, years later, so did Shaun. They both had children and went about their lives. From time to time, they would see one another at a gathering of mutual friends, but those times were infrequent and uneventful. Still, even as they pursued their careers, Shaun would kind of keep an ear out and, every now and then, make note of where Roger moved after he left town. After more than 20 years, though, she had lost track of where he was.
Then, in 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, killing almost 2,000 people and doing $81 billion in property damage. Like many others, Shaun, her then-husband and her son, Jacob, lost their home and most of their belongings. When they returned to their house many weeks later, they found it deep in mud and infested by snakes. Her Lexus was in the swimming pool where, again, snakes were slithering in and out of it. The house was declared a total loss. Her excellent job as CFO of a multimillion dollar business was wiped out as the company also was devastated by the historic storm.
She and her family went to Orlando where she had friends and then moved to East Tennessee where her sister, Kathryn Lovell, lived with her husband, George, in Sevier County. Shaun and Jacob decided to stay here. “I just couldn’t go back,” she says. “That place was not my home anymore.” Her husband, though, did want to go back. They divorced. Shaun got a job at Sevier County Bank.
It was during this post-Katrina turmoil and trauma that many folks who had fled the hurricane set up a chat room to keep track of each other and compare stories. In this chat room, Shaun ran across Roger Hyver’s nephew, Chris Hyver. She asked about Roger and learned he was living in Las Vegas where he had a successful 20-year career working for the company that manages the Las Vegas Convention Center. “Is he on Facebook?” Shaun asked Chris. He was.
And the rest, as they say, is history. At first the Facebook contacts were casual, catching up with each other’s lives and comparing notes on old friends and acquaintances. But, soon, things got a little more personal and Shaun confessed to Roger that she had had a girlhood crush on him. (One thing she most regrets losing in the flood following the hurricane is her school notebooks where she had written, “Shaun loves Roger.”) Roger was shocked to learn of her long-ago infatuation.
Shaun and Roger assured each other that it was silly to think this relationship would go anywhere. It just wasn’t practical. By now, Shaun was the CFO for a great little downtown Knoxville public relations agency called Moxley Carmichael and Roger had a solid career in Las Vegas. “I told him I would not leave Knoxville,” she reports. Roger decided to come to Knoxville for a visit. He never had been here before.
The visit went great, but it was just for a weekend. I remember Shaun telling me that they were in love. They decided to have a long-distance relationship. I have to admit I was skeptical about the chances of that working out.
And it didn’t. They couldn’t stand it. So, on October 15, 2011, Roger quit his job, packed up his car and drove to Knoxville. The 2,000-mile trip took 31 hours. He drove it non-stop.
Not only does Roger love Shaun, but Roger loves East Tennessee. He has a job that he enjoys with the Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee.
Shaun and Roger got married earlier this month in a sweet little lakeside ceremony at Angelo’s at the Point in Dandridge. A bunch of us from Moxley Carmichael were there, along with the couple’s other close friends. “It really is a dream come true,” Shaun says. Best wishes, friends! (Now, doesn’t this make up for that divorce story?)