After a dance rehearsal, Linda Putthoff, 25, walked up to Harlan Brownlee, 28, and declared, “You’re cute.”
Harlan blushed and said, “Thanks.”
They were both in relationships with others, but that icebreaker started a wonderful friendship. That fall of 1987, both were professional dancers at the fledgling City in Motion dance company. They had similar movement styles and were often cast in duets.
“When you’re literally responsible for catching each other, you develop a high level of trust,” Harlan says.
Linda: “Harlan is hilarious and incredibly smart. I was impressed by his excellence and his ability to think and create artistically.”
Harlan: “Linda’s integrity and commitment to our company attracted me. She had a steadiness and consistency and she was easy to work with.”
The unfolding: They saw each other every day and got to know each other very well. Along with the dance company, they traveled together, even roomed together, and they were close friends.
In the summer of 1990, Linda asked Harlan to accompany her to the wedding of a mutual friend. Romance was in the air, and after the wedding they stopped by a park, where they spontaneously shared a kiss.
That kiss was a pivotal moment. Both knew they wanted to expand their relationship.
After that, they spent even more time together, and their connection flourished.
The proposals and wedding: In 1992, Harlan proposed to Linda. “You’re not ready for marriage,” she told him.
He was disappointed but vowed to become a better person. “We both knew that our ultimate goal was to help each other grow,” he says.
Six months later, Harlan proposed again. “You’re getting closer, but no,” Linda said.
He waited another six months and asked her, “Are you going to marry me or what?”
They were wed on April 30, 1994, in Kansas City.
Favorite shared activities: They love being outside, walking, spending time with family and just hanging out.
Careers and family: Harlan is president and CEO of Arts KC, the regional arts council. Linda is owner of Plaza Wellsprings, a movement studio, teaching yoga and Pilates. They live in Kansas City and have three children and one grandchild.
What keeps their relationship strong: They admire each other’s strengths and have complementary skills that help them manage their busy lives. They are dedicated to helping each other grow.
The qualities they most appreciate in each other:
Harlan: “Linda is nurturing, caring and an amazing mom. She has been rock-steady throughout our relationship. She’s my confidante, my lover, my friend and my greatest cheerleader.”
Linda: “Harlan is brilliant, reliable, responsible and always interesting. Plus, he’s still really cute.”
Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.