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jesset@spokesman.com Weston Withers stands on Dec. 22 in the bus that his late nephew Merle Coldwell was building before his death. Withers is trying to sell the bus and get it out of his Spokane Valley front yard. The former school bus sat for many months on the street near the Spokane County courthouse while Coldwell and a friend cut off the top and raised it. His dream was to take his girlfriend on a trip across the country. (Jesse Tinsley)
jesset@spokesman.com Weston Withers stands on Dec. 22 in the bus that his late nephew Merle Coldwell was building before his death. Withers is trying to sell the bus and get it out of his Spokane Valley front yard. The former school bus sat for many months on the street near the Spokane County courthouse while Coldwell and a friend cut off the top and raised it. His dream was to take his girlfriend on a trip across the country. (Jesse Tinsley)

Weston Withers stands on Dec. 22 in the bus that his late nephew Merle Coldwell was building before his death.

Merle Coldwell wanted to show his sweetheart the wonders of America last summer before she went blind – a grand gesture for a man of limited financial means and a weak heart.

Coldwell didn’t let those obstacles get in the way: He bought an old, yellow school bus, named it Gracie, and went to work in two metered parking spots outside the Dresden Apartments along North Monroe Street in Spokane. He painted it white and red, like a Valentine. Coldwell raised the roof and covered the sides with cedar shingles.

Every weld, every nail was guided by his singular purpose: to get on the road by summer with Neoma Smith, who had glaucoma and cataracts and whom he called his wife although they were never legally married. More.

Alas, no happy ending to this love story. What's the most romantic gesture you've ever received or offered?




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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.