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Bloomsday bride, groom have 12K wedding march

Mon., May 2, 2005

The bride wore white – white shorts, white running shoes and a white veil attached to her white visor.

Then, minutes after her second wedding, 75-year-old Elisabeth Johnson walked her first Bloomsday. The groom, 78-year-old Hugh Lewis, stayed by her side in a tuxedo T-shirt and top hat. A wedding party of six joined them on the 12-kilometer route.

“We’re just so happy for her,” said Johnson’s daughter, P.J. Watters. “She deserves to be happy.”

Johnson and Lewis met in New Mexico, where she lives in Las Cruces and he lives in Rio Rancho, near Albuquerque. Lewis saw Johnson’s profile on an online dating service.

“I felt compelled to send her an electronic wink,” he said.

Johnson’s first husband died about 40 years ago, Watters said, and Lewis recently had lost his first wife. After she quit smoking at age 70, Johnson took up walking, cycling and archery and has competed in the Senior Olympics.

The two arranged to meet in Santa Fe for a volksmarch. Lewis had more than exercise on his mind. “Those volksmarches are an excellent way to talk and get acquainted,” he said.

Soon, Johnson was calling her daughter, and telling her to reserve May 1 for a wedding.

“So she said, ‘Mom, Bloomsday is May 1,’ ” Johnson said. ” ‘Why don’t you come to Spokane?’ “

Watters is a 23-year Bloomsday veteran, and she’d been urging her mother to come up for the race for years. This time, the invitation worked. After initially planning a midcourse ceremony, Watters was persuaded to move the wedding to the KHQ patio downtown, and the nuptials were aired live.

As Johnson and Lewis took their vows under an arch of balloons, TV cameras joined the family video cameras to capture the event.

Members of the wedding party cheered and blew bubbles as the newlyweds climbed into a pedicab for a ride back to the starting line.

As they headed off into their new life together, Johnson and Lewis each wore two signs pinned to their T-shirts.

On the fronts were their bib numbers.

On the backs: “Just Married.”


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