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A Valentine’s Day Wedding

This love story starts with a note taped to a door, signed only: “Your Secret Admirer.”

February 2023

All Photos Courtesy of Tammy Moore-Edwards.

by Laura Emery, Deputy Editor

This love story starts with a note taped to a door, signed only: “Your Secret Admirer.”

Gary Moore — who followed his family to Hopewell, Va., from Summerlee, W. Va. — was excited to know he had a secret admirer. He took the note to where he worked, at Prince Paving, and proudly showed the guys. Little did he know that his secret admirer was none other than his coworker’s sister, Shirley. She had moved to Virginia from Bulls Gap, Tenn., to be near her family.  Gary would occasionally drive her brother home from work, and that’s how the two met.

Shirley eventually confessed to authoring the mysterious love note, and the two went on their first date.

What followed next was a lot of dancing, exchanging of handwritten love notes and, most importantly, many hours laughing together. Soon, two hearts merged into one.

Shirley and Gary decided to get married on the quintessential day for love: Valentine’s Day, in 1986.

But this love story had a little unexpected bump in the road.

On the day of his wedding, snow blanketed the ground. Gary still had to work that day, and as he was driving home to prepare for his big day, his car lost traction and slid off the road. While his excited bride primped herself and waited to marry the man of her dreams, Gary found himself desperately trying to get to his bride.

He found a payphone, had his car towed and arrived two hours late to the wedding ceremony. Despite the hiccup, the two were married that snowy Valentine’s Day in 1986.

They created a beautiful family together, raising four sons and three daughters.

Gary’s love for his wife was often displayed in the gift of a single red rose. No special occasion needed. Over the years, he brought many single red roses to the woman he adored.

In 2016, Gary died from a heart attack at the age of 65.

Valentine’s Day hasn’t been the same since for Shirley.

“It’s been a hard six years,” their daughter, Tammy Moore-Edwards, wrote to us last month in a heartfelt letter. “Lots of late-night phone calls just to talk about my dad and then cry together. I had the best parents.” Tammy and her family, as well as her mother, live in Dewitt, Va., and are members of Southside Electric Cooperative.

With a single red rose in hand, Tammy shows up at her mother’s house on Valentine’s Day. She even makes her mom’s favorite meal: ribeye steak, baked potatoes and green beans.

“After my dad passed, my mom shared a lot of stories with me. My mom told me that on one date, they went to see a drive-in movie. He reclined his seat to get comfortable, but when he raised it back up he did not know he had laid his hair in the ashtray… which was full of ashes and bubblegum. My mom said she laughed and laughed. The remainder of the date was spent helping him get gum out of his hair,” Tammy says.

The couple also enjoyed going out and dancing together. Only, Tammy says, with a laugh, her father was an “awful dancer.” “Those were my mother’s exact words,” she says. “He dances like he’s boxing. But that’s what my mother loved about him … his goofy self. He made her laugh all the time.”

It’s those moments that Tammy says she wants her mother to remember fondly on Valentine’s Day.

Which is why she decided to write Cooperative Living magazine and share her mother’s love story.

“I read Cooperative Living magazine every month, and so does my mom, Shirley Moore. She loves everything in it … but especially the reader recipes, the Say Cheese pictures and captions, and entering the Whatzit contest,” she wrote. And even though Shirley has never won the Whatzit contest, that doesn’t stop her from entering again the next month, Tammy shared. She and her mother also enjoy participating in the magazine’s holiday Facebook Live events.

Tammy says, “I know it will probably make her cry a little, but it would mean so much to her … and to me.”

Happy 37th Wedding Anniversary, Shirley Moore, from your friends at Cooperative Living magazine!
We appreciate your loyal readership!