In 1959, Linda Caldwell and Millard Fuller were married. That same year, Paul Degelmann tied the knot.
On Feb. 3, 2009, Linda lost her husband. On June 11 of that same year, Paul lost his wife, Juanine, to cancer.
On Monday, the widow and widower turned their parallel journeys into a joint one as they were united in matrimony in a simple ceremony at the Sumter County Courthouse.
“This was a very happy day for Paul and me,” said Linda, who added that the couple plan to have a “small and simple” church wedding at a later date.
“Of course we miss our father very much, but we are so incredibly happy for mom and Paul,” Faith Fuller said Tuesday. “They’re like a young couple in love. … It’s like a second chance for both of them. They were equally committed to their spouses for 50 years, and each had long, loving relationships.
“Neither of them chose to be widowed, they were both deeply in love and saddened by their loss — and I think that commonality helped bring them together.”
Linda, 70, and Paul, 73, plan to continue living in Americus, and Linda plans to remain actively involved in furthering The Fuller Center for Housing’s mission to fight poverty housing.
“Linda Fuller is one of the treasures of The Fuller Center, and we are all delighted that she has found someone to share her life with,” an excited Fuller Center President David Snell said. “She assures me that this won’t affect her role with us (although we did see a lot less of her during her courtship!) and Paul has promised his loyal support. This is a joyful event for all of us here at The Fuller Center for Housing.”
While daughter Faith acknowledged that the marriage is an adjustment for those closest to her parents and who see their names as synonymous with The Fuller Center for Housing and Habitat for Humanity, she said the family welcomes Paul into their lives.
“Of course, my parents, as a couple, were an institution and had an incredible legacy together,” Faith said. “But Paul is such a kind and loving person – he’s like a gift to my mom. I truly could not be happier for them. This is such a huge blessing for them both.”
“Mom’s recruiting for Fuller Center volunteers has gone to another level!” joked Millard and Linda’s first-born son, Chris. “I am happy my mother is so happy and in love. Dianne and I have met Paul, and he is a gentleman and a scholar. We wish them the best.”
Paul and Juanine Degelmann moved to Americus from Scottsboro, Ala., along with their two daughters, Shelly and Sandra. Shelly finished high school at Southland Academy, and Sandra at Americus High. They make their homes in Montgomery, Ala., and Vienna, Ga., respectively. Paul has four grown grandchildren.