For 72-year-old Mike Dunnagan, marrying Emilie Loe 50 years ago was a mix of true love and economics since he was in Hillsboro and she was working as an airline clerk in Detroit. He said it got to the point after one month that he could not afford to visit her anymore.
At the time, Dunnagan said, he was employed by Allied Appraisals and his future bride was a reservations agent with North Central Airlines. He met Loe, a Mowrystown native, while at a party with some friends in Michigan.
He said they began dating and every weekend he’d drive the more than 500-mile round trip to Detroit to see her. But after four weeks in a car that got around 10 miles to the gallon and with money running short, he called her and said he couldn’t make it the following week.
After returning from working in Portsmouth, he said he went to visit his parents at their home on Danville Pike when Emilie called to see if he was coming to Detroit that fifth weekend.
He told her that due to fatigue and lack of funds, he’d try to come up the following weekend. But she insisted he come up as soon as possible, and bring a trailer, since she decided to quit her job and come back home to southern Ohio, where she later began working at Merchants National Bank in Hillsboro.
That was in late 1968, and Dunnagan said he hooked a U-Haul trailer to his car and moved Loe and all of her belongings down Interstate 75.
Six months later, he slipped a wedding band on her finger.
He admitted in his case it wasn’t love at first sight, but said that Loe once confided that after their first kiss, she knew “right then that I was going to be her husband.”
“We both had new jobs and didn’t have any vacation time built up,” Dunnagan said. “And the Fourth of July that year was on a Friday, so I told her we could get married on our day off and we’d have the whole weekend for a little honeymoon.”
After exchanging their wedding vows that evening, the couple took off for Cincinnati, crossing the Ohio River and spending the night at the Holiday Inn in Erlanger, Ky. before heading south for a quick honeymoon in the Smokies at Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Their romantic getaway to Tennessee included the trip down I-75 to the curving road of U.S. Route 441 that snaked through the mountains. The newlyweds eventually wound up in the parking lot of Clingman’s Dome, the celebrated highest point of the Smoky Mountains.
“We’d pull off the road at times and neck a little bit on our way up the mountains,” he laughed. “And when we got to Clingman’s Dome, we made a U-turn and came back home.”
The couple now spends time with family, which includes their daughter, Pamela Claycomb, a nurse at Highland District Hospital, and son J.D. Dunnagan, who is employed at Ahresty in Wilmington, and spoiling their three grandchildren and one-great grandchild.
The semi-retired truck driver, who spent five years in retirement before returning to the workforce out of boredom, works for Charlie Mootz Trucking and said a friend of his recently told him he might eventually find his name in the Guinness Book of World Records.
“He said if you’ve been married to the same woman for 50 years,” Dunnagan said, and you’ve driven a truck all your life, and you know how some of those truckers have a girl in every truck stop, you may have set some sort of world record.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.