Buffalo, Mo., couple marries for the first time, again, due to marriage license blunder

Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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BUFFALO, Mo. (KY3) - They thought they got married in 1984, but four decades later, neither they nor the state where they held the service had any record of it.

So what do you do? Get married again.

Colonial Springs is a healthcare, rehab, and senior living facility run by Citizens Memorial Hospital in Buffalo, Missouri.

“We typically are not in the wedding planner business,” said Cindy Cain, the facility’s administrator.

But sure enough, that’s exactly what was going on Thursday as Colonial Springs hosted the nuptials for John and Margret Davidson, who met back in 1983 over a CB radio when both were truck drivers.

“My co-driver woke me up and said it was my turn to drive,” Margret recalled. “He also told me he was running with this other driver who was sleepy and wanted me to talk to him to keep him awake. He had no idea I was female because, back then, there were very few lady drivers out there. I said I would if he was “decent,” and my co-driver said he seemed to be and had been talking with him for a long time.”

So the two trucks stopped at a truck stop, and the rest, as they say, was history.

“I went in and threw some water on my face,” Margret said. “And when I came out to the table where he was, I just stopped dead in my tracks and said, ‘God, if this one’s not taken, he’s mine!’ And he’s not too bad as a shack-up, ‘ya know, for 40 years.”

The two married in April of 1984 in Clay County, Arkansas.

“Or thought we did anyway,” John said with a shrug.

The validity of the marriage was never challenged for almost four decades until Margaret came to the rehab center after colon cancer surgery.

“I’m cancer-free now,” she pointed out.

But, as part of her Medicaid paperwork, she needed her marriage license.

“Well shoot,” John said in frustration. “That marriage license had been moved around a dozen times since we got married. We knew we had it. Couldn’t find it.”

And when they asked for the records at county and state governments in Arkansas, they were met with worse news.

“We contacted Clay County, and they showed no record of it,” John explained. “They called the state of Arkansas down in Little Rock, and they said, ‘We don’t show any indication that you’ve ever been registered in Arkansas,” John said. “So here we sit. We have to tie the knot again.”

That’s when the nursing facility came in to help.

“We have several ministers that come to our facility on a regular basis, and Margret picked the one she wanted to perform the ceremony,” Cain said. “They assisted with helping to get the marriage license, and then with the help of CMH, we were able to connect with the community and get some decorations.”

Colonial Springs also organized a reception with cake after the wedding vows were exchanged, as all the senior living tenants were invited to come and celebrate the special occasion.

“We not only care about the physical aspects of our residents but the psychosocial well-being of them too,” Cain pointed out. “Everybody was really excited when I walked through last night with the flowers. It really piqued their interest. And they were all interested in being able to take a little souvenir back to their room.”

Cain did mention that not all the traditional wedding rituals were observed at the reception.

“No rice throwing,” she said. “Nothing that could potentially cause a slip or fall.”

Meanwhile, the newlyweds (who aren’t truly newlyweds) have taken some good-natured ribbing along the way.

“They’ll say things like, ‘Hey, do you realize you’ve been living in sin for the last 40 years?’” Margret said. “And I said, ‘Yes. And it’s been a lot of fun.’”

That speaks well for two people who also spent seven years working for the same trucking company as co-drivers 24 hours a day in the same cab side-by-side.

“If you can survive that, you can survive anything,” John said.

And even though there’s no record that the couple was actually married for the past four decades, they claim the paper doesn’t matter.

“I’m not giving up those 40 years,” Margret said with a scowl. “I had to go through‘em. We’re going to keep ‘em. I wouldn’t trade him.”

“Well, I don’t think I would trade her,” John said with a sly grin. “It all depends on what they’d trade for.”

With that, he got an evil eye from his wife.

“Uh oh, I’m in trouble,” he muttered.

Later at the ceremony, when John was told he could kiss the bride, Margret gave him a handshake.

Then, finally, a kiss.

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