Ozark, Mo. woman surprised on 61st birthday by long-lost brother separated for almost 6 decades

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 6:31 PM CST
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - Kathy Noret is the administrative assistant for Gabe Meadows, the owner of 417 Powersports and several other businesses in Ozark.

“She handles all of my business affairs, my finances, the scheduling,” Meadows said. “She’s my work mom for sure.”

So on Wednesday Gabe treated his “work mom” to lunch at Rosie Jo’s Cafe in Ozark on her 61st birthday with two of her friends as surprise guests.

But the biggest surprise was still to come as Gabe had arranged for Kathy’s long-lost brother Mark Morse to come from Florida and reunite with his sister after 58 years apart when they were two and three years old respectively.

Mark had only reconnected with his younger sister in the last month through Facebook after searching for her since 1993.

And as he walked through that restaurant door?

“I was anxious, nervous,” he admitted.

“Talking to Mark this morning I was at one point afraid that he was going to back out,” Meadows said.

But when the surprise moment arrived the two meshed together like biscuits and gravy.

Mark came up behind Kathy, who was sitting at a table with her back to him, and said, “I hear somebody’s looking for her older brother.”

Kathy jumped up, turned around, and embraced Mark in a big bear hug.

“My heart dropped into my stomach and I was wondering what in the world,” Kathy said of her reaction. “That’s why I jumped up so quickly. My second thought was could this really be?”

“I never thought this day would come,” Mark added.

Word quickly spread around the cafe about what was going on as this new family sat down at a table together and started to get acquainted.

“We both like hunting and fishing,” Kathy said of finding common ground.

And at their very first meal together?

“What did you order?” Kathy asked Mark.

“I ordered chili,” Mark replied.

“I did too,” Kathy laughed.

“We’re off to a good start,” Mark said.

While neither one knows exactly why their birth mom gave them up for adoption, they know she was young when she made the decision and it was Mark who tracked down the adoption papers in California.

The only problem was the information had been heavily redacted.

“They white-out everything and then photocopy it,” Mark explained. “But they missed my biological mother’s name once and if you held it up to the light you could see the name Sharon. That’s basically all I had to go with.”

Mark’s granddaughter though used the DNA service 23andMe to eventually find Kathy, whose original name was “Jacquelyn”.

Mark’s original name was “Ernest”.

Kathy admitted to being skeptical at first.

So what turned the tide?

“When some of the names and dates started matching up,” she said. “Our mother’s name and birth date. Our parents’ marriage date. Some of the information he gave me about my early years when I was given up for adoption.”

A sign at the restaurant put it all in perspective: “A grateful heart sees many blessings” and for these two grateful hearts there will hopefully be many blessings ahead.

“Never give up,” Meadows said of what the reunion represents. “If you want something bad enough you can find a way to make it happen. She’s the type of person that does good for everybody and absolutely wants nothing in return. So to be able to take care of those who take care of you makes this one of the best days of my life and hopefully their lives too.”

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