An Unusual Love Story
In 1958, Dennis Vinar and Karen Lehmann were high school sweethearts in Browntown, Minnesota. Despite that the two were different in every way, they still fell for each other. They say opposites attract, and that was the case with Dennis and Karen.
Dennis was a local football star. A childhood illness set him back a few years, which made him work even harder to reach his goals. His father was a Buick salesman in St. Paul, and Dennis often helped his dad at work. When Dennis got to high school, he was an honest, responsible, good looking boy.
Karen was the complete opposite. She was shy and introverted. Karen was a very intelligent girl, and she focused more on her education than being popular. The one thing that Karen did have in common with Dennis was a strong work ethic. She didn’t work hard at sports like Dennis. Instead, she invested her time in playing the clarinet. She was a star player in the band all through high school.
Dennis and Karen met in 1958 when Karen was 13, and Dennis was 15. Dennis was immediately attracted to Karen, but he didn’t act on it at first. By 1960, the two were achieving their dreams. Karen was a wonderful musician, and Dennis had become a football star. Finally, Dennis acted on his attraction to Karen, and he invited her to the prom. She said yes, and all the girls were jealous. Things started to move fast from there. Dennis was often late to football practice because he walked Karen home from school. Karen was head over heels in love with Dennis.
Unfortunately, things between Karen and Dennis took a turn for the worse. When Karen was 15, she found out that she was pregnant with Dennis’s baby. They knew that they were way too young to start a family, and they weren’t at all prepared. Dennis loved Karen and wanted to do the right thing. He decided to ask her to marry him. Karen’s parents weren’t happy about their daughter getting married at such a young age. Because she was underage, her parents could stop her from getting married. Rather than allowing the marriage, they shipped Karen off to a maternity home. Back then, maternity homes were very popular. They provided free medical care for mothers, and when the babies were born, they were often put up for adoption. This was what families did back then when teen pregnancy and having a child out of wedlock was taboo.
Karen had to obey her parents, and she gave birth to a daughter at the maternity home. She named her Denise, after Dennis. Denise was put up for adoption quickly after birth. Karen still loved Dennis, and against her parents’ wishes, she reached out to Dennis. He proposed marriage again, but her parents still wouldn’t allow it.
After college, there were more obstacles in the young couple’s way. Dennis got into the army, and Karen was accepted to the University of Minnesota. Dennis was committed to Karen, and he sent her letters. Unfortunately, Karen’s father kept all of the letters hidden, so she didn’t know he was writing. Karen was sure that Dennis had given up on her. When Karen didn’t respond to his letters, Dennis thought that she had moved on. They both moved on with their lives. Karen earned a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design, and she got married and had a family. Dennis also got married and had two children. Fifty years passed, with no communication between the two.
Thinking Of Karen
In October 2014, Dennis went to a party. They were playing a game, and the question to Dennis was, “If your doctor gave you 60 days to live, who would you want to see?” Dennis said that it would be Karen, and a few days later, he reached out to her. He was divorced, so nothing was holding him back. He used Linkedin to find Karen. And he discovered that she was living in Monroe, Washington, and working in interior design. He called her office and left a message with her secretary. When Karen got the message, she called Dennis right back.
Karen was divorced as well, and the two communicated for two months before deciding to meet in person. Dennis booked a flight to Washington on January 19, 2015. When they met, the feelings were still there. They never wanted to be apart again. After two days, they got married. After the wedding, they packed up and moved back to Minnesota.
Now that they were finally together, they wanted to find their daughter. The couple worked with the adoption agency to see if they could help find their child. Their daughter, now known as Jean Voxland, was a 56-year-old married woman with three children. She was living in Kenyon, Minnesota. When she got the letter that her birth parents were trying to reconnect, she thought it was a scam. Her husband investigated and realized that it was legit.
In May 2016, the three finally met. It was emotional for everyone. Dennis and Karen told Jean their story, and she couldn’t believe it. Finally, Karen and Dennis felt that their lives were complete. They even got to meet their grandchildren. Jean ended up writing a book about the whole experience called, How Did You Find Me After All These Years, A Family Memoir. Their story was an incredible one. For Karen, it was a dream come true. She got pregnant in high-school but couldn’t keep the baby, 50 years later this happens, and her world finally made sense.