The quest for love: A hometown love story

By April Young
Resident Community News

“Those that go searching for love, only manifest their own lovelessness. And the loveless never find love, only the loving find love. And they never have to seek for it.” – D. H. Lawrence
Many of us have heard the old English adage, “Good things come to those who wait” and several times that phrase is advised to those who are in the hunt for The One.  But sometimes true love is the result of happenstance; one stumbles upon love when it is least expected. These are the tales and mystery of circumstances and coincidence that make up the best of love stories.
We begin this story in the late 1940s at Lake Shore Middle School in Jacksonville. That’s where Gene Harvey and Trudy Ralston (nee Foyt) were both attending school when he gave her a ride on his bicycle handlebars one afternoon. They were active in the Glee Club; Gene served as the president and Trudy, an officer. The two classmates continued to know each other as teenagers and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in the class of 1953.
Life then carried them on in different paths and they went on to marry their spouses – and to start their own families. Gene and Trudy both enjoyed their separate lives with their own children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. But after many decades of married life, both Trudy and Gene experienced loss in the passing of their spouses.
It was in 2010 when the sliding doors shifted and opened a conversation between Trudy and Pam Howard, owner of The Village Ladybug, in the Historic Ortega Village.  Pam was having a sidewalk sale on Corinthian Avenue when she met Trudy.  It was with the realization that Pam was Gene Harvey’s daughter, that Trudy kindly asked Pam to tell her father and old classmate hello, for it had been many years since she had seen him.
Within a short timeframe, Gene returned to Jacksonville from a vacation in North Carolina and heard about the exchange. He called Trudy up to ask her out on a date.
Friendship developed into a romantic relationship. After a two-year courtship, Gene proposed to Trudy while dining at The Florida Yacht Club.
Family and close friends – including Gene’s children and their spouses, Pam Howard and Mark Harvey, and Trudy’s two sons Bert and Foyt Ralston with their wives and children – joined the couple on Oct. 6 for their wedding.
Pam and Paul Howard, at their home in Confederate Point, hosted the rehearsal dinner. Gardner’s Florist of Ortega provided floral arrangements. Frazier’s Jewelers custom designed both wedding rings from a combination of inherited pieces and family heirlooms. The wedding ceremony took place at Faith Lutheran Church. A reception followed with family and friends at The Florida Yacht Club.
The couple honeymooned at The Greystone Inn in North Carolina and will reside at their home in Ortega.
As we hear stories such as the one between Trudy and Gene, both now 76, we are reminded by the Apostle Paul’s words in Corinthians that love is patient, after all. One can continuously search for love, but never find it. One can find love over and over again throughout one lifetime. But what Mr. Lawrence observed is that if we keep our hearts open by the act of selflessly loving others, we may discover the possibility that love will find its way to us through an old hello.

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