How a sore shoulder led to a lifetime together

06/07/2014 7:00 AM

06/07/2014 10:00 AM

For weeks, physician John McCalla had been hearing about the marvelous Catherine Donnici.

It was April 1958 in Kansas City. Catherine’s regular doctor, John’s boss, was convinced that John, 33, and Catherine, 28, were made for each other. So when Catherine came into the office with a sore shoulder, she was surprised and disappointed to see a strange young doctor.

“I’ll try to help the pain,” John told her, prescribing some pills. Catherine thought he was extremely polite.

But when she received a call from him that evening, she worried she had some dread disease.

“I hope you don’t think I’m too bold,” John said, “but would you consider going out with me?” She happily agreed.

First impressions:

Catherine: “John had a wonderful sense of humor. Plus he was a gentleman.”

John: “Catherine was pretty and pleasant to be with.”

The unfolding: Catherine knew from the beginning John was the man for her. “He was so nice,” she says. “Since my doctor instigated our meeting, I figured John must be good stock.”

Within three weeks, John realized Catherine was the woman for him.

Catherine was the talk of her Italian neighborhood after she started dating John because he was Irish.

The proposal and wedding: Near Christmas 1958, the two were sitting in a car overlooking the West Bottoms when John pulled out a ring and asked Catherine to marry him. “I was very happy,” she says. “We loved each other so much. We were always thinking of each other and still are.”

They were married June 27, 1959, at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Kansas City.

Careers: Catherine worked as a secretary at First National Bank. Then she raised their children and did volunteer work. John specialized in anesthesiology and worked at several area hospitals. After retiring, he volunteered as an auxiliary officer in crime prevention for the Kansas City Police Department.

Family: John and Catherine live in Brookside and enjoy spending time with their four children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Favorite shared activities: They like traveling, singing in church choirs and spending time with family. “We enjoy each other whatever we do,” John says.

What keeps their relationship strong: Their relationship is based on respect, trust and shared values. They continue to appreciate each other and like to hold hands while they sit on their sofa.

The qualities they most appreciate in each other:

Catherine: “John is reliable and he can make me laugh. He’s a quality person and a good husband and father.”

John: “Catherine’s always helpful and supportive. She’s a lovely person and I continue to treasure her company.”

Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to

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