Lorraine Beatty and Roland "Mac" McKitrick, here about a year and a half ago, plan to wed - perhaps today. She is holding a photo of the pair taken when they were in the third grade.
COURTESY OF ROLAND MCKITRICK
Roland "Mac" McKitrick proposed to his beloved Lorraine Beatty on Wednesday morning.
The proposal took Beatty completely by surprise.
"He said he would like to talk to me," she said, "and very sweetly he said, 'I'm asking you to marry me.'"
A few hours later, the couple picked up their marriage license at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. And as soon as McKitrick's pastor can accommodate them, they'll be married. In fact, by the time you read this, the twosome may have already tied the knot.
But don't let their spur-of-the-moment wedding fool you. McKitrick and Beatty's courtship is hardly the whirlwind affair it appears to be.
In fact, the romance between the 93-year-old McKitrick and the 92-year-old Beatty began more than 80 years ago, in a one-room schoolhouse in rural Wisconsin.
"She was my third-grade sweetheart back in 1921," McKitrick said. "We knew each other for about one year. Then, for all practical purposes, we lost contact for 85 years."
During the intervening decades, they each married and had children. Both were widowed when fate brought them together again several years ago.
At the time, McKitrick and Beatty each had brothers who lived in Connecticut. The brothers knew each other, said McKitrick, who wasn't sure how their siblings became acquainted. About three years ago, McKitrick's brother received a card from Beatty addressed to Roland in care of his brother. It contained a snapshot of the couple as children.
McKitrick asked his brother to forward the card, but it never arrived. After a few months, McKitrick called his brother, who put him in touch with Beatty's brother. McKitrick called and asked for Beatty's number.
"He told me he didn't have it handy," McKitrick said.
An hour later, the phone rang.
"It was Lorraine," McKitrick said.
The two resumed their romance, dividing their time between Beatty's home in Georgia and McKitrick's home in an Arlington Heights retirement community, where the couple plan to reside after they return from their honeymoon at McKitrick's Wisconsin lake home.
Their kids don't know about the nuptials, but Beatty doubts the news will surprise her 64-year-old son and 58-year-old daughter. McKitrick says his children will be "very pleased."
"He's very loving, sweet-natured and generous," Beatty said of her husband-to-be.
For McKitrick, marrying Beatty marks the culmination of a lifelong love story.
He recalls a day, many years ago, when the two of them stood in the Wisconsin sunshine and talked about how one day, they would marry each other.
"I still picture her as my third-grade sweetheart. I've carried that in the back of my mind since that time," said McKitrick, who counts among his prized possessions a photograph taken of the two of them about that time.
"That snapshot stayed in my memory," he said, "and her face stayed in my memory."