Bob and Donna Davenport of Cape Girardeau reconnected, married after 50th high school reunion

Monday, February 4, 2013
Bob and Donna Davenport inside their Cape Girardeau home. (Laura Simon)

Bob and Donna Davenport's love story sounds like the storyline from a good movie.

They were classmates at East Alton/Wood River Community High School and graduated from a class of about 200 students in 1950.

"I knew of Bob (in high school) but he ignored me," teases Donna.

Bob concurs that even though they had some of the same classes, he really doesn't remember Donna from back in high school.

"Like most 15- to 18-year-old boys, I didn't look much at the skinny girls," he jokes.

Both Bob and Donna married after high school and raised families, with Bob and his wife Henrietta settling in Yucaipa, Calif., and Donna and her family living in Denver.

"We both attended our 40th class reunion but didn't talk to each other then," says Donna.

They both became widowed around the same time: Donna lost her husband in 1999 and Bob lost his wife in 2001.

It was at their 50th high school class reunion that Bob and Donna got to know each other.

"A classmate of ours named Rhea Bolt is a retired nurse and she suggested that I contact Bob after the reunion," says Donna. "Bob had prostate cancer, he had recently lost two of his brothers and his wife had been in a nursing home battling Alzheimer's for several years before she died."

Their classmate thought Donna could be of some help to Bob.

"Rhea said that Bob was very depressed and she was worried about him," says Donna. "She told me that I have a way of getting through to people, but I was worried that Bob might take (my concern) the wrong way."

Donna ended up writing a note to Bob.

"I told him that several of our classmates had lost their spouses (over the years), including me, and that while it was extremely painful, we'd all get through it," says Donna.

Several days later, Donna's phone rang. It was Bob thanking her for the note.

"He told me that the note was very sweet and that no one had ever done that for him before," says Donna. "I assured him that he wasn't alone and told him that if he ever needed anyone to talk to, day or night, to call me."

Bob took Donna up on her offer and the two began a long-distance relationship over the phone for several months.

"Once he called me at 2:30 in the morning just to talk," says Donna.

Bob says his relationship with Donna got him through many dark times.

"If it wouldn't have been for Donna, I'd probably be in a padded cell by now," he says.

The two visited back and forth a few times while Bob was still battling prostate cancer.

"After one of his surgeries, Bob really needed help, and he didn't have anyone to take care of him, as his kids didn't live nearby," says Donna. "I had been widowed for a couple of years and was trying to decide whether to keep my big house in Denver or sell it and get something smaller."

Donna eventually sold her home in Denver and moved to California to care for Bob.

"Bob had a nice three-bedroom, two-bathroom home, but I was deathly afraid of the freeway system out there," says Donna. "I'd drive back and forth to the hospital (to see Bob]) and I'd pray all the way there and back that I'd make it!"

After dating for about two and a half years, Bob and Donna were married in Mesquite, Texas, by Bob's brother-in-law, who is a retired minister. They later moved to Cape Girardeau to care for Bob's elderly aunt. The Davenports have been married for 10 years.

"The second time around is great!" says Bob.

Both agree that had they gotten together back in high school, it probably wouldn't have worked out.

"Donna probably wouldn't have tolerated me when I was younger," jokes Bob.

Now, they appear to have many things in common.

"We both have a good sense of humor; we enjoy each other's companionship, and we were both raised in the same (type of) church," says Donna. "I believe there is a purpose for all of us. It seems like God worked in a full circle when he brought Bob and me together."

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