Bride and groom promise to love, honor and cheer for the Cardinals

News-DemocratApril 13, 2014 

Cynthia Petry, flanked by friends and family, waited for the traffic light to change on the corner of 7th and Clark in downtown St. Louis.

Her life was about to change, too.

Dressed in a long, tiered strapless red gown, Cynthia, 61, of Cahokia, was about to marry Donnie Yates, 61, of Winfield, Mo., outside Busch Stadium the Saturday before the home opener.

"She's the one that's always first in line on opening day to get tickets," said her friend Lisa Darnell, of Dupo, who works at Judy's Corner Bar. "She's got her tent set up."

The afternoon was sunny, but cool. A row of tents lined the sidewalk across from the stadium to the west. Ballpark Village loomed in the background to the east. Beyond it, the Gateway Arch. Fans in Cardinal red posed next to statues of Cardinal greats -- until they noticed Cynthia and her entourage.

"What's the occasion?" one asked.

"I am getting married," she said.

"When?"

"Right now."

Cynthia, a private duty care giver, and Donnie, a retired ironworker, arranged themselves in front of the statues of Cardinal greats.

"Who's got the ring?"

"Where do I need to be?"

Kaci Dixon rolled her wheelchair in front of the couple to perform the ceremony.

"Cindy is family so I couldn't let her down," said Kaci, 38, of High Ridge, Mo. "I fell and broke my leg on St. Patrick's Day. I was taking the dog out and slid down the hill and cracked my leg and had emergency surgery that night."

Kaci recently became an ordained minister.

"I got diagnosed with MS two years ago," she said "I was a nurse. I needed something else to do. This is my second wedding. I have my own web site (forevervalentinewedding.com). It would give me something to do with this lovely disease, plus it's such a neat thing to watch people get married."

She has known Cynthia 30 years.

"Her daughters were 10 years apart," said Kaci. "Cindy is my brother's ex-wife. We always stayed real close."

Wedding guests, dressed in Cardinal red, snapped photos and congratulated the couple.

Cynthia and Donnie first met when they attended grade school in Winfield, Mo. They went their separate ways. Both were married -- Donnie for 41 years before his wife died -- and have grown children and grandchildren.

Cynthia, an avid Cardinals' fan, had moved to Cahokia on a whim about 10 years ago.

"They call me 'The Mayor,'" she said. "I camp out for tickets. I'm usually first in line. This year, somebody beat me."

Donnie is a little less of a fan.

"I like baseball but I never really came to a game. When it comes on, I watch it. Monday I will be coming. If I don't, I will be in trouble."

Their outdoor reception in a parking lot by the stadium included hot dogs, hamburgers, nachos and brats. A visit from Fredbird ($150 for a half-hour) was part of the fun.

For the home opener, Cynthia and Donnie ended up "in excellent seats" in left field, covered and out of the rain."Everything overall turned out wonderful," said Cynthia, "but now I'm beatin' tired,"

They plan a June honeymoon to Las Vegas.

Cindy eventually will move back to Winfield.

"We are going to live out in the country," said Donnie. "I am a country boy."

Cindy and Donnie reconnected eight months ago.

"I was working in rehab at St. Joseph's Hospital in St. Charles," Cynthia said. After one of her patients died, she and her sister attended the funeral in Winfield, about an hour north of St. Louis. Turned out, Donnie was there, too.

"I've known Cindy for 50 years," he said. "I ain't seen her in 45. I recognized her sister at the funeral, but not Cindy."

The three went out for a drink. Soon, Donnie was calling. They started going out. One thing led to another.

"She's just as crazy as she ever was," said Donnie, referring to Cynthia's outgoing personality, "but she met her match."

For Cynthia, things moved a little too quickly.

"He wanted to get married immediately and I said, "Forget it.'"

But not for long.

"Good men are hard to find," said Cynthia, "and I knew he was a good one."

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