He summoned his courage, and they hit it off

08/16/2014 7:00 AM

08/16/2014 6:31 PM

Hal Hamilton, 48, had dropped by the singles dance at the DoubleTree Hotel in Overland Park several times. Usually he stayed about 15 minutes, then drove back to his Grandview home.

But one autumn day in 1997, right before he was ready to make his escape, he spied Bea Gangel, 51, across the crowded room. He thought she was nice-looking. Though she was chatting with friends, Hal summoned the courage to walk up and ask her for a dance.

First impressions:

Hal: “Bea was honest, sincere and not afraid to joke around with me. Talking to her was very refreshing.”

Bea: “Hal was good-looking and he had a down-home country attitude, too. We just hit it off.”

The unfolding: They danced all evening. A week later, they went on a date. Both were divorced: Bea was looking for a life partner; Hal had resigned himself to spending his days alone. They were attracted to each other and were soon spending a lot of time together.

Love and marriage: After several months of dating, Bea knew Hal was the man for her. During that period, Hal struggled with physical problems and was finally diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He loved Bea and treasured her sweetness and caring, but he told her, “I understand if you don’t want to marry me because of this disease.”

Bea said, “I love you. We’ll face it together.” They were married June 19, 1998, in Belton.

Favorite shared activities and hobbies: They love going to movies, eating out, working in the yard and working out at the Belton Community Center.

Careers: Hal worked for RoadBuilders Machinery and Supply Co. but had to quit because of his illness. Bea worked at Noe’s Jewelry in Raymore for eight years and then retired.

Family: They live in Belton. Hal has one son; Bea has four children. Together they have six grandchildren.

What keeps their relationship strong: Transparency, honesty and regular communication. “He can look at me and see if I’m upset,” Bea says. “Then we can talk things out.”

Their ability to discuss everything has helped Hal with his complicated health issues. “Having Bea support me through all these physical challenges is an amazing gift,” he says.

The qualities they most appreciate in each other:

Hal: “Bea loves me and makes me feel loved. I had questioned if I would ever feel loved again. Now that I have her love, I really appreciate it.”

Bea: “Hal is loving, sensitive and caring. He never puts me down and he always treats me like a queen.”

Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to lovestory@kcstar.com.

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