Katherine Metcalf’s first crush was the boy in her first-grade class, the kid with the blond hair who always wore Miami Dolphins gear and ran around, playing soccer.
Tim Reddick noticed her, too. Katherine was small and skinny, but also bold and unafraid to come up and talk to him.
The two children were in the same classroom — Room 31, belonging to teacher Jan Cellio in Woodland Elementary School in Perrysburg. But they weren’t close, more like acquaintances than friends.
“I always wanted to be his friend because I liked him,” Katherine said.
From there, it seemed like that was the end of the story.
They only saw each other in passing after first grade, and had different teachers.
In eighth grade, Katherine’s family moved out of Perrysburg, and she enrolled in Anthony Wayne Schools.
But she didn’t forget about Tim; nor did he forget about her.
Now, as adults, they are celebrating their unlikely romance.
They got engaged on Dec. 27 in Room 31, their old classroom, and plan to marry today at Grace United Methodist Church.
After their honeymoon in Mexico, they plan to relocate to the greater Washington, D.C. area.
Their wedding comes full circle since they invited their first grade teacher to the wedding.
“It’s great they’ve gotten together after all this years,” said Mrs. Cellio, who retired in 2004 and still lives in Perrysburg. “I really wasn’t aware of this budding little romance in my classroom at the time.”
“When I look at them, they’re going to be just wonderful lifemates and parents, if that happens.”
Ms. Metcalf and Mr. Reddick reconnected during their senior year of high school after his father died from cancer in 2004.
At the funeral, the two saw each other, but didn’t speak. A short time later, she sent him a letter, making sure he was OK.
“I was kind of in awe,” said Mr. Reddick, 25. “She’s still thinking about me. She cares.”
Even though they went to two different schools, they hung out and were friends.
But Mr. Reddick also was dating another girl from Perrysburg.
“I realized the mistake I made,” he said. “What did I do? I beat myself up for years.”
In 2005, they both graduated and went their separate ways.
Mr. Reddick studied criminal justice at the University of Findlay and then landed security jobs. About 2 ½ years ago, he became a law enforcement officer at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Ms. Metcalf went to Ohio University and then transferred to Lee University, a Christian school in Cleveland, Tenn., to study psychology.
She began juggling school and long hours working at the Free Chapel’s church youth program in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ms. Metcalf said she still thought of Mr. Reddick as her first love, years later.
And he still felt regret about dating somebody else, instead of Ms. Metcalf, he said.
In April, 2011, through Facebook, they got back in touch. The Facebook message turned into a long-distance phone call, then a week visit, and then a renewed romance.
The two, who began dating last year, only saw each other a few days every month.
Ms. Metcalf liked that he calmed her down when she was stressed out. He reminded her to slow down, take one step at a time. He was full of ideas, like researching new places to visit or making food, like apple crisp, from scratch.
Mr. Reddick liked that she was goofy and spontaneous, like when she jumped off the steps into his arms because she knew he would catch her. She was so outgoing and thoughtful, making anybody feel comfortable. Not only was she stunning, but she was also a woman of strong faith, he said.
On a snowy afternoon — Dec. 27 — Mr. Reddick convinced Ms. Metcalf to go to Woodland to pick up papers from his mother, a Perrysburg elementary school nurse.
She could feel him shuffling in his pocket for the ring, Ms. Metcalf said, retelling the story.
“I didn’t know that,” Mr. Reddick said softly.
Their old first-grade classroom was decorated with photographs of them as children and adults and a plate of apple dumplings, the same recipe Ms. Cellio made in their first-grade class.
When Mr. Reddick proposed, she didn’t cry. She screamed.
For the couple, they say their romance shows how love can be unexpected, how timing is outside their control.
“It’s a sign of hope,” Mr. Reddick said. “It shows God can do a lot.”
Contact Gabrielle Russon at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6026.