My Drover Love Story: Lynn and Brenda Adams

My Drover Love Story: Lynn and Brenda Adams
Lynn and Brenda at the Tinsel Ball (left) and in 2020 (right)

For Lynn and Brenda Adams, their journey of love discovered, lost and rediscovered was 20 years in the making, followed by another 25 years of celebrating their unique story.

“I’d like to say it was love at first sight—it was something at first sight—but it was a love that stayed with me,” Lynn recalls of the short-lived romance cultivated with Brenda Pettigrew in 1973, during the first semester of their freshman year at Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts. “She was effervescent, playful, beautiful, tall—the kind of woman I had pictured in my mind’s eye. She was always the standard by which I ended up measuring all other women.”

Lynn came to this small college in Brenda’s hometown of Chickasha completely by chance after he graduated from Waurika High School. He had considered other universities but heard OCLA was starting a basketball team to compete at the NAIA level. Since he and his future college roommate had finished their high school careers with an undefeated state championship season, trying their hand with an upstart athletic program seemed the perfect opportunity.

As fate would have it, Brenda was also associated with the basketball team as a member of the first squad of cheerleaders. The closest she had come to cheerleading in high school was as a member of the precision drill team, but she was in on the ground floor as her local university launched its intercollegiate athletics.

Although they had common ground in the gymnasium, it was in the corridors of Davis Hall that they became acquainted. While they saw each other across the basketball court during games and even managed some occasional social time afterwards, one date that stands out in their minds: the holiday Tinsel Ball. It is the only photo of the love-struck couple from more than 45 years ago that has survived the years.

Lynn seemed to have the inside track, when he shared his plans to transfer to the University of Oklahoma to study architecture the following year, Brenda knew she had to make a choice.

“I knew that when he got to OU, he’d be around all those sorority girls and I’d be 35 miles away,” she said. In a time before cellphones, Brenda saw the distance as too great of a gulf, and, while she was not one to stand on ceremony or be deterred by obstacles, she notes that it was a time “when girls didn’t call guys,” and she doubted Lynn would stay in touch. In her mind, he’d be busy dating sorority girls. As it turned out, that’s exactly what he did, and it was a sorority girl he ended up marrying.

So Brenda ended what had been a budding and promising romance, and, while she remained Lynn’s ideal, he also always remained in her heart. She admits that two and a half years after they went their separate ways and as her wedding approached, she found herself trying to find Lynn before walking down the aisle. Unsuccessful, she remembers sitting outside the university chapel where her wedding would be held and crying.

Fast forward 20 years. Both Lynn and Brenda have married other people and started families of their own. But the marriages didn’t last—some might say because “what might have been” lingered in the recesses of both of their hearts.

It had been decades since they’d last seen each other and neither Lynn nor Brenda knew they lived only 45 miles apart. That’s when basketball played another significant role in their relationship.

USAO was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the athletics program, and Lynn received an invitation to the festivities. Brenda, as it turned out, was on the committee organizing the anniversary, and, when they saw each other again at the event, the connection from years earlier was unmistakable. When they met again the following week, that spark two decades before—a longing that smoldered as an unremitting ember—had become an inferno.

Less than two years later, they were exchanging nuptials in their first wedding. They had missed being together for the first 20 years of their married lives, so they decided that one ceremony just would not do. A trip to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley to enjoy autumn’s colorful blaze provided the perfect setting for an intimate outdoor wedding at, appropriately enough, Honeymooners Overlook.

For the first five years of their marriage, this initial elopement remained a secret. Then came the second wedding, four months after the elopement, which included their combined five children as part of the wedding party and was held in the USAO chapel on a frigid February night.

“We enjoy celebrating two wedding anniversaries each year,” said Lynn proudly. “Although our families now know about the first wedding when we eloped, it still feels special like it did for the first five years when we were the only two who knew about it.”

Brenda mentions that one of the reasons the elopement stayed a secret so well was that during the four months between the ceremonies, they both continued their relationship as they had prior to the wedding, with Lynn in his Oklahoma City apartment and Brenda in her house in Ninnekah.

“We prefer being able to live together under the same roof,” Brenda said, which has not always the case throughout their lives together.

Both Lynn and Brenda work in the newspaper business, and multiple career transitions have necessitated them living in different states at times— usually for only a few months, but once for more than a year.

“We’ve been through a lot during the past 20-some-odd years, moved more times than we liked, and changed jobs more times than we ever thought we would. But through it all, we always had each other, and that helped us make it through some trying times,” said Brenda.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 26 years since we got back together,” said Lynn. “It seems like only yesterday that we were reunited, only yesterday that we were married—twice. It’s as if we’ve always been together, that the 20 years we spent apart never really happened. I guess that’s because Brenda was always in my heart.”

“We were made for each other, we belong together,” said Brenda. “We missed out on 20 years together, but I can’t say that I would have changed that. We found each other again at the right time, and we’ve made wonderful memories since.”

Lynn, who sang “Beautiful in My Eyes” to Brenda at their second wedding ceremony, borrows a quote from the Joshua Kadison song to sum up their life together: “True love never dies.”

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