Kathy Daly was just having a good time when James Fuller stepped into her life.
Kathy had agreed to go with a friend to dance lessons at the Fred Astaire Ballroom Dance, although she had no intention of signing up for lessons herself.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “I loved him. That sounds corny as heck, but it’s true. I’ve gotta be real.”
He says: “Excitement. She’s joyful and she has a lot of life in her — still does.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “It was just a great, great time. I was so happy. There’s lots of little things I think of when I think of our wedding but overall it was just happiness.”
He says: “I got about halfway to the church and realized I forgot the rings so I had to turn around and go back and get them.”
My advice for a long happy marriage:
She says: “We don’t go to bed angry, we don’t have big blowup fights, we talk things out — even if it’s hard, even if it’s painful, we talk everything out. And to do that you have to be honest. That’s the secret.”
"They had this thing where if someone brought a friend you got three free dance lessons. That's how they got people into the studio," Kathy says. "I agreed to go and I was like, you know, I'm not going to do this."
She enjoyed going with her friend, so she did sign up. There were practice sessions, outside of regular lessons, for anyone who wanted to come and practice their steps with whichever other students turned out for those sessions, and she went to some of those as well.
James Fuller, too, had signed up for lessons after a friend invited him to try out a class. And he, too, was just having fun at the practice sessions.
"We just happened to dance together at that and I was like, 'Oh, wow,'" says Kathy, a romance novelist. "I fell head over heels. I know that sounds corny. It was really just meeting his eyes for the first time -- and he wears glasses and it was dark. It was just having that eye contact and having this jolt inside me. I can't explain it. People have been trying to explain that forever."
James didn't have quite that dramatic a reaction to meeting Kathy, but he did want to see her again, even after leading her on just one turn around the dance floor.
"The women always outnumbered the men at these things," Kathy explains. "You would dance with one person just for the minute and it was just down and back. This sounds awkward but it was really fun. I can't remember if I danced with him another time during that night, but there was just something there."
She mentioned to her dance instructor that she was interested in James, and her dance instructor quietly relayed that information to James, who came back to the next practice session in hopes of seeing her again.
Kathy's mother, who had also enrolled in ballroom dance classes, was with her at the next practice session. They found a table -- and a slightly inconvenient seating arrangement.
"My mother didn't do this on purpose," Kathy says, "but he sat down and then my mother sat next to him and I sat on the other side so my mother talked to him more that night than I did."
Kathy did manage to ask him that night if he would like to go out sometime.
"I just beat him to the punch," she says. "I'm very much direct as far as stuff like that and I was just like, let's get this going."
James got her number from the receptionist and called to ask her for a date a few days later.
On April 15, 1992, they had drinks in the bar at the top of the Excelsior Hotel and then walked by the river.
"It was just a get-to-know-you-date," she says. "It was a really nice date."
They finished up their dance lessons and didn't sign up for more.
"I think we still enjoyed it but we were just consumed with each other," she says, recalling weekend trips to Petit Jean and outings to play pool. "We got to know each other really well, we got to know each others' families."
Six months or so after their first date, they were talking about the practicality of merging their finances.
"We just said, 'Oh, we'll get married,'" she says. "We were spending all of our time together. It just made sense."
Kathy's younger brother, Jim Daly, got engaged around the same time as Kathy and Jim.
"We were both getting married in the summer and Mom and Dad would have to deal with two weddings. I don't know whose idea it was to have a double-wedding but we talked to each other's fiances and then we talked together," Kathy says. "I was never wanting to be the center of attention anyway so I was perfectly fine sharing my special day with my brother and my sister-in-law. James is the same way."
They were married on June 12, 1993, in a double wedding ceremony with Jim and Karmen Daly in the Church of the Nazarene in Little Rock, followed by a reception at the Greek Orthodox Church.
They honeymooned in St. Petersburg, Fla., with a trip to Walt Disney World and plenty of time relaxing on the beach.
Kathy and James moved to Ohio after they were married and they lived there for 24 years before returning to Arkansas. They now live in Cabot.
They have three children -- Matt Fuller of Denver, Sydney Fuller of San Antonio and Zoie Fuller of Cabot.
"Our wedding was the last time we did any ballroom dancing," Kathy says. "But I really liked dancing because my instructor was really nice and I just had a really great time. It was a bonus meeting him. It was the best thing that ever happened."
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James Fuller and Kathy Daly met in a practice session at the Fred Astaire Ballroom Dance Studio in Little Rock in the spring of 1992. “It sounds corny, but it was ‘instalove,’ for me anyway,” Kathy says.
High Profile on 09/16/2018
Print Headline: They just danced right into each other's arms