Tale of love spans generations

By Rachel Thompson | Feb 14, 2013
Donated photo Hazel and Wilma together as teens.

Sometimes love can last a lifetime, but even more special is the kind of love that spans generations.

Such is the story that begins with two friends Hazel Miller and Ki Davis, who met as 6-year-old children in 1932 at Morning Star School.

From the beginning the two were fast friends, and their friendship endured into the teenage years. The two were so close, in fact, that Hazel had to pre-approve any of the girls Ki was interested in dating. Fortunately for Ki, the girl he fell in love with was Hazel’s close friend, Wilma Sue Nichols.

Ki and Wilma eventually married Nov. 15, 1945, with their friend Hazel as their witness. The wedding was only two days before Ki left for the Navy during World War II. Hazel later married another Navy man, C.E. Frederick, on Nov. 26, 1948.

After the war, the couples became neighbors on Dutch Cove Road in Canton, and Hazel and Wilma remained as close as ever, even having their youngest child on the same day just 20 minutes apart.

In 1962, the Fredericks moved away, but the two families remained close, supporting one another through good and bad times, including the loss of several children and eventually the loss of Ki in 2009. Today, Hazel and Wilma once again live only a few miles apart and are still the best of friends.

But their story is just the beginning. The next part of the love story lies with the couples’ children.

Raoul Frederick, the second son of Hazel and C.E. grew up in Canton until 1962 when his family moved to Ohio with his father’s job at Champion Paper. The family moved again to Texas in 1964 and that’s where Raoul would meet his future wife, Kathy Davis.

Kathy and Raoul met through friends and became good friends themselves until Raoul decided to move back to his hometown in the mountains. Facing separation, the two realized their friendship went deeper than they thought, and when Raoul invited Kathy up to view the fall leaves in September 1976, she packed up everything she could fit into her car and left her home state to move to North Carolina for good.

Raoul and Kathy got married in Sevierville, Tenn., in the back of Temple’s Feed Store on Dec. 2, 1978, wearing green down vests with an old couple buying chicken feed as their witnesses.

The couple had two daughters, Rachel and Rebecca, and they have enjoyed a happy healthy life as best friends for more than 30 years.

As for the other side of the two families that began this love story, Ki and Wilma Davis had several children, including a daughter they named Kila.

As a young woman, Kila often heard stories from her father about his friend at work, Max Thompson, a local war hero and Medal of Honor winner and Thompson’s son, Steve, who played football at Virginia Tech. Since Kila was a few years behind Steve in school, she’d never met him, but she’d heard many stories about the local football star.

In 1978, their paths finally crossed at The Starlight Disco. Kila was actually on a date with someone else, but she still noticed good-looking Steve as he walked by, and she couldn’t resist telling him, “Hello.”

Steve smiled back and later walked back over to Kila while her date was out on the dance floor. Thinking she looked gorgeous with a flower tucked in her hair, without saying a word, Steve gave her a big kiss. It turned out he had heard a lot about Kila over the years from his family, and he wanted to ask her out on a date.

A few nights later, the couple went on that date and both knew right away that they were the ones for each other. The couple married May 19, 1979, at the chapel at Lake Junaluska. Five years later, they had a son they named Austin.

Throughout all of the intervening years, the original families have still remained close, and Raoul and Kathy’s daughter Rachel, and Kila and Steve’s son Austin knew each other growing up as children, attending many of the same family events and parties. Over the years, the gatherings between their two families dwindled and the two grandchildren of Ki and Wilma Davis and Hazel and C.E. Frederick hadn’t seen each other in more than 15 years when another gathering would bring them together once again.

Rachel’s grandparents were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, and of course the Davis family, their children and grandchildren were invited. Rachel asked Kila about how Austin was doing, and she received a full report. This conversation prompted Austin’s family to tell him all about Rachel when they returned home.

Austin decided to ask for Rachel’s phone number so they could meet and catch up over dinner. The meeting ended up becoming the best first date either of the two had ever had with nonstop conversation and even a meteor shower taking place that evening. Although it took a little while for the couple to officially start dating, the two fell in love and Austin proposed during a getaway weekend at a cabin in Bryson City on July 9, 2010.

Rachel’s answer was a definite, “Yes,” and lifelong best friends Hazel and Wilma were thrilled to learn their grandchildren were getting married to one another.

Rachel and Austin were married Nov. 20, 2010. The couple chose the date in honor of their grandparents because it is between the anniversaries of their grandparents’ marriages on Nov. 15, 1945 and Nov. 26, 1948.

Rachel wore a flower in her hair on the day of the wedding to symbolize Kila and Steve’s love, and she made green a main color in the wedding in honor of the green vests her parents, Raoul and Kathy, wore when they got married. In fact, Rachel unknowingly wore that same green vest she’d found in her mother’s old clothing when she went out with Austin for the first time, and it did make an appearance for some photos during their wedding.

To top it all off, the weekend of the wedding there was a meteor shower, just like the one that occurred on Rachel and Austin’s first date.

And with Rachel and Austin’s marriage, the friendships that began so long ago came full circle to bring together a couple in love.

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