It was a wonderful surprise that started with the words, “Save the evening” written on the Fulton family calender.

And it ended with a re-proposal — complete with a new engagement ring — a newfound love for the Ottawa community and a “perfect” trip down memory lane for Beverly and Rick Fulton’s 35th anniversary, Beverly Fulton said.

“We’ve been back a couple of times, but not like this,” she said. “It was just kind of rediscovering that time in our lives. ... It was very romantic and very sweet, and Ottawa was the connection for us. That was the piece. It was just a perfect weekend.”

 

‘Meant to be’

Rick Fulton and the former Beverly Bundy, now Manhattan residents, literally grew up just down the street from each other in Ottawa.

Oddly enough, the two always lived less than one block apart during their youth.

“My family lived at Ninth and Hickory, and his family lived at Ninth and Main,” she said. “Then when we moved, his family lived at 13th and Maple, and we were at 14th and Maple. It’s almost like it was meant to be.”

Although the two attended different high schools, they did have a civics class together in junior high.

“I was outgoing, and he was shy,” Fulton said. “I don’t think anybody would have guessed then that we would have ever been together.”

Rick Fulton said the same about Beverly.

“She was a very pleasant person,” he said. “Never assumed we’d end up married.”

The two lost touch until the summer before their senior year of college. At that time, he was at Kansas State University, and she attended Ottawa University. However, their parents still lived a block away from each other.

One summery day, Rick Fulton showed up at his future in-laws’ house, knocking on the door, requesting their signature on a petition he was putting together.

“I really wasn’t in the mood when I answered the door, so we didn’t talk a lot then, but I went in and told my mom, ‘I remember him,’” Beverly Fulton said.

Rick Fulton laughed, remembering that day.

“She shut the door in my face, and she wouldn’t sign the petition,” he said.

A few days later, the two unexpectedly met up at the local country club. He was teaching golf lessons, and she was there with her family.

“I said, ‘You can ask me out,’ and so we did,” Beverly Fulton said.

After that, the couple enjoyed a wonderful summer romance, which ended in them each going separate ways — him on a trip to Canada, and her back to school.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said, recalling her first few days of solitude. “That’s when I knew I was in love. I missed him so terribly.”

After that, the two continued a long-distance relationship, frequently calling, writing and visiting each other, during their final year of college.

He proposed June 14 — a year after the two started dating — at a secluded, romantic spot at Pomona Lake.

“It was a place we used to go and take picnics,” she said.

The two were married March 25, 1978, in a traditional wedding ceremony at the Ottawa University Chapel.

The couple lived for a time in Kansas City and made their home in Manhattan.

They hadn’t been back to visit Ottawa much — that is, until last weekend.

 

‘A wonderful time’

Several weeks ago, Rick Fulton told his wife not to plan anything for the weekend of March 8-9.

“He didn’t tell me anything about it, just to leave those nights open,” she said.

She assumed they’d be going to Kansas City, as the two had theater tickets for that Saturday.

“He kept telling me, ‘It’s no big deal. It’s no big deal,’” she recalled.

They made a last-minute decision to leave earlier — on Friday instead of Saturday — and it wasn’t until they started driving when she realized where they were going.

“We got to Topeka, and he turned to go south, and then I asked him if we were going to Ottawa. And he said, ‘Yes,’” she said.

But before they got in town, he had one important stop to make.

“When we were driving down, he stopped at Pomona. I asked him where he was going, and he said he just wanted to look at the lake again,” she said.

He stopped when he was near the place he’d originally proposed.

“He said, ‘Would you do it again?’ And I said, ‘Yes, of course.’ And he pulled a jeweler’s box out of his pocket that I can’t believe I missed and gave me a beautiful diamond ring,” Beverly Fulton said.

After that, the two enjoyed a re-enactment of their first date — dinner at Pizza Hut, 2314 S. Princeton St., and a movie at the local theater.

Ironically, the movie they’d seen on their first date was “The Great Gatsby,” Beverly Fulton said, and her husband was hoping the new version of the movie, which is set to be released in May, would be out in time for them to see it on their anniversary. Fulton said they plan to make a trip back then to see it at the Plaza Grill and Cinema, 209 S. Main St.

Instead, they saw “Safe Haven.”

The Fultons stayed at a local motel and also visited other locations during their Ottawa getaway, including Pizza Village, 330 S. Main St., which was the location of Rick Fulton’s bachelor party, their old elementary schools and their former homes.

Rick Fulton, who secretly planned the trip, said Ottawa seemed the perfect place to go to recommit his love for his wife.

“We just haven’t been back for a long time, and it seemed like the place to go,” he said.

Beverly Fulton said the getaway could not have been better.

“We just had a wonderful time, and I just wanted the people of Ottawa to know how special Ottawa is,” she said.

‘No regrets’

The Fultons have spent the majority of their careers — him as a dentist and her as a kindergarten teacher — in Manhattan.

They have two children: a daughter, who is now married with two children of her own in Manhattan, and a son, who works as a charge nurse in Junction City.

Through the years, they’ve had to watch some of their friends’ marriages disintigrate, Fulton said, but their own love and commitment has remained strong.

“We both took our vows very seriously,” she said. “We tried to work through any differences we might have had. ... I’m sure that Rick’s patience and understanding has gotten us through a lot.”

Beverly Fulton said she most loves her husband’s “wonderful heart” and patient, quiet and loving personality.

“I loved his strength, loved his quiet demeanor,” she said. “He’s always treated me like I’m special and has always taken very good care of me and he’s been the best husband anyone could ask for.”

People have asked her several times, she said, what the secret is to a lasting marriage, to which she has no simple answer. But patience, staying connected and giving each other “breathing room” is important, she said.

Rick Fulton added that “respect, honesty and a little humor” goes a long way toward maintaining a long, healthy relationship.

“It’s been a great ride. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Beverly Fulton said. “I wouldn’t choose anything differently. No regrets.”