Tribune Print Share Text

A Love worth waiting for

Highland Springs couple traces decades-long journey to wedded bliss

Created date

January 24th, 2012

George and Millie Bush grew up in Los Angeles, learning the same curriculum and running in the same circles. But when Millie went to Los Angeles High School and George went to Fairfax High School, the two found themselves on opposing sides of a cross-town football rivalry. At the time, the pair couldn t have imagined that their paths would lead them back to each other, decades later, in Dallas.

Interrupted by war

We both enrolled at UCLA [University of California, Los Angeles] after high school, says George. By that time, Millie was engaged to one of my best friends, Dick Frary. George, a member of the first class of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps [ROTC] at UCLA, was called to active duty in May 1942. Dick, in the Army ROTC, was called up around the same time. When World War II broke out, everyone scattered in different directions, says Millie, who married Dick after he finished officer candidate school. Dick was wounded in battle in Europe. When he returned home, the couple welcomed their daughter, Sue. Dick lived until Sue s second birthday and died in 1947 from injuries sustained in the war. Meanwhile, after three years of destroyer duty in the western Pacific, George married his first wife in March 1945. The newlyweds attended Sue s christening party. My daughter says she s known George since birth, says Millie. To me, it seems that from the time Dick died, George has always been there when I needed him. After the war, George worked for the Veterans Administration as a contact representative, assisting veterans with their GI benefits and war widows with their pensions. I wanted to find out my rights as a war widow, says Millie. George researched the opportunities available to me, particularly in the area of education.

Thirty-year hiatus

George s last military assignment was at the Pentagon before he retired in 1968. He and his second wife, Dorothy, began researching retirement communities. We chose Greenspring [an Erickson Living community in Springfield, Va.] and became very active in community life there, says George. I joined the Greenspring Players and the chorus and served on the resident advisory council. Meanwhile, Millie retired and moved to New York to help care for her granddaughter while her daughter, Sue, worked. When Sue was transferred to Dallas, Millie came too. George s wife, Dorothy, passed away in 2009. That Christmas he sent family and friends a touching letter paying tribute to Dorothy. Millie received the letter and wrote back, offering her condolences. By that time, George and Millie hadn t seen each other in more than 30 years. My email address was on the stationery, says Millie. George and I started to exchange emails, mostly memories of UCLA. As the pair continued to correspond via email, George asked Millie if he could visit her in Dallas, but she resisted. I knew the minute we saw each other the old spark would come back, says Millie. I told him I couldn t possibly turn my life upside down. George s reply, a spirited Okay, go back to your cocoon, brought Millie to her senses. I realized I had to open the door to the possibility of change, she recalls. Millie gave George the go-ahead to visit in the fall of 2010. That was all the encouragement George needed. Even before his trip south, George contacted Christina Christie sales counselor at Highland Springs, the Erickson Living community in Dallas, to see about moving from Greenspring to Highland Springs. In the end, his gumption paid off. He has a twinkle like nobody else, says Millie. As soon as I saw him in the airport, I knew I was a goner. Twenty-four hours after George landed in Dallas, the couple was shopping for rings. They tied the knot on January 14, 2011, at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Richardson. I saw Highland Springs as it was built, says Millie. I never imagined I d be living here with George. Free from family and work pressures facing most newlyweds, the couple has had a remarkable first year of marriage, well worth the decades-long wait. My daughter and granddaughter are delighted to have a man in the family, says Millie. They said the first thing they had to do was to make him a Texan, so they bought him a Stetson. Our kids get along famously, adds George, who has been busy singing in the Highland Springs Chorus and rehearsing for the drama club s next performance. We just seem to fit together, Millie says.