Cupid's arrow reached Hawaii with a lasting effect

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Tommy and Ruth Haynes as newlyweds in 1953. Submitted photo

One never knows when Cupid's arrow will strike or how potent or lasting its effect will be. In the case of one Nevada couple, the arrow traveled from Zanesville, Ohio, across the Pacific Ocean and into the heart of an airman stationed in Hawaii.

It all began when a friend of Ruth Elaine Kirkpatrick's sent her a picture from Hawaii. The photo was of the inside of the friend's house, but what caught the eye of Kirkpatrick was the handsome uniformed airman in the photograph. "When I saw him, I knew he was the one," she said. That was in 1951.

Kirkpatrick was already engaged to another man, but she began writing weekly letters to Airman second class Tommy Lee Haynes shortly after seeing his photograph. "I just thought he was wonderful -- I still do," she said. Haynes answered all the letters. They went back and forth that way for well over a year. We tried to get to know each other," Haynes said. The "letters got more personal as time went by," and wedding plans were discussed.

Tommy and Ruth Haynes in 2013 after 60 years of marriage. Submitted photo

Airmen stationed in Hawaii could not return to the mainland except to marry, so Kirkpatrick had to sign an affidavit saying she was going to marry Haynes before he could travel. The day before she signed the form, she broke off the engagement to Gene Fulton, but she didn't tell Haynes about it until he arrived in Zanesville in 1953. Finally, Haynes came back to the mainland to meet the woman who had won his heart.

Haynes said a military transport dropped him in Georgia and he traveled on to Zanesville to see her. After he met her family members, Haynes' parents traveled from their home in Decatur, Ill., to meet the prospective bride and her family.

The group then went to Indianapolis, Ind., where Kirkpatrick had been employed as a secretary for her uncle who was a pastor there. She wanted him to perform the service. Ten days after meeting face-to-face, Tommy and Ruth were married on Valentine's Day, 1953. Today marks their 60th wedding anniversary.

The happy couple returned to Honolulu and shared a home with the friends who had sent her the original photo that started the love affair. "We had a nine month honeymoon in Hawaii," Tommy said. After Tommy's time in the Air Force was over, the couple returned to Decatur where their first child was born in 1954.

The Haynes family bounced around quite a bit. Tommy pastored here for three years, there for two or three and the family spent time in California, Florida, Montana and North Dakota before landing here in Nevada in 1988. "We've been nomads'" Tommy said.

"We thought this was the banana belt," Tommy said. After several years up north the weather seemed warm to them. Tommy pastored at the Assembly of God Church in Nevada for a few years and went to work as a maintenance director for Beverly Health Care. Ruth was a homemaker for some of those years, but has "worked for most of our married life." She worked in the cafeteria at the Nevada Regional Medical Center for 15 years.

Right now the Haynes family takes life easy. Tommy is still pastoring at the Anchor Fellowship Church on South Pine Street in Nevada. He likes to fish a bit and has a business making and selling unique custom made ink pens. Ruth spends her time in the home and with the multitude of grandchildren and great-grandchildren the pair has. Their three children, Linda Atkins, of Nevada, Tony Haynes of Rolla, Mo., and Lisa Kirschenmann of Nevada have given them 12 grandkids and 26 great-grandchildren and there is "another on the way," said Tommy.

Tommy has always given Ruth roses and chocolates on Valentine's Day. This year will probably be no different he said. It probably won't be like their 50th anniversary when he gave her a single rose and had 49 more delivered to her. They have been back to Hawaii a couple of times, and Ruth said "I'd like to go back again."

They don't have real big plans to mark this occasion. Lisa has made arrangements for some of the Treble Effects and Soundsational Singers to pay them a visit. Three of their grandchildren sing for the school groups. Tommy said, "I told her I was going to take her out to dinner and when she asked where, I told her McD's." The family already celebrated the occasion with a dinner in Joplin, but their daughter Lisa plans on making them dinner for the special day.

They bought the house where they live in 1996 and many of the letters they wrote to each other were lost in a fire a few years ago. But that hasn't dimmed their spirits any. Tommy quit his "day job" when he turned 80, but he is still pastoring. Ruth is recovering nicely from a broken pelvic bone she suffered in a fall, but both are in good spirits and happy to be together even though Tommy said, "we just kind of sit here and argue with each other." Then he back pedaled a little and said, "no, we get along pretty good."

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