Shawn Benjamin, 15, was having fun with her girlfriends. It was June 1986, and their singing group had just performed at a big local concert.
When the girls sauntered into Arthur Bryant’s barbecue at 12th and Brooklyn, Shawn spied the concert’s DJ standing in line. Her girlfriends dared her to talk to him.
So Shawn walked up and said, “Don’t I know you?”
Devan Taylor, 18, looked at her and replied, “No, you don’t, but I’d like to get to know you.”
Later, Shawn and Devan exchanged phone numbers. In the following weeks, Devan phoned several times, but Shawn never returned the calls.
Two months later, Devan was on the Country Club Plaza, sitting in his Mercury Caprice listening to music, when Shawn walked by.
“Don’t I know you?” she asked.
Devan soon learned that Shawn had been living with her aunt and had never received his messages. They talked and soon began dating.
Shawn: “I liked the fact that he worked every day and had business savvy. He was tall, articulate, good-looking and had his own vehicle.”
Devan: “Shawn was drop-dead gorgeous, funny and easy to be around.”
In the early months of dating, Shawn had a brief stay in the hospital.
“During that time, Devan was so thoughtful and sweet,” Shawn says. “I decided he was the guy for me.”
Devan also realized Shawn was the woman for him.
In fall 1987 they had a child together, and in 1988 Devan went into the military and served for several years. After he returned to civilian life, they quarreled and separated.
When they’d been apart for three months, Devan put a note on Shawn’s door: “We need to get married and get on with our lives.”
Shawn agreed, and they were wed a few days later, on Oct. 1, 1993, at the Jackson County Courthouse in Independence.
Careers and family: They are the owners of Sweet T’s Soul Food in Blue Springs (and are about to open a location in downtown Kansas City as well). Devan does the baking; Shawn does the cooking. Shawn is the visionary, and Devan manages the business end. They live in Lee’s Summit and have five children, ages 16 to 27.
Favorite shared activities: They have enjoyed singing and performing together. They also love attending their children’s sporting events.
What keeps their relationship growing: Their faith is the backbone of their marriage. Working together forces them to grow, and their sense of humor keeps them strong and connected.
The qualities they most appreciate in each other:
Devan: “Shawn has a sensual toughness. Plus she’s smart, pretty, and loves her children and family.”
Shawn: “Devan is so funny. He’s mentally strong, good-looking, and he’s a nice guy.”
Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.