Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Features

March 16, 2014

Opposites attract

Rita and Ralph Harbaugh's marriage has stood the test of time

(Continued)

Once she arrived, there was another issue. There were thousands of soldiers there and Rita had no idea how she would ever find Ralph, especially since he didn’t know she was coming. She found a sergeant who tracked down Ralph as Rita waited in another room to surprise him.

She could hear Ralph’s voice in the other room saying, “Yes sergeant! Yes sergeant!” Ralph thought he was in trouble when the sergeant sent him to the room Rita was waiting in.

“He walked in the room and there I was,” Rita said. “We cried and we hugged.”

Ralph couldn’t believe his eyes. He had really missed Rita while he was at training, and there she was standing in front of him.

“That was really surprising,” Ralph said. “She had never done anything like that. It meant quite a bit.”

As they took a walk around the base, Rita told him she was sure she wanted to get married.

“I realized how much I missed him, and I never wanted to be without him ever again,” she said. “It was good we waited to get married. We needed time to grow up a little and mature. And it was good to spend a little time apart. It was painful, but it was good. If you miss each other so badly, you know you want to be together.”

While Ralph was back in Kokomo for a few weeks after training and before he was sent for four months to El Paso, Tex. for the Army, he gave Rita a ring.

“At least when he went to Texas, I had a ring on my finger and we were committed,” Rita said. “But it was still very hard. It was a long four months.”

Almost a year later, Ralph and Rita were married on April 20, 1963, at First Baptist Church in Kokomo when she was 20 and he was 21.

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