When Ray Kinsman of Payson decided to ask Theresa Maiers to marry him, he went out of his way to make sure she got the message. He met her at the Phoenix airport last month with a large hand-lettered sign asking her to marry him.
Maiers, also of Payson, was returning from a nine-week visit to see her family in New York -- a trip that made Kinsman's heart grow fonder for his longtime friend. While she was in New York, he began courting her -- calling her and sending her love letters.
But she didn't expect the welcome at the airport. The passengers on her flight saw not only Kinsman's sign, but a message on the flight information board saying, "America West says, 'Theresa, say yes.'"
Kinsman had also taken out an ad in the Payson Roundup asking Maiers to marry him. He had a copy of the paper with him along with a dozen pink roses.
"All my fellow passengers stood around and clapped," she said. "We hugged, but I only said, 'It's possible.' I thought, 'How am I going to get out of this?'"
Maiers, 64, was widowed three years ago and said she was not thinking about getting married again.
"I had convinced myself that I liked being single," she said. "I liked the freedom, but deep underneath, I was lonely. I had made a full life for myself, but there was an empty spot."
Kinsman, who will be 75 this month, was a caregiver for his sick wife for five years and Maiers was her nurse for the last two.
Kinsman found Maiers to be caring and compassionate. "But love came into it only after my wife passed away," he said.
"I wasn't his type," Maiers said. "I was a skinny little runt."
In San Diego, where the couple recently went to attend a family funeral, Maiers got the chance to ask Kinsman's family and friends a few pointed questions.
"I said to myself, 'I'm not going to let this opportunity pass,'" she said. She talked to people who had known Kinsman for a long time and discovered a new side of him.
"I didn't know he was so deep and sweet," she said.
But still Maiers held out. She waited until she knew that Kinsman had gone through the grieving process for his wife. She insisted that he go through grief counseling.
On Sept. 17, after Maiers was convinced that both she and Kinsman were ready, she agreed to marry him, but tried to put the date off until early next year.
The church and hall, however, were not available. Kinsman had wanted to set the date for Nov. 17, and that's the only time the couple could get the church and the hall.
Maiers turned to Kinsman with the look of a runaway bride. "Is this an omen?" she asked. "Are you always going to get your way?"
Kinsman laughed. Maiers didn't really seem to mind that Kinsman had gotten his way this time.
"She knows she's going to get a guy who'll love her and take care of her," he said.