Thursday wasn't the first time Tom Wolcott and Diana Hamrick tied the knot.
But Thursday had a special significance to the Portage County natives because it marked the 35th anniversary of the end of their first short-lived marriage. They marked the day with a ceremony on the Portage County Courthouse lawn, with the bride wearing the same white gown she wore at their first wedding almost 36 years ago.
The couple, who moved to southern climates in their years apart, reconnected recently after both returned to Portage County for family commitments.
Tom Wolcott said he met his bride in the late 1970s while both were working in the press room of the Record-Courier, which then printed the newspaper in Ravenna.
They were married June 23, 1977. The groom was 20 and the bride was 19.
"She was my first love," he said.
The couple blames youth and "stupidity" for their split the following March.
"We lived together and we worked together," he said. "That's hard for a couple of young kids."
Tom moved to Florida, where he'd spend most of the next 30 years. Diana moved to South Carolina, where she'd spend the next 25 years. She would remarry, but he never did, and neither parented any children.
Then one day, Diana tracked her ex-husband down, placing a call to Wolcott Carpet & Flooring in Ravenna Township, where Tom worked with his brother, Dan.
"I wanted to apologize for how I'd treated him all those years ago," she said. "I had no idea he would even want me back."
At first they had a hard time connecting -- Dan initially forgot to give his brother the message -- but they talked on the phone several times over the next five months. Then in October, they met in person.
"And it was like the last 35 years never happened," Diana said.
She asked Tom if he'd take her back if she moved back to Ohio.
"I'd marry you tomorrow," he replied.
The Rev. Scott Hindel of Community Bible Church in Rootstown performed the ceremony.
The wedding party included three original members -- Paula Sue Barthol, sister of the bride; Dan Wolcott, brother of the groom, and Cary Thompson, a family friend who worked with the couple at the Record-Courier. The bride's mother had saved photos from the original wedding and the cake topper from the first wedding cake. After the couple remarked that the old photos had darkened, a family member joked, "It was a dark day."
The couple looks forward to brighter days ahead. After spending a few months living in Rootstown with family, they plan to move to Florida, where another Wolcott brother lives.
"We're going to spend some time with family before we move out of state," the bride said.
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