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Enduring love

Despite an inauspicious start, couple celebrates 58 years of bliss

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January 29th, 2014
man in tux with his wife
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It’s not the accessory every bride dreams of wearing on her big day. 

But for Deme Hronopoulos, a cast on her arm was a small matter, not enough to mar the joy she felt at marrying George Vrla.

“We were young and in love, and we’d already been through some tough times,” says Deme. “Getting married in a cast didn’t seem like a big deal.”

Young love

George and Deme met at a dance at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Okla. George was in pilot training, while Deme had just finished nursing school in Illinois and returned home to Enid to work at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

“She was wearing a pink sweater the night we met,” says George. “I thought she was beautiful.”

But the couple was young, both 21, and not ready for a serious commitment.

“I was transferred to Lake Charles Air Force Base in Louisiana,” says George. “We continued to see each other, but not as often as before.”

To lessen the distance between them, Deme applied for a nurse’s position at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. 

“When I told my parents I was moving to Dallas, my mom said, ‘You’re going to chase that boy until he catches you,’” says Deme. “She was right.”

Four years later, the couple was certain their futures included each other. They made plans to elope, only to have them changed in an instant.

Car accident derails plans

In December 1955, George and Deme were on their way from Louisiana to Texas to marry when they crested a hill on Interstate 90 and were struck by a drunk driver.

Deme sustained two broken arms and cuts across her face, while George suffered a badly bruised chest, a broken kneecap, and a broken wrist.

“My old ’53 Plymouth was pretty beat up,” says George. “It’s amazing our injuries weren’t more serious.”

George was taken to an Air Force hospital, while Deme was transported to a city hospital.

“As soon as Boone Powell, the CEO of Baylor Hospital, heard I was in a car accident, he sent an ambulance to pick me up and take me back to Dallas,” says Deme. “George and I had to put off getting married until we recovered.”

Two months later, on February 25, 1956, George and Deme finally wed.

Shortly after their wedding, George went to work as a pilot for American Airlines. Deme continued her work at Baylor Hospital. Together they raised two daughters, Jamie and Kelli.

New life at Highland Springs

In 2005, George saw an advertisement for a new retirement community coming to North Dallas. 

“I told Deme we should check it out,” says George. “Once we visited Springs, we liked everything about the community. We didn’t look anywhere else.”

The couple moved into their luxury two-bedroom, Wyeth-style apartment home in July 2007. 

“Our bay window faces due west,” says George. “We see the lights of Plano and enjoy the most beautiful sunsets every evening.”

The couple also met fellow residents who share their same anniversary.

“Clyde and Jody Jackson were married on February 25, 1956,” says George. “Clyde and I remind each other when our anniversaries are coming up.”

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