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  • Writer's pictureKathleen Holyoak

A Love Story and a Song - Part 1

Updated: Jan 30, 2021

In the late 90's, my husband and I had the privilege of meeting Larry and Marjorie Lee who had come to Arizona as "snow birds" for the winter. They lived in Salt Lake City and were close friends with my Aunt Maureen and Uncle Russ Relyea who also lived at Trevi Towers, a high-rise condo overlooking Temple Square. Aunt Maureen was insistent we meet the Lee's and I'll always be grateful to her for introducing us because that was the beginning of a wonderful, loving relationship that lasted for many years.

Marjorie and Lawrence Lee

Since the Relyeas were also here for the winter, I invited both couples over for dinner. Aunt Maureen was one of my mother's sisters and when my mother died, she always made a point to watch over me.

I love to cook and when I found out Larry did also, we immediately hit it off. I'll never forget sitting in our living room when Aunt Maureen started bragging about Larry's writing abilities. She suggested we should team up and write a song together. We didn't know one another but I certainly was willing to give it a try. (Little did we realize what was yet to come.)

Russ and Maureen Relyea

Upon Aunt Maureen's prodding, Larry, a very tall, slender and soft-spoken man who would never boast about his many national writing awards, agreed to recite some of his poems including one he had written for Uncle Russ's 80th birthday. It was obvious he was a gifted writer. Then to my surprise, Larry picked up my guitar and began strummig away while singing a song about a cowboy. He was not only a writer but also musical. To say the least, that was one day we'll never forget!

We learned Larry had retired as President from Western Airlines and with his wife, Marjorie's very quick wit, we quickly realized they were a cute couple we wanted to get to know better.

Marjorie always kept us laughing with her never ending quips and quotes such as, "run like a scalded cat," or "procrastination is hardening of the oughteries." We never knew how she could come up with so many clever quotes and sayings, not to mention how should could remember them. She was one intelligent, witty woman with a memory like an elephant.

After we starting writing music together, Larry came to me with a special request. He had written out the melody for a love song he wanted to surprise Marjorie with for her upcoming birthday. He requested that I write an arrangement and a vocal score so and we could have it recorded. When he sang it to me, it was beautiful and reminded me of a song from the 1940's. I gulped at his request, but with little time to spare, went to work so we could get it finished before Marjorie's birthday.

It was not unusual that Larry would write a song for Marjorie because every day he sang to her and verbally expressed his love. There was never any doubt in her mind of his devotion or hers to him; the two seemed literally incomplete without the other. I learned later that the song was written for those people in the world who have a hard time verbally expressing love to a partner. Music creates a thousand pictures and can touch hearts in a way that words can never speak. "You Will Always Find Me There," was included in my 2nd album, "Angels on Tipto" that we wrote together.

Here are some of the words: I may not say how much I love you. I may not show how much I care. All I know is if you need me, you will always find me there. Life would lose its glow without you, leaving castles in the air. Though I know with every rainbow I could look and find you there. (In Part 2 of this blog, you will be able to click a link that will take you directly to the song, "You Will Always Find Me There" which was recently published.)

Here are some of the words: I may not say how much I love you. I may not show how much I care. All I know is if you need me, you will always find me there. Life would lose its glow without you, leaving castles in the air. Though I know with every rainbow I could look and find you there.

(In Part 2 of this blog, you will be able to click a link that will take you directly to the song, "You Will Always Find Me There" which was recently published.)

A Love Story

The Lee's meeting and courtship could be made into a movie! During World War II, Larry joined the Navy and served in the Naval Air Transport Service. In 1946, after an adventure in Shanghai, he was based in Honolulu but due to a fateful opportunity was tranferred to Oakland. On his flight to California, Larry met his new commanding officer who in turn invited him to a party he was throwing for his crew. Because Marjorie worked at the Naval Air station, Larry's commanding officer asked her to be his date and hostess of the party.

1945 - Larry in Shanghai, China

When Larry walked in, Marjorie said, "The party was in full flare when all of a sudden a tall, tan movie-star-looking fellow came whistleing through the door." His commanding officer who was her date asked Larry, "Would you mind making up some hors d’oeuvres?" Larry was happy to do so because he had some culinary experience.

Marjorie, struck with "love at first sight," followed this "'dream boat" into the kitchen where she spent most of the evening helping him masterfully put together attractive, tasty creations . . . which she ate just as fast as the trays could be replenished! It was no surprise this "went over like a care-package of 'menus' with her date!"

Later, she admitted this allowed her to keep an eye on him and sort of to herself. It was also a "new innovative mission on her part" for she had never before been the least bit aggressive with men.

When Larry's buddy pulled him aside and said, "That's the commander's date," he knew it was time to leave! Larry, also smitten, recited his address and phone number to Marjorie on his way out.

That night Marjorie awakened her mother and told her all about this dreamy guy. The next day she found two pictures of herself and sent them in a letter which was returned 'unclaimed'. Undaunted, she beetled down to the communications office and found a "Lee" address with part of the phone number she'd remembered. Her spunk paid off and then followed just three terrific dates.

On April 26, 1946, when they met for lunch, Larry reached across the table and taking Marjorie by the hand said, "If I had a little ring, I'd slip it on your finger and marry you right now." She said, "I can get one, I just got my paycheck!" which she did on her way home from work. They knew they couldn't live without each other so they set the date to be married one month later.

One of two photos Marjorie sent Larry in a letter.

Her parents drove them to the bus station and they were excitedly bound for Reno. After riding the bus all night and before they were married, they were having breakfast when Larry confessed he wasn't as old as she possibly thought he was. Marjorie was twenty six and was very surpised to learn that Larry was a "mature nineteen." He was afraid if she knew she wouldn't marry him but that didn't phase Marjorie because she had her dream guy!

They were married in a small garden outside by a little old man and the bride-to-be carried a bouquet of Lillies of the Valley. She was strikingly beautiful with dark brown hair, an infectious smile and a bubbly personality. At barely 5' tall with tall heels and with Larry's 6'4" height, they were quite the couple.

Wedding Day in Reno

Later Marjorie said, "Ours was a match made in heaven. He cooks and I eat!"

The garden where they were married.

In a book Larry was writing about his life in 2008, I quote: "The minute I saw Margie I fell madly in love. Sixty-two years later that night is just as precious to me now as it was then, and I'm more than ever, 'madly in love' with her."

More than 71 years of marriage followed until her death. Marjorie Ann Lewis Lee died July 12, just two weeks shy of her 97th birthday. After her passing, I knew Larry wouldn't last long because they were literally joined at the hip. Three months later, Larry also passed. I am sure he didn't want her to be alone for Christmas.

Larry and Marjorie took me under their wing and adopted me as a "daughter," such a great compliment. We were a great team and wrote many dozens of songs together.

I adored "Papa Larry" and "Mama Marjorie" and they filled the void of the parents I had lost so many years prior.

In February each year, we always celebrated Larry's birthday with a dinner at our house. We always sang him the traditional birthday song or I played it on the piano. Click the photo at left to listen to my jazzy arrangement of the "Happy Birthday Song".

When the Lee's returned to Utah each Spring, I communicated mostly with Larry via emails. He would send me lyrics and then I would write the music. Even though we were apart, we were able to work harmoniously together and enjoy sharing many more music-writing experiences.

(To be continued . . . See part 2)

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Garth Holyoak
Feb 15, 2020

Loved it!


Feb 15, 2020

Very special to read about your Mama and Papa Marjorie and Larry, and their story, and the story behind your writing career together. Can't wait to hear the song on Part 2. Very touching.

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