Throwing a coat over a puddle so a lady won't get her feet wet is chivalrous; lifting a lady over a puddle so she won't ruin her brand new tall red boots leads to true love -- at least it did for Darla Owen.
"I say that he swept me off my feet literally," she says.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “He looked kind of sloppy and disheveled and he had on an old Army jacket and that’s when Army jackets weren’t cool. But he was good-looking and I remember thinking he was kind of a diamond in the rough.”
He says: “I thought she had real pretty legs, real cute from the back. I hadn’t seen her face. But she was real thin and she had really pretty legs and she was a sharp dresser.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “All of my bridesmaids stayed at my house. Having women or girls who loved me and cared about me so joyfully celebrating this milestone in my life — that’s what I remember most about that day.”
He says: “I was just really nervous because she wanted me to say a prayer and I had never done any public speaking so I was trying to memorize the prayer. I had it there to help me a little bit if I forgot but I was real worried about that. I was sure about the marriage.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
She says: “Make a decision to stay committed even when it’s not fun, even when it’s hard … I feel like more times than not you’ll be glad you did.”
He says: “Try to always consider the other person’s feelings, and you have to accept that there are some feelings and personality traits that you’re never going to change with your spouse. You have to learn to accept those instead of being upset about them all the time.”
Darla had just returned to the Murray State University Campus in Murray, Ky., in 1970 following Christmas break and she was heading from a campus hangout called The Hut to her next class. It had been raining heavily, and a stream of water rushed down the street.
"There was no way to walk around it, and I thought if I jump it I'm afraid I'm going to split my skirt and if I walk through it I'm going to ruin my new boots," she says.
David Haas, also a junior, was about 20 feet behind her.
"She had on a red raincoat and a red mini skirt and high red leather boots and she was as cute as a button. She backed up a step and she was getting ready to run," he says. "I just put my left hand around her and lifted her up and just stepped through the water and put her on the other side."
It was spur-of-the-moment decision, his attempt to help a damsel in distress.
"My first thing was, 'How dare you?'" says Darla. "But then I looked up and he looked so harmless, like a good all-American guy.'"
He asked about her plans for the weekend and he thought she was being evasive when she answered that she was going home for church. It was the truth; her father was a minister, and she was the organist in his church, she went home almost every weekend.
By the time he saw her again a few weeks later at The Hut he had heard from his fraternity brothers that she was "a real good Christian, didn't go to dances or fraternity parties and didn't smoke or drink."
"What I didn't know was that a lot of the fraternity guys had bets going to see if any one of them could kiss me," Darla says. "That piqued his curiosity and every man loves a challenge."
He cooked for her on their first date -- Catalina steak, with snow ice cream for dessert.
"He played this little psychological game," she says of the next few dates. "He said, 'I'm not easy. I'm just letting you know, so don't try to kiss me.'"
That remark prompted her to turn her head when he leaned in to kiss her at the end of their fifth date.
"He laughed and said, 'I told you not to try anything. I can't believe you did that,'" she says.
It was their seventh date, when they were watching TV at his place that she finally let him kiss her.
"It was a sweet, tender moment. I think at that point the joking had kind of calmed down," she says.
About a year later, David picked up Darla for a date and as he drove, without taking his eyes off the road, he proposed.
"He said, 'I was wondering if you would do me the honor of being my wife.' Even though we had been dating a year and were having lots of fun and we had fallen in love, we had not discussed marriage," she says.
She didn't say no -- but she did turn him down. She needed to be sure, she told him. He said he understood, but that he wouldn't ask again.
"He said, 'I love you and I want to marry you and I'm not going to change my mind on that but I'm not going to ask you again,'" she says.
Darla finished her teaching degree and left for a summer of interpreting in Belize and Guatemala. While she was there, she wrote a letter to David, letting him know she was ready to marry him. At summer's end, she would start a teaching job in Houston and David would start medical school in Louisville, Ky.
"I thought, 'OK, I have to make a decision,'" she says. "We've either got to fish or cut bait, so to speak, because we'll end up going our separate ways if we're not engaged."
He got her letter, and he met her at the airport with a dozen red roses.
They were married a year later, on June 16, 1973, in First Methodist Church in Mayfield, Ky., in a ceremony officiated by Darla's father and the pastor of the Louisville church David attended.
They lived in Louisville for 19 years, and then moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where they lived for three years. They moved to Maumelle in 1995.
David and Darla have three children -- Matthew Haas of Benton; Molly Reich of Plano, Texas; and Jordan Haas of Little Rock. They also have five grandchildren.
David says he knew right away that Darla was the one for him.
"It took her two years, but it only took me three weeks to make that decision," he says. "It's been a great marriage."
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Dr. David Haas and his wife, Darla, were married on June 16, 1973, in a ceremony officiated by her father and the pastor of David’s church. “I had asked my dad, who was marrying us, to please not cry. He made it fine the first two-thirds of the ceremony but then I looked up and saw his lower lip trembling and tears filling his eyes,” Darla says. “I cried, my sister cried, all of the bridesmaids cried, then I heard sniffles in the audience. Sweet tears, for sure, but I had hoped for a tearless ceremony.”
High Profile on 12/30/2018
Print Headline: Chivalry wasn't dead; he swept her off her feet