Local couple tie the knot on Veterans Day at Veterans Memorial Park
Larry Gaddie didn’t hesitate too much when his fiancee, Deb Deziel, brought up the idea of a wedding at the Veterans Memorial Park on Veterans Day earlier this year.
“She said the vets park would be a cool place to get married,” he recalled.
As a Vietnam veteran, he was inclined to agree, he said. He had watched the steady progress -- installation of the Wall of Honor, the obelisks representing branches of the U.S. military, the shelters and visitor center -- at the park in the past seven months.
“The park came a long way this past summer,” said Gaddie, crediting favorable weather.
“We’d been talking about getting married,” said Deziel, adding her beloved OK'd the Veterans Day wedding at the Veterans Memorial Park the day after she mentioned it.
The couple, who live in East Grand Forks, have been together for 14 years.
“It’s time to get married. I’m 71, and she’s 61 -- I’m robbing the cradle,” Gaddie said with a laugh.
Originally, the couple thought about marrying at 11 a.m. Veterans Day -- to coincide with the official end of World War I on the 11th month, 11th day and 11th hour -- but decided to delay a couple hours when they heard a small military-themed event was already planned for that time.
“That was OK,” Deziel said.
“We didn’t want a big deal,” Gaddie said.
As the wedding day approached, when some of his buddies asked if they could attend, “I told them, it’s a public park; how can I tell you not to come?” he said. “It’s not going to be a high mass, put it that way.”
At Wednesday’s brief ceremony, Darrin Looker, an ordained minister and one of Gaddie’s co-workers at Black Gold Farms, officiated. Two of Deziel’s adult children, Kyle Deziel and Kaylie Deziel, both of Grand Forks, served as witnesses.
After the “I do” was declared by the bride and groom and the rings were properly placed, the couple’s first kiss as husband and wife was planted, and the small gathering of family and friends applauded.
“It was simple and to the point -- nothing too extravagant,” Gaddie said with a big grin.
“Just what you asked for,” Looker, the minister, said.
Asked how she felt now, as a married lady, Deziel paused and said: “I think I was married the first time I saw him.”
She met Gaddie at a St. Patrick’s Day Party at a local establishment, she said.
“He knew who I was,” because he’d helped his father deliver water to her family’s farm and said he remembered seeing her run around there as a 10-year-old.
“That kind of scared me,” she said.
She ended up giving him a matchbook with her name and number on the inside cover.
“He looked down at it and back up, and we’ve been together ever since. He’s awesome. ... And he takes care of me," she said.“With him, there’s never a dull moment."
It’s fitting that the couple was married at the Veterans Memorial Park. Gaddie’s ties to the park, and what it stands for, run deep.
As president of the Red River Valley Motorcyclists, he is part of the group’s extraordinarily successful effort to raise funds for the park’s development.
Diane Knauf, a friend and high school classmate, said the Red River Valley Motorcyclists organization, for which she serves as secretary, is a huge benefactor of the park.
"We are forever indebted to that group," she said.
Members are nearing a $100,000 fundraising goal, and “we’re selling tickets now for bikes we’re giving away in May,” Gaddie said.
When the goal is attained, one of the park’s shelters will be named for the club.
The motorcyclists also raise funds for the police memorial that is planned for south Grand Forks and for the Veterans Honor Flight of North Dakota and Minnesota organization.
“Veterans are a soft spot in my heart,” Gaddie said.
A 1967 graduate of East Grand Forks Senior High School, Gaddie was drafted into the U.S. Army in March 1969. After basic training and advanced infantry training at Fort Lewis in Washington state, he was shipped to Vietnam in September of that year.
About his service in the war, he said: “I saw the wrath of it. There were some good days and some really bad days. War is hell, as they say. I wouldn’t want anybody to go through it, but I’d do it again -- for the country.”
The bond between veterans “is a brotherhood, I guess,” he said.
On Wednesday, the bond between husband and wife was sealed.
After the wedding, the new Mrs. Gaddie said: "When we go back home, nothing's going to change."
Though now that they're married, she proclaimed: "He's mine -- and no one can take him."