As Judy Bishop, 34, rode the elevator to her office, she noticed another passenger and thought, “My goodness, why am I so attracted to that woman?”
The woman, Peggy Heldstab, 26, got off on Judy’s floor and walked into Judy’s workplace, the EKG department at the now-closed Trinity Lutheran Hospital in Kansas City. Shortly afterward, they were introduced. Peggy was there temporarily to train staffers in echocardiography.
It was the spring of 1976. Though Judy had known since she was 9 that she was gay, she was then married with two children. Peggy also had been married and had two children. She had divorced and come out as a lesbian three years earlier.
Peggy: “Judy was intelligent and friendly. I enjoyed talking to her.”
Judy: “I kept thinking, ‘I really do like this girl more than a friend.’
Several weeks later they went out for lunch. Judy tried to ask Peggy questions about being a lesbian; she had never talked to a gay woman. Peggy skirted the subject.
Days later, Peggy leaned over and gave Judy a quick kiss.
“My heart went 300 times a minute. I knew I was crazy about Peggy,” Judy says. But Peggy was in a relationship with a woman and Judy was married.
Time passed. Judy separated from her husband and began a relationship with a woman. She and Peggy stayed in occasional touch. Then Peggy moved to Highland, Kan., and in the spring of 1993, Judy went to see her. During that visit, their feelings for each other emerged. By September, Peggy and Judy were living together in Kansas City.
Marriage and family:
They were married in Iowa on Oct. 26, 2013. They now live in Lee’s Summit and enjoy spending time with their families. Peggy has six grandchildren and Judy has two.
Favorite shared activities:
They enjoy watching movies, going to museums and working with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Judy has been a registered nurse for more than 50 years, working in critical care, as a manager and educator. She served in the U.S. Army for 20 years and achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel. She is also a medical volunteer for Heart to Heart International.
Peggy is retired from her career as a medical technician.
What keeps their relationship strong:
They support each other in living out their dreams and have complementary skills and talents.
The qualities they most appreciate in each other:
Peggy: “Judy is beautifully childlike. She’s a joy to be around.”
Judy: “Peggy really understands me and encourages me. I love our relationship.”