SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE!
2010 Important Moments
Ed Akin and Tracy
Bill Bates and Beverly
2012 - Bill Bates and Beverly Hickle
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2012 4:29 PM
Subject: Wedding of Bill Bates and Beverly Hickle
Since you enjoy hearing
about weddings among the dance community, I thought I would share
Bill and I met on the
dance floor last August (Wild West) and got married May 6, 2012.
have no fear, that old SSQQ Romance Magic lives on!!
Bill and Beverly Bates
2012 - Ed Akin and Tracy Schweinle
written by Rick Archer
Akin and Tracy Schweinle were married in lovely wedding ceremony
held at the Rice University Chapel on Saturday, February 11.
respect for the solemnity of the occasion, I decided not to
photograph the wedding. That said, I can at least report on my
were about 80 people in attendance. Unlike most weddings where
I know just a few people, I would have to say 67% of the audience
appeared to be SSQQ Lifetimers.
particular, I saw so many people who were on our most recent SSQQ
dance cruise over Labor Day 2011 that I thought I was having a
flashback to Formal Night.
concluded that Ed and Tracy consider us to be part of their family.
I held onto this sweet thought all night long because it made me
very happy to think it.
MG Anseman was the Best
Man. Everyone agreed that MG looked very handsome and very
distinguished up at the altar.
Tracy has been MG's
loyal assistant in dance class for so many years now I have lost
count. MG announced later on at the reception that Ed and
Tracy had actually met in his dance class. MG was very proud
of his Matchmaker status.
made similar claims over the years, I know that declaration made MG
Here MG is pictured with his lovely wife Gay.
I took MG and Gay's picture earlier in the evening.
Unfortunately Gay panicked and squinted her eyes shut.
Fortunately I took
another picture at the end of the evening. What a difference
two hours and several glasses of wine make.
Here I would have to say
that Gay appears, well, uh, quite gay indeed.
MG looks pretty darn
happy himself. As well he should. We all had a great
I recognized Al Domaque,
the wedding official, from dance classes, but I do not know him very
Al is pictured with Karen Eggert. You might wonder how I know
everyone's last name so well.
easy. Most of these people went on our last cruise. All
I had to do was pull up the "Who Went" roster and rattle off the names.
found an even easier way - almost all these people were on George
Sargent's Magic Bus Trip last year.
See for yourself.
took advantage of his position to give Ed, Tracy, and all of us in
the audience some sound words of advice on love, marriage, and
However it was Al's small joke that brought down the house. Al
commented that his sermon had managed to keep Tracy quiet for over
15 minutes, the longest spell of silence he had ever observed in all
his years of friendship with this loquacious lady.
Jerry LaTour is pictured
here with his wife Vickie, the former Vickie Bara.
Jerry served as one of
Here is a neat
coincidence. In relationship to today's wedding, Jerry and
Vickie were married ten years earlier in February 2002.
I happen to know this
because I found their names on the
SSQQ Wedding Hall of Fame list
that includes all the many people who have
met at SSQQ and gotten married.
I never get tired of
pointing out that SSQQ helped 250 couples get married during our
final ten years of business.
Yes, Jerry and Vickie
were the happy victims of the SSQQ Cupid who is responsible for so
many wonderful marriages. Jerry and Vickie were full-time
members of the 2002 SSQQ Western Swing
Manny Angulo is pictured
here with his lovely wife Michelle.
Like Jerry, Manny helped
usher us into the wedding ceremony.
Manny has something else
in common with Jerry. Manny met his wife at SSQQ-Bissonnet as
well. They married in 2008.
I nicknamed the former
Michelle Crossley "Spitfire" for her strong personality.
You always knew when Michelle was in the room and I say this with
complete respect. Michelle is a born attention getter.
One anecdote about
Michelle. She was one of the people stuck at SSQQ during
Tropical Storm Allison back in 2001. Michelle is fearless.
No flood was going to stop her from getting home.
So Michelle got into her
truck and headed into the night. Bad move. Michelle
ended up spending the night in her truck at some gas station.
But I don't think
Michelle was that fazed.
She and Manny look really happy
together. By the way, Michelle told me she just finished the
Greek Marathon. That would be the one in Greece. That is
Here are four members of an
SSQQ Rogue Gallery. Call them the Blonde Bombshells.
Talk about the Danger
Zone. I was terrified to go anywhere near them.
That's Sherry Thornton,
Joanne Hatley, Mary (Don't Call me Coffee) Cioffi, and Wendy
Here I am with my friend
George Sargent. George and I go so far
back that I can't even remember how far back we go. My first recorded memory
of George came on the 2004 Mardi Gras. This is the cruise
where George won all kinds of recognition. George was Rookie
of the Cruise, Most Valuable Player on the Cruise, and Most
Photographed Person on the Cruise.
When I finished the
cruise recap, I was astounded to discover George was in practically
every single picture. I have never before seen anyone with
such a homing instinct for cameras. That is how George acquired his
well-deserved nickname 'Mr. Handsome'.
As you can see, today George
is just as Handsome as ever. I wanted to be photographed next
to him because that way I was certain to appear in this story of
Tracy and Ed's Wedding. I often forget to take my own picture.
George has always been a
riddle to me. For example, George waited until the last
possible moment to sign up for last year's cruise. This year
he was the first person to sign up. Too weird.
asked me to remind everyone that he wants all of you to sign up for
Magic Party Bus on our upcoming
Magic 2012 trip.
George quickly ditched
me so he could have his picture taken with his pretty girlfriend
Liana has a nickname too
- Welcome to the Jungle (or 'Jungle' for short).
A few years back while
doing a crossword puzzle, I learned that a "liana" is a jungle vine.
Sure enough, on my
recent trip through a rainforest in Costa Rica, I was tickled when
our guide pointed to two large vines and called them "lianas".
Aha! So that's
what they look like. One thing that made me laugh is that in real
life Liana is almost as thin as these vines.
In honor of my friend, I
immediately had Marla snap my picture climbing an actual liana.
Here is a picture of
Peggy McElroy with her friend Mark.
Please forgive that I
have forgotten Mark's last name. Mark took some West Coast
Swing from me right before the studio closed in early 2010, then
headed off to Asia to attend to business interests.
That was two years ago
and now Mark is back. So is Peggy's smile.
Jim Colby and Marlane
Kayfes go all the way back to 2001.
They had just started to
date when they got stuck at SSQQ during the same Allison storm that
stranded Michelle Crossley in her truck.
Jim was a real hero that
night. He tried to make it home with his own truck, but
changed his mind. On the way back, he picked up enough
hamburgers to feed Napoleon's army. He brought the food back
to the studio to share with the people who had gotten trapped by the
rising waters. They had no choice but to
spend the night at the studio.
Tropical Storm Allison Story
Trust me, Jim's gift was
Jim went on to dance
greatness as a member of the world champion Heartbeat, an SSQQ dance team
in the early 2000s that won many trophies in western dance
I have to say I loved
Marlane's colorful combination.
The Grand Entrance
Here is a wonderful
picture of Tracy and Ed as they enter the Reception.
Before I forget, I want
to apologize to all the people who came to the Reception that I did
not get a photograph of.
Leroy Ginzel as well as
Betsy and Bob from very my own table were among my glaring omissions
(Betsy and Bob can be seen in the background of Marlane and Jim's
picture just above. Plus one picture of Betsy didn't come
Joseph Maytum was another
omission. I think he had to leave early.
Nina Rutiaga, Ed
Anderson, Jo Anne Armstrong and Judy Walsh are some other people who come
to mind. Fortunately, you at least spot all four of them in
the background of this picture of Tracy and Ed's Grand Entrance.
I might add I forgot to
get a picture of Marla and me together. So please forgive if I overlooked you.
It was not intentional.
Now let's take a look at
Ed and Tracy's First Dance together. I must say, they got
right to it. They entered the room and started to dance.
They danced a Nightclub, but I regret I didn't recognize the song.
We took the festivities
outside for a while and got some great pictures for our efforts.
On the left we have
Vivian Gustafson and Steve Gabino.
On the right we have
Marsha Baxmann and Don Wicks.
Very soon Don will be headed out to sea
in March for his first cruise.
Don and Marsharita are
going to the Eastern Caribbean with our group.
The two of them are very
excited. They are counting down the minutes!!
Marsharita was beaming
throughout the night. She had a real glow about her.
Iqbal Nagji and Barbara
Majors on the left look wonderful together.
On the right, Marlane
and Dee Medina took an equally delightful picture.
I don't know the couple
behind Marlane by name, but the gentleman was very nice to me.
He reminded me that we met back in 2008.
All in all, I think the
pictures make it pretty clear that this was a happy crowd.
It wasn't hard at all to
get people to smile for the camera on this special occasion.
Marla and Fran Zandstra
are really good friends. Can you tell?
What a beautiful
couple. This is Ray Wyatt and Mona Desdemona.
Not everyone at the
reception was from SSQQ. It just seemed that way.
I apologize, but I do
not know who these four people are.
I know Tracy invited
many of her friends from the hospital where she works to the Reception.
For that matter, Ed, a
Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice, surely
invited some of his colleagues since the event was held at the Cohen
House on the Rice Campus.
I don't know Ed that
well. Marla knows him better. Marla says he is quiet,
extremely kind, and thoughtful.
Her favorite word for Ed
I agree. Ed is a little on the reserved side, but has a
wonderful warmth about him. He seems very generous and giving.
Marla and I had the honor
of sharing a table with Gary and Cheryl Davis.
I thought Gary looked
unusually handsome... and I had not had a drop of wine at this
point. There was definitely something very different
Then it dawned on me...
this was the first time I had seen Gary without his Cowboy hat in
ages. I cracked up. Gary cleans up pretty good, doesn't
he? Gee whiz, I didn't even know he had hair!
Gary and Cheryl are
another couple who met at SSQQ. Marla and I had the honor of
being at their wedding in July 2004. Not long after Gary
married the former Cheryl Cormier, I had the pleasure of marrying
Marla two months later in September. I just wish I could
remember the exact date!
I asked Cheryl to dance
West Coast with me. Cheryl blanched. "I haven't danced
West Coast in ages!"
Hey, it's like riding a
bicycle. It all came back quickly. Cheryl aced
everything I threw at her. The girl's a pro on the dance floor!
Gary and Cheryl teach
western at SSQQ on Sundays at the same time as MG and Tracy.
Here we have Rice
University's answer to Rome's Trevi Fountain.
Marla, my daughter Sam
and I saw the Trevi Fountain when we took a cruise to Italy and
Greece in 2008 (Sam is now a Junior at UT).
Having seen both
fountains, I guess I have to give the nod to Trevi.
Rice's fountain was
quite impressive nonetheless.
Not only was the Rice
fountain very beautiful, so were the ladies.
That is Ann Wells in
blue and Kristi Wohfahrt joining Vivacious and Marsharita.
Those girls were having a lot of fun.
I could be wrong, but I
got the distinct impression that one more glass of wine for each of
them and this picture could have turned out even more interesting.
Kristi and Anne definitely looked like they were ready to go swimming.
On the left, thank goodness some
people behaved with decorum.
The quiet dignity of Ed
and Tracy set the example we all needed. They helped the rest of us stay under control despite the
generosity of an open bar. Many of us were feeling no pain
towards the end of evening.
Trust me, the pain
returned the next day. Oh, did it ever!! This Reception was
like a credit card bill - have fun now, pay later with interest
On the right we have two ladies
with Tracy. At the time, I had no idea the lady towering over
Tracy was a nurse. I assumed she was a supermodel who had
jetted in for the occasion.
The young lady was the
very definition of 'statuesque'. She was not only tall and
beautiful, she was graceful and charming as well.
Marla was honored to be included in a family picture with Ed and
Those young men are
Chris and Jeffrey Akin, Ed's sons. You don't suppose Ed
is proud of his granddaughter? What a picture!
Aha! A picture of
Rick and Marla dancing together.
Thank you so much, Jo
Anne Hatley, for sending it to me!
Jo Anne read my story of
the Reception. She noticed the spot where I confessed that I
had accidentally forgotten to get a picture of Marla and Rick
Jo Anne must be psychic.
Reading between the lines, Jo Anne somehow guessed that Marla was
Thank goodness Jo Anne
came to my rescue.
Not much of a picture
for Chris Shields, but I'll make it up to him.
Fortunately this is an
excellent picture of Daryl Armstrong and our beautiful Liana.
She looks pretty good for a Jungle girl.
This picture of Mark,
Peggy, Iqbal and Barbara helps to convey the richness and beauty of
our Reception area.
We all felt very
fortunate to have this luxurious setting to enjoy Ed and Tracy's
Here we have another
picture of Ed and
Tracy as they make their appearance at the Reception.
Celebrities in the
background include Aisha Currie (in blue) with her mother, Caitlin
Prescott, and Jo Anne Armstrong.
Like many of the people
at Ed and Tracy's wedding, Daryl and Jo Anne met at SSQQ.
Daryl and Jo Anne were married in October 1998 and held their reception
A lot of people are
unaware that they are an SSQQ wedding couple. One person asked
me why their names are not
listed on the SSQQ Wedding Hall of Fame list.
That is because they got
married just a month before the SSQQ web site debuted in November
I am very grateful to
Daryl and Jo Anne for carrying on the SSQQ tradition.
Here is Chris Shields
with Karen Eggert.
Much better picture of
I do not know the couple on the right, but they
were attractive both on and off
the dance floor.
They had some
great dance moves. The lady was quite fetching when she danced
I told the gentleman he
was the best dancer in the room who wasn't from SSQQ.
He laughed and said that
was easy because everyone else who was dancing came from the studio.
On the left, a great
picture of Cristina Lozano and Conor O'Muirgheasa
I was thrilled to see
Conor again. He left America five years ago to work in Iraq during the war
I have no doubt he has tales to tell.
In the meantime, what a
pleasure it is to have Conor back here in Houston after his long absence.
On the right, we have a
blurry picture of Mary Cioffi and Andrew Bach.
Their smiles are great,
but I must have flinched.
So that brings up a
If there is only one
picture of Mary and Andrew, but it is of poor quality, do you
include the picture or omit the picture?
What would the deep
thinkers of all ages say?
What would Plato say? What
would Miss Manners say?
What would Coffee say?
On the left we have
Jeanne Tobin and Aisha Currie.
Aisha once worked for
SSQQ and was a popular presence around the studio.
I understand she is
engaged to be married to her long-time boyfriend Greg May.
Jeanne was the Wedding
Coordinator! Wow. Nice job. I have to tell you, this
was quite a Wedding and quite a Reception.
Hats off to
I understand that Jean's
son Sean sang vocals at the wedding ceremony. I know Jeanne must
be very proud.
On the right we have
Merry Sherry drinking Merry Sherry alongside the handsome Edward
Sherry still holds the
record for the most undocumented misbehavior on SSQQ cruise trips.
I never catch her at anything, but oh the stories I hear.
Interestingly, same thing for Edward. He never gets caught
On the left, we have JA
Kirkland, Tracy's handsome son, along with his girlfriend.
During the party, I
quietly admired the medals this young man was wearing.
I got the distinct
feeling there's a story there, but I decided this was not the time
Still, I could not help
but be grateful for his service. MG is a former Marine, so I
have no doubt MG and JA not only only compared initials, but service
experiences as well.
Tracy's pretty daughter Kayla
was also at the Reception, but our paths never crossed. Too bad. I
wanted to meet her.
On the right we have two
working stiffs. That's Mitch Istre, DJ extraordinaire, and
Steve Gabino, photographer extraordinaire.
In their spare time,
they are also excellent dancers and great guys to get to know.
However, today they were here to offer their services to Ed and
and Ed are getting ready to cut the cake.
Marsharita was kind enough to lend her considerable
talents with two delicious wedding cakes.
Jeannie and MG, Marsharita and Jerry, Mitch and
Steve, Manny and Al plus a host of other
contributors, this was a true SSQQ family wedding.
This was a
special gathering of friends who have become
tightly knit through many shared dance moments and cruise
adventures over the years.
people were kind enough to point out my own role in
the gathering. I said just
being here was all the reward I needed. I could not
have asked for a happier experience seeing all these
people in action again.
to add Marla deserves credit too. Her work with the
cruise trips has added a dimension to our group that
is greatly appreciated.
I think of it, just like a family, we all play
In the midst of all the warmth and energy
swirling around me, I had an odd personal experience.
The pretty young lady standing next to Marsharita is a Rice student.
Her hometown is Monterrey, Mexico.
In addition to this
young lady, there were a dozen other Rice students working the party. I am not sure how much the other
guests noticed these students, but I watched them all carefully.
You see, back when I was their age eons ago, I did the same
thing as this young lady.
I was fortunate
to go to Johns Hopkins on a full scholarship. But all
that scholarship paid for was tuition. If I wanted to eat,
have a place to sleep and buy books, I needed to work.
And work I did.
I stacked books in the library, I supervised two different
reading rooms, and I worked at the Alumni Department
helping to prepare for the important phonathon fundraisers. I also
worked as a waiter at Alumni gatherings just like this young
At one point in
the Reception, I pulled her aside and said there was
something I wanted to tell her. I told her that back when I was
her age, I
set a school record for work-study hours.
I told her that
no matter how tough it was to work and find time to study,
it was all worth it. I told her to be patient. This was her
time to serve, but someday she would begin her career and
her talents would shine. The girl smiled and
then to my surprise began to cry a little.
As she wiped her
tears away, she whispered that coming to Rice was the
luckiest thing that ever happened to her. She said if
I only knew how hard things were in the place where she had
Now she really
appreciated knowing that it had worked out for me and that I
believed it would work out for her too. I had sent her
a "hang in there" message that greatly encouraged her.
In addition to the great
DJ music played by Mitch, we were treated to the live music of the
These guys play a lot of
Sixties R&B. That is the perfect music for Whip and West
Coast. This is my kind of music.
I don't know what I did
to deserve the cosmic pleasure of having this great dance floor and
great dance band at the same time, but I took advantage.
Marla and I danced to
practically every song they played. We could barely move the
next day, but you know what? It was worth it. It was
wonderful to dance the night away to such a fun dance band.
Thank you, Ed. Thank you, Tracy. Thank you, Geezers.
Will you pass the
Tylenol, Marla Darling?
As you can see, I wasn't
the only one who magically thought we were young again. The
whole crowd danced like they were kids.
There's a story here.
That's Marla going underneath doing the Limbo. Marla told me later that when they
discovered she wasn't struggling like everyone else, someone shouted, "Marla's too
good. Everybody lower your arms!!"
When I saw this picture,
I discovered it was Mona and Vivian who gave Marla the raspberry.
They weren't about to let Marla have it easy.
When the Geezers played
the feminist fight anthem I will Survive, the women went nuts.
I am not exaggerating.
The girls displayed so much
energy and animation while dancing to that particular song, I got a
little nervous. I decided to stay back.
Judging by the Geezers'
expressions, they looked a little worried too. The girls might
survive, but would they?
This was EXACTLY the
kind of song that could make a girl snap.
A song like this brings
up unwelcome memories and bitterness. A man never knows when
he might become collateral damage if a girl goes postal.
At any given moment, some kicked on lied to treated
like dirt woman might go off and stampede like a wounded elephant.
Not that I have been mean to these ladies, but a stampeding elephant
doesn't always look before stomping. At these times, any man
So I stepped back and took my pictures
from a safe distance. Looking at these pictures in review, I
conclude I made a wise move.
All jokes aside, when it
comes to "I Will Survive", we all know no one in this room has
endured more heartache than Tracy. It was a thrill to see all
those women acknowledge Tracy's triumph over horrendous pain and
heartache. Some very deep wounds have been healed.
The Ring of Survivors
were excited when Ed joined his wife Tracy in the circle.
What a transcendent
moment it was to see Ed and Tracy celebrate together.
In its own way, this
moment was just as touching as the Wedding Ceremony itself.
It was great climax to a
I am going to
take a chance and talk about a sensitive topic.
Some of you reading this story may not know that long before
Tracy ever met Ed Akin, she was once married to
another man she met at SSQQ.
I am speaking of
Gary Schweinle, our beloved Mr. Hat. Marla and I had
the privilege of attending that wedding too. Marla and
I both loved Gary dearly. I am not ashamed to say I
still cry thinking about Gary.
Gary and Tracy
shared their honeymoon with all of us. They went on Marla's
August 2008 cruise to Italy. Along for ride were
Sherry, Jeannie, and Mary. Mary was nursing a loss of her
own and Tracy was helping her heal. Steve, Vivian, and
Marsha were also at Gary and Tracy's table.
They all shared so much laughter together. It was a
struck. One short
month later in September 2008, Tracy lost Gary in a freak
accident during Hurricane Ike. Gary was electrocuted
while trying to fix a problem on a metal roof. Tracy
had just lost her husband of two months. The pain was
Filled with grief, Tracy was sent
reeling. Fortunately Tracy had friends like Jeannie (pictured), Sherry, Mary,
and many others to watch over her. Tracy's friends enveloped her in a
protective pocket. Many of the women in tonight's Ring of
Survivors were the ones who helped Tracy carry on. They kept Tracy alive and
functioning when the pain was so unbearable.
Back then, the
men tried to help too. A perfect example was
Leroy Ginzel. Like me, Leroy loved Tracy and Gary.
After the tragedy, one day Leroy came out to Gary & Tracy's
home. He worked tirelessly with his chainsaw cutting up
the dense wood that had fallen in the hurricane. Leroy was in
his 70s and had a heart condition. Nevertheless, Leroy
would not stop even though we begged him to. Leroy was an
inspiration to me that day. Leroy had only one thought - he
wanted to contribute something to lessen Tracy's pain.
A lot of us who
were at the Reception remember those terrible days because
we all shared in the tragedy. That was four long years ago.
Tonight we participated in a rebirth. We saw a return
to happiness for someone who deserved this second chance as
anyone in the whole world.
And what did
Tracy do all night? She went around hugging people.
She went from one person to the next thanking them for
making this such a special night. And I am sure she
thanked them for more than just that.
these people for giving her the strength to carry on so that
someday she would be able to experience tonight's blessing
Of course that blessing
was Tracy's marriage to Ed Akin, the man who restored the joy in her
These two people were so
classy together. I could not help but nod in total
appreciation. Tracy and Ed fit together like a velvet glove.
Ed and Tracy took the
time to thank us all for coming. It just another classy
gesture in a night that featured a long line of classy gestures.
All I could think of was
that this night was one of the most powerful emotional experiences I
have ever encountered.
These two people reached
out and gathered a huge group of people and shared their enormous
warmth with us.
I am proud to have been
given the chance to
participate in one of the great Lovefests of my life. I have never felt closer to this
tight-knit group of
Thank you, Ed.
Thank you, Tracy. Thank you not just from me, but from every
person who shared in the evening.
The two of you gave the
party of a lifetime. While you were in the process of becoming
one, you helped bring us all closer together in so many wonderful
ways. You are quite a couple and we are quite a family.
Regarding Tracy and Ed
Akin's February Wedding
Rick's Note: The story of Tracy Akin is well known to
all SSQQ insiders, but there are probably a lot of newcomers to the
dance community who don't know the details.
Tracy is the woman who fell in love with Gary Schweinle, a
rough-hewn cowboy with a heart of gold, back around 2007 over at my
old studio, SSQQ-Bissonnet.
Their July 2008 Wedding brought tears of joy to all the many
friends of this couple.
One month later, Marla and I watched with great satisfaction
as Gary and Tracy embarked on their honeymoon on our 2008 Cruise to
Rome. This was the happiest couple we had ever seen.
One month later, Gary was dead. We were
absolutely shocked out of our minds.
The poor man was electrocuted in a freak accident. As the whipping
winds of Hurricane Ike approached in September, Gary climbed on his
metal roof to better secure loose metal strips.
His electric drill drove in a screw that nicked a utility line. That
electrified the roof and electrocuted Gary when he grabbed an
antenna to steady himself in a gust of wind.
Tracy was downstairs. She heard a horrible shriek from above
followed by a thud on the ground. She ran in horror to Gary's body.
Despite her medical training, Tracy was helpless to do anything.
Gary died in her arms.
To this day, Gary's death remains the greatest tragedy in the
history of our SSQQ Community.
I have to say that Tracy's friends at SSQQ basically kept her going.
Without them, Tracy's descent to the abyss would have been complete.
Even with their help, the pain this poor woman suffered was nearly
Slowly but surely, Tracy was able to pull her life back together.
Then, as if by miracle, a couple years after the tragedy, Tracy
found a new love. Ed Akin was a handsome, kind, intelligent Rice
professor. Every single one of Tracy's friends were thrilled for
her. Tracy had been given a second chance at happiness.
Ed and Tracy were married in a lovely ceremony over at Rice
University back in February. I wrote a story about the event (Ed and
Tracy's Wedding) that captured the warmth and respect we all feel
for both Ed and Tracy.
In the story, I took the risk of mentioning our fondness for Gary as
well. This was potentially a very painful subject, but I have always
loved Gary and wanted very much to say his name again because he was
such a wonderful guy. There is no way around it. As we approach the
four year mark of the 11 September 2008 tragedy, any mention of Gary
still brings pain to many hearts even to this day.
Shortly after I published my story, Tracy wrote me a beautiful
letter thanking me. Not only did she support my inclusion of Gary
into the story, she also took the time to explain why her "guest
list" had excluded so many dear friends.
I loved the letter so much that I wanted to publish it… but did not
dare do so without asking Tracy's permission first. I never heard
back from her. I assumed her lack of reply meant 'no', so I didn't
bring the subject up again.
Then out of the blue, a couple days ago I got a letter from Tracy.
Read for yourself.
Of Course You Can Print my Letter!!
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2012 10:40 PM
To: Rick Archer
Subject: Re: Wedding write-up
Oh my gosh Rick…..I am soooooo sorry I
didn't see your request to publish my letter till today!
We got a new computer the end of March, and I thought all my
emails were lost, and here they are! I just found them
tonight….all 1700 of them, so I was going thru and deleting
stuff….and I came across your email. I am totally trying to
learn a Mac….and I have only used to Windows…so I feel like I am
a blooming idiot!
Of course you can share my letter! Anything that I write to you
I consider public domain, unless I tell you otherwise….….but I
don't mind if you don't.
Since it's so long after the wedding….We could say I was happy
to have reached my 6 month wedding anniversary, and was writing
to you now. I was very anxious about anniversaries with Ed. When
Ed and I had our 2nd month anniversary, I told Ed, that we had
made it as far as Gary and I had, and he looked really
shocked….and said…."that really puts things in perspective. That
was too short a time to have been married, and then to lose him
He (Ed) really gets me, and totally understands how hard that
time was for me. But I am still able to enjoy each month's
anniversary with him…..and he gets that too! We just celebrated
Ed won't mind anything that I have written. You may use any or
all of it as you see fit. I trust you and Marla, and always
will. I know who my friends are, and you two are at the top of
my list. I just wish I had seen your request earlier.
I don't think it's too late, and yes, if it will help all those
people that didn't get an invite to understand … hopefully… I
think it's a good idea. Plus, if you don't feel it's too
late….it might help anyone in the future to make sure they get
their wedding reception papers back quick, so they don't have to
go thru what we went thru! Ha.
Again, I am so sorry I didn't see this. If that happens
again….just call me! You must have thought I was such a dolt not
replying back. If you want to write anything concerning this and
that email, go ahead! I am sure that you will do a splendid
With much love, Tracy
P.S. By the way….the crazy lawsuit against me by Gary's girls
has been postponed until December.
Can you believe it?? We will keep you
Rick's Note: Now that I officially have permission, I would
like to share the lovely letter Tracy wrote after her wedding and
honeymoon from six months ago. I think you will enjoy it; it is a
very interesting story.
In fact, Tracy's story is so crazy, it reminds me of my own wedding
fiasco back in 2004. I am glad to see I am not the only one who has
to suffer the 12 Labors of Hercules just to get married.
Tracy's Thank you note
From: Tracy Akin
Sent: Friday, March 23, 2012 4:42 PM
Subject: Wedding write-up
Dear Marla and Rick,
Thank you so very much for the absolutely splendid write-up
about our wedding. Wow!!!!
I was so blown away by all the pictures, and the wonderful
story! Ed and I were able to share them with our families, even
before we got the wedding pictures back!
You might have noticed that our only family members in
attendance were our kids. My sisters all have kids in
school.....so it was hard for them to try and schedule a wedding
right before spring break.
Ed's family was having surgery, and planning for their own
children's weddings....so it was so nice to be able to share our
day with them, thru your newsletter. My family said they were so
impressed with the story that went with the pictures. They love
the way Rick writes, and even teased me a little saying that "I
sounded like a SSQQ celebrity" :-)
I don't know if you heard....but this wedding almost didn't
happen. (well, I mean we were always going to get married....but
we had a major snag close to the date.) On the Friday before
Christmas, at about 12:30 pm, Ed called to tell me that "he had
bad news". Turns out the place we had scheduled our
wedding/reception had been overbooked!!!!
Ed explained the owner had acknowledged his mistake, and had
called the other party, and their response was that they had
already sent out invitations. We were just about to send out
ours...and since he knew we hadn't sent out ours....he said he
was giving it to the second party. Talk about ruining your
When we protested, the gentleman quit taking Ed's phone calls,
and then stopped taking Ed's lawyers calls. Since he
acknowledged that it was his mistake, we were trying everything
from re-booking, to perhaps changing to a day before or
after....but by then the communication was broken down...and now
it is January 3rd. My son was not able to change his orders for
any other time but what we had planned....and those of you who
have someone in the military know, you don't get orders changed.
So we were getting married that Saturday come hell or high
water, but the ceremony might have to be in a tent in my back
Our lawyer gave us the go ahead to find another venue. I was
very worried....what if this guy said at the last
minute....okay, you can have your event here....what kind of
service would we get since we forced his hand? Then on the other
hand, I am thinking....where are we going to find another
location for a wedding in 5 weeks, and on Valentine's day
weekend at that?! Then, to add insult to injury, I lost my
florist, as her mother died, and she was going back to the
Philippines and probably wouldn't return for a few weeks.
We called, and called, all sorts of places....with no luck. Ed
went back to one of our original sites....the Rice faculty
club...At the time we were doing all the planning, it was
already booked. A miracle happened - the faculty club at Rice
had a cancellation!
What a relief.....now to find a florist. I called everywhere,
and was turned down because it was Valentine's Day
weekend....and they couldn't possibly fit it in. Sooooo, I
decided to go to the florist by my house that had already turned
me down....and plead my case. Luckily, when I walked in there,
the owner was there, took pity on me, and agreed to do the
wedding. That was 2 weeks before the wedding.
Now, the third and final problem. The venue we were getting was
half the size of the original site. That meant we had to cut the
guest list in half! To me, that was the biggest, most egregious
last straw ever!!!
I agonized for days and nights whom to invite, and who we would
reluctantly leave off the list. This was the most horrible thing
in the world for me to do, because all of the SSQQ people are
family to me! We finally decided, to be fair, that we would each
make a list of people, then compare lists, and the people who
were on both of our lists would be invited. I was at a distinct
disadvantage, because I know a lot more SSQQ people than Ed
does. I think that some people were very hurt that they couldn't
I heard that everyone was buzzing about the wedding, and then
finding out that they weren't invited, when others were. I just
hope and pray that the ones that were not, do not feel slighted,
and understand what we were dealing with at the time.
That's why I was so glad to see all the pictures, and the great
write up. That fact it was in the news letter made it even
better. Everyone that couldn't be there, could read about it,
and almost feel like they were there.
Everything turned out fine. Even though there were major hassles
before the wedding, the actual day turned out perfect. I
wouldn't have changed a thing about that day.....except maybe I
should have fed my daughter a little better before the ceremony.
Rick, I loved your whole story....every bit of it! So did Ed!!!
I was glad that you weren't afraid to address my SSQQ history in
the story, and mention my "Mr. Hat" Gary. Looking back at that
horrible time in my life, I realize the reason I made it thru,
was because of my SSQQ family. Gary knew I would be alright
because of all the wonderful people that were our friends, and
still are my friends, and now friends of Ed's as well. We all
Gary touched so many lives. It wouldn't be right if we didn't
mention him. Because of Gary's love, I knew that he would be
pleased with all of us, for moving forward, towards happiness
again. Gary always was saying...."life is for the living."
Gary would be thankful that there are so many people to help me
pick up the pieces...and move on. He would be very pleased with
my new husband. Remember, he always called you and Marla the
"Godfather and Godmother" of the SSQQ family. He would have been
very pleased with all the love and laughter we shared with "our
family" at the wedding. And he would be very pleased about the
write up about Ed's and mine wedding.
I don't know if Ed and I can say enough about the wonderful
story other than…
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Ed and I are looking forward to many more years of fun with our
"Godparent's" and dancing family. You guys are the Best!!!!
Ed and Tracy