EDMOND — If you're lucky, you find your soul mate.
If you're really blessed like John and Sandra Montgomery, of Edmond, you discover each other early in life and nurture a love affair that blossoms for decades.
First-grade crushes are not unheard of. That's what happened to John Montgomery, in Vinita.
It was the late 1940s, and there was one dark-haired girl who was too pretty for him to ignore. She remembers it well.
“I remember telling my mother about this boy who was always looking at me,” Sandra Montgomery said. “I think we noticed each other about the same time.”
He even figured out where she lived.
“I'd ride my bicycle by her place just to get a look at her,” he said.
By the time they reached third grade, even some adults suspected the children were fond of each other. As a class project, a teacher sent John over to Sandra's house to help her cut out valentines for Valentine's Day 1951.
Respect then love
The two close friends spent the next years liking each other intensely, but also keeping their distance and respecting each other. In high school, they even made the decision to try dating others — just to be sure. John has dated one other girl in his lifetime.
He can't forget the experience.
“I actually was on a double date with her (Sandra),” he said. “I was miserable with the girl I was with. I wanted to be with Sandra.”
John, who Sandra remembers as being shy, mustered up a mountain of courage during a movie night in Vinita. He spotted the girl he had loved since he was 7. Sandra remembers this part of the story as clearly as the day it happened in the 1950s.
“He sat down for a second, he leaned over and kissed my cheek and then got up and left,” she said. “It was the first time he kissed me. I was shocked.”
The kiss must have been nothing short of electric. By the time John was a junior in high school, he had made a decision. He wanted to marry Sandra. Sandra wanted to marry him.
Not so fast
John's dad wasn't in favor of the idea and there would be no 1959 wedding.
“He told me I wasn't ready,” John said. “I had to live more before I did that.”
The couple's life continued with high school graduation in 1960. John went to college for a year at Oklahoma State University. He enlisted in the Navy in 1961. He served a four-year hitch, with two stops in Vietnam.
Before his trips to Vietnam, his life's ambition became reality. He married Sandra on June 4, 1962, in Vinita, with about 200 friends and relatives in attendance. There was no time for a proper honeymoon.
From there they drove to San Diego, where John was stationed.
In 1963 the first of their two sons, John Montgomery II, was born.
The elder John was discharged from the Navy in August 1965. He completed his education at what is now Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Two days after graduation in 1968 he began a career with the Enro Shirt Co. After a brief stint in Iowa, the family moved to Edmond in July 1969.
A second son, Jason, was born soon after.
John and Sandra stayed in Edmond where they are today and recently celebrated their golden anniversary.
“Fifty years goes by in a hurry,” John said.
They were surprised with an anniversary celebration that included their two sons and their seven grandchildren — ranging in age from 8 to 24.
“They let us know at church (Fairview Baptist in Edmond),” Sandra said. “It was just great.”
Son Jason continues to be amazed by how strong and enduring a bond his parents have.
“They are great role models,” he said. “They are best friends and put each other first.”
John has some ideas as to how he and Sandra have stayed so in love for so long.
“Know God and keep your eyes on Him and each other,” he said. “We've enjoyed each other and have had fun.”
ANOTHER HAPPY ENDING
Together since birth, practically
It could be said that Johnnie and Cheryl Overbay have been together since birth.
Johnnie was born the night of Feb. 1, 1945, at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City. Six hours later on Feb. 2, Cheryl was born at St. Anthony. The same Catholic nun signed both their birth certificates.
They never lived more than 15 miles apart, but their second meeting was delayed until Cheryl's family moved to the south side of Oklahoma City. They officially met at U.S. Grant High School.
With parental blessing, they married July 3, 1962, with the understanding they had to finish high school.
The couple “really raised one another,” Johnnie said, “becoming best friends in the process.”
Steve Gust, For The Oklahoman
I remember telling my mother about this boy who was always looking at me.”