A college friendship, rekindled into romance

07/05/2014 7:00 AM

07/01/2014 12:00 PM

That September of 1949, Don Potts was pleased with the new reporter for the Graceland College newspaper in Lamoni, Iowa. Freshman Barbara Elledge handed in her work on time and was a good writer.

After two years of school, Don returned home to New York and worked as a bricklayer, trying to save money for medical school. Barbara moved home to Independence and trained as an X-ray technician.

When the New York bricklayers went on strike, Don followed a friend to Kansas City and worked in construction. He and Barbara met again in the winter of 1951, when both sang in the Messiah choir at their church. Don remembered Barbara from school and asked her out for coffee, and their relationship began.

First impressions:

Barbara: “I admired his big goals and enjoyed his sense of humor and his intelligence.”

Don: “I was very comfortable with her and could tell her anything.”

The unfolding: Within months, they realized they were in love. The next winter, Don borrowed money from his sister and bought an engagement ring. He proposed on Dec. 31, 1952. Six months later, Don was drafted.

Barbara’s mother wasn’t wild about the match: She wasn’t sure Don would really become a doctor. But Barbara loved him, and they were married in December 1953 in Independence while Don was home on leave.

Favorite shared activities: They like good music, food and wine, and they are dedicated community volunteers.

Careers: Don worked in family practice medicine and taught at the UMKC School of Medicine. Barbara served on the Independence City Council and, from 1982 to 1990, as the city’s mayor.

Family: They live in Independence and have four children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

What keeps their relationship strong: They are both busy and support each other in their community involvement and their individual pursuits. At the end of the day, it’s a treat for them to go out to dinner and catch up.

The qualities they most appreciate in each other:

Barbara: “Don cares for people. He’s an amazing volunteer, and I’ve been so touched by all his community work and his ability to provide medical care for people. Plus, Don is always interesting. I’m very happy with him.”

Don: “Barbara is steadfast and supportive. She works hard and is frugal. We have a lot of fun together. ”

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

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