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Valentine sweethearts tell their love story

By LAURA QUEZADA News Review Staff Writer    

Forrest and Kay Lloyd

This July Kay and Forrest Lloyd will be celebrating their 54th Wedding Anniversary. Theirs is a happy union with them sharing and overcoming difficult times and enjoying the good times with their focus on kids, careers, and community involvement.

Kay says, “I think the part that helps a marriage have longevity is that you sign up and say, ‘How important is this to my spouse?’  I may not want to do this. I may not agree with it. But how important is it to him? Then, talk about whether it is a want. Or is it a need? Because they are two different venues, they are.”

Kay and Forrest Lloyd / Laura Austin Photo

The Lloyds met in 1967 while attending the College of the Desert near Palm Springs. They were both in the same Spanish class. Kay was sitting between Forrest and her current boyfriend. The boys were both failing Spanish. It wasn’t love at first sight, Forrest admits, “I saw her someone who might get me through Spanish class and I gave up. I realized that I wasn’t going to get through Spanish class.” He dropped the class after two weeks.

Kay says this is when God intervened. On a Friday at 3 pm, Kay decided to drop by the cafeteria and grab a Diet Pepsi before heading to her job at Rite Aid. She generally headed straight out at the end of the day, but not this day. It was there that Forrest asked her out for the first time. She learned that he had told himself, “The next girl I know that walks in the door to the cafeteria, I’m going to ask out.”

They had seen each other on campus. Kay was walking on crutches due to a broken foot. Forrest says, “She used to go by the math department and I always gave her a bad time because she was limping.” Kay says Forrest comes from a family of teasers. “Our family didn’t, so he stood out. He had this little sexy East Coast walk.” This was unfamiliar to her. “Because I’m from the South, I’m from Arkansas. So he just kind of swaggered in and well…”

They went to see the movie More than a Miracle with Sophia Loren and Omar Sharif. Kay says of their first date, “I’m usually ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ I’m trying to be the person carrying the conversation.  I didn’t have any boyfriends in high school. I was very college-bound. Anyway, I asked him three questions. (Actually made three statements) I want to have three children; I want to be a teacher, which means I won’t be a stay-at-home mom; his mom has five children. And then none of this living together. If you want me, you marry me.” Forest jokes, “She gave me a five-page resume.”

They continued dating, including a romantic date for the Snowball Formal at the top of the San Jacinto Mountains up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. And that summer, they fell in love. “That summer, he put in for San Diego State, as did I, as a junior. Then he got his draft notice from his hometown in Pennsylvania, and the acceptance of San Diego State came after. So, he joined the US Army and joined the Vietnam War. We got engaged that Christmas of ‘68. He came home with a crew cut, and no hair, and he told my dad, ‘I’m marrying your daughter.’ He didn’t say, ‘Can I marry?’ My dad made me promise not to get married until Forrest was back.  He wanted me to finish college. It was really important to him.”

Forrest wrote Kay every day from Vietnam. They were able to see each other on one of his R&R breaks. “We met in Hawaii for my 21st birthday. My parents were very upset. Baptists, you know, anyway, we met there, and here I am. I have a little bit of money. The whole airplane was either wives, girlfriends, or fiances. It was a really fun trip. We get off. We got the lei flowers, and we are all waiting for the buses to come. I was thinking, ‘I am here. I have a plane ticket home. I don’t have any information about where we are staying.’ But he arrived on the last bus.”

When he returned from Vietnam in 1970, they were married. Kay tells us, “His mom made all the six bridesmaids’ dresses in Pennsylvania. He was in Vietnam, so the whole wedding was planned without him.” Forrest adds, “I just had to show up. They told me it’s my job to pay the preacher. A dozen of the Lloyd family came all the way from Pennsylvania for the wedding.”

They agreed they would not have children until they both finished college.  “He had two more years of college. I had a year of student teaching. So we worked that summer and lived in the little trailer we bought; all our friends had apartments, but we lived in a little trailer. He finished his two years and we had a baby and moved to Ridgecrest in July.”

The first few years in Ridgecrest were difficult. After his Vietnam experience, Forrest did not want to be involved with the military, but he was hired by a contractor to work in a military laboratory. He had graduated with a degree in mathematics and there were very few jobs available. And in 1973, there were no teaching jobs. Kay was told that she would have to leave San Diego if she wanted to teach. Forrest’s job turned into a career in a field he never wanted.

Eventually, community involvement and love of family overrode the underlying anger of disappointment. The Lloyds were Cub Scout leaders and Boy Scout leaders and were involved with their church. Forrest joined a mountain rescue.  “I joined things where you’re paying back to society. And so that was always a high priority. It’s not something I thought about, but if you look at my actions…

“I think a big part of our relationship was both of us put a lot into our own careers. That was a big part of that. And the children were a big part of the family first. And school teaching. She lived to teach. She had a task ahead of her, and a pretty challenging one. Working on a base was challenging from a technical standpoint.  I was constantly taking classes, they require you to take classes out there. When I came to work here, no one knew how to build software. We all had to learn together.  I was part of the team that evolved into taking software and turning it into an engineering discipline.”

Then, the kids grew up and left home. It was time for the empty nest. Forrest says, “I rolled out of the bed one morning, put my feet on the floor, and in a flash realized that my kids didn’t need me anymore. They had everything that I had to say to them and they had roadmaps to their future. They had a lot of resources.  I was no longer needed as a parent. You have to have a purpose in life. So there are some men that run out, and they get rid of their wives and marry a woman 15 Years younger with kids, no husband, and they do it again. And that wasn’t going to happen to me. I looked at what my purpose in life was. And I found my new purpose in life through Rotary.”

He explains, “It’s a service organization. Most people join it to accomplish things. Rotary is a project organization. Rotary does projects all over the world. So I ended up joining that organization and did a lot of projects all over the all over the world.” The one that stands out is putting four Intensive Care Units into a children’s hospital in Saigon, Vietnam. “In 2004, I decided I was going to sneak over to Vietnam. And sneak in the sense that, you know, very low profile, probably wear the clothes on my back, get over there, buy a new wardrobe, buy a motorcycle or a bicycle, and ride around the country. Well, that didn’t happen. Not even close. First, our daughter calls me up from Spain and says she’s going with me. Rotary member Steve says, ‘You’re not going to be in Nam unless you come back with a Rotary project.’  So what was supposed to be a very low profile was about as big a profile as you could possibly imagine.” The project took five years and his daughter Michelle wound up living and working in Vietnam for nine years.

Kay also joined Rotary. She is the President of the Indian Wells Valley Rotary, and Forrest is a member and former President of China Lake Rotary. They attend each other’s functions and they are involved in many social activities surrounding their clubs. They enjoy hosting friends for dinners. Kay teaches Bible Study for Women at Immanuel Baptist Church (IBC), while Forrest keeps the heaters and coolers at IBC running properly. Forrest helps out with the Veterans Breakfast at the Historic USO Building, Kay is a Mom Mentor for mothers of preschoolers.

They travel together all over the world for Rotary International meetings. Kay tells us, “In  2006, we had our trip of a lifetime. We went for six days to Copenhagen. Then we went to Germany for six days to visit our best friend’s daughter, who was married to a German Air Force boy who was stationed there. And then we went to the Czech Republic for six days to our former exchange students’ home.”

One can see that a strong work ethic is important to the Lloyds. Forrest says, “We both came from families that didn’t have a whole lot of money.” Kay adds, “It was very driven into us. We passed it on to our kids. Our kids had part-time jobs when a lot of our friends’ children just went to school.”

Kay and Forrest believe Ridgecrest is a great community in which to raise children, and they are making it a great community in which to live for the rest of their lives.

Brice Hill and Dixie Risden

Brice Hill and Dixie Risden / Courtesy Photo

“She said ‘yes,’”  Bryce Hill joyfully announced on Facebook on December 28, 2023. Dixie Risden said “yes” to her sweetheart of many years. They plan a civil wedding in Logan, Utah, on March 16, 2024, and will be sealed to one another at the Latter Day Saints (LDS) Los Angeles Temple in the summer. Bryce explains, “We’re going to go down to Los Angeles Temple and get sealed there, which is like a type of wedding but in a more spiritual sense because we have civil marriages that’s just with the law and the state government. But we also believe in the Church that families can be together forever. And part of that process is being sealed to one another for time and eternity in one of the Temples of the Lord. And so that’s also why I decided to propose at the Temple just because of the significance of time and eternity, even after death.”

The ceremony will be held in Los Angeles rather than in Ridgecrest. Bryce explains the two LDS churches in Ridgecrest: “There’s a chapel or there’s a meeting house. Those are just for everyday activities. We have our weekly services there. We have a bunch of youth activities. Anyone can go in there. Then, we have a different type of building, which is something more special, and those are called temples. Those aren’t as common as chapels; there are quite a few, but there are not as many, and those are dedicated solely for higher worship in more special acts, like making covenants or promises with God. Only the church members are allowed to go in because we want to keep the reverence in the sacred holiness of those Temples.”

Once they realized they would be getting married, Dixie was able to design her wedding rings. Bryce says, “We went down to a shop in Provo, Utah, that is able to do custom wedding and engagement bands from scratch on the 3d modeling program/software and build a ring that you want to be completely yours. We went down, and Dixie was able to design her ring, and a really special part about that was we were able to use my grandmother’s wedding engagement band and her diamond in the middle. So we took her diamond, and it is now Dixie’s center stone. They were also able to use the metal that was in my grandmother’s rings.”

However, Bryce seems to be a romantic soul who wanted to surprise her with an official engagement. Over winter break, “there were lots of possible times. I wanted to keep her on her toes, not knowing when I would propose.  I planned it for right after Christmas when our siblings had different sports tournaments in the LA area. And so I talked with her parents and mine, and we arranged it so that one evening after sports, we would meet at the Los Angeles Temple, and I would propose there.”

At the ages of 20 and 21, this young couple will be a Mr. and Mrs. This is not a decision that is entered into lightly. They have known each other for quite a long time. In the second semester of eighth grade, Dixie needed to move to the front of the classroom during Algebra. Bryce and his friends always sat in the front corner. “That’s where I really first met her,” says Bryce.

Dixie became aware of Bryce when he was dating one of her good friends. They had broken up. “We had the same early morning PE class. I had noticed him from then, and I was extremely shy, so I never said anything; we never talked. That was the first time I noticed him, and then I realized that he was also in my math class.”

Dixie and Bryce became part of the same social group that hung out together. Their first date was during eighth grade when they went to the Touch of Class Dance at Murray Middle School. Dixie explains that it was a formal dance, like a prom. She was still very shy but remembers, “It was a really fun time with him.”

“We stayed together going into high school and during high school,” says Bryce. “During the summers, we did a lot of little dates to dinner, and we went to the movies a lot.” They also did day trips to hike to local destinations, including Sand Canyon and Fossil Falls.

After graduating from high school, Bryce went on a mission to Columbia. (See Bryce Hill, a BHS grad, reports on his mission to South America, August 18, 2023). “So, during that time, it was a bit weird relationship-wise. Because, as a missionary, you are not allowed to go on dates. I was a couple 1000 miles away as well.” Dixie interjects with a giggle, “And in a different country.” Bryce continues, “So we were limited a lot. We mainly emailed each other back and forth each week on my one free day on Mondays. We were able to message each other and talk about our week. It wasn’t really like official dating because of the circumstances, and as a missionary, you want to focus as much as you can on your purpose in that country and helping people learn about the gospel of Christ. We obviously wanted to stay together and planned for after I came back from my mission to continue dating.”

Dixie says, “I was doing a bit of college. I was trying to get a lot of my Gen Eds out of the way, like math and English and some of my science classes.  I was working as a receptionist for Gary Charlon State Farm office. And then I also got a Certified Nursing Assistant license through Bella Sera.” She stopped her classes to focus on saving money for college and deciding her career path. “I am planning on becoming a Childhood Therapist.  I will focus on mental health and behavioral aspects, especially with kids who have learning disabilities, and try to help prevent any mental health illnesses or issues coming up going into adolescence. So, my technical major is called Health Education and Promotion. I’m minoring in Psychology and Mental Health Advocacy and Awareness.”

They are currently attending Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Bryce is majoring in Computer Engineering. The future looks bright for this young couple. Bryce acknowledges that their chosen fields offer many options. “With both of our majors and, what we are wanting to go into is pretty widely available. Engineering for me and her as a therapist, or even with her nursing or medical background, she could work in that realm. In reality, we could probably find jobs in any place. There are a lot of options. We have talked about going back to Ridgecrest with me working on the Base or staying here in Utah.”

Bryce speaks for them both when he says, “We both want four or five kids. However, many come, and we’ll gladly accept that number. That’s the general plan, maybe a bit later, but whatever God’s plan is, we will be happy and accept that as well.”

George and Lola Hamlett

Lola and George Hamlett / Laura Austin Photo

This Valentine’s Day, Lola and George Hamlett celebrate their seventh anniversary, but there is no 7-year-itch for this Baby Boomer-loving couple. They are as adorable together as newlyweds. Some say the key to a happy marriage is a “happy wife, happy life.” Lola laughingly tells George, “Just give me everything I want and I will be happy.”

There is a lot of companionship in this relationship, plus plenty of space for individual pursuits. They have a Micro-Minnie Winnebago travel trailer and spend a lot of time camping and on the road, especially since George recently retired. He tells us about a recent trip, “We took the trailer up the coast, picked up her granddaughter. We went all the way from California to Washington, through Washington to her brother’s place in Eastern Washington and her sister’s up in Northern Idaho, back down through Yellowstone and the Tetons.” Lola adds, “It was beautiful, a really fun trip. We had another trip when we went to Yosemite. We went up to Reno and then to Tahoe.” Lola’s daughter lives in Florida and they took a month-long trip to visit her. As one can imagine, the gas was a bit expensive, but nowhere were the costs as high as in California.

There are a lot more adventures planned, including going to Texas in April to see the Eclipse. The Hamletts enjoy hiking to local destinations. George is a bit of a desert naturalist. He can point out the constellations and the stars and is an avid rock hunter. Death Valley is a frequent destination, “He likes to get in the truck and go off on dirt roads.” They also fish. We tease that this continent is their playground.

George and Lola on their first date, Trona High School Prom, 1970. / Courtesy Photo

George and Lola met at Trona High School when Lola was Lola Molt. Lola was in seventh grade in the Class of 1972 and George was in ninth grade in the Class of 1970. Lola moved to Trona when she was in sixth grade and George’s family lived in Southern California for a couple of years. When his family returned, George’s sister, Rainy, became one of Lola’s best friends.  “I spent the night at their house. George got me out and looking at the stars,” remembers Lola.

George says of Trona, “From being there since I was a little kid, it was just total freedom. I  ate breakfast and went out and played and you could go anywhere and do anything.” Lola says, “I grew up with a motorcycle family. All of the kids had motorcycles. So I spent a lot of time just out in the desert. You know, riding my motorcycle. We had a big pit across the street from where I lived and I would go up the side of the mountains and do wheelies. It was it was a lot of fun.” George says, “It was a good-sized town and everybody looked out for each other. The school was big enough to have a lot of different activities, but it was small enough for whatever activity you wanted. You could do it because there weren’t any other people on it. There were so many opportunities. Everybody did a whole bunch of different things. I don’t think anybody felt singular and out of place.”

Of their early days, George says, “I don’t have a vivid memory of first meetings.” But he recalls that she was a cheerleader and he was in sports. Lola says, “I would see him when we were cheering and he was in sports and I always thought he was so cute.”  George says, “She started cheering when she was a freshman and sophomore. She really matured. I mean she was out on her own motorcycle.  She blossomed and I thought, ‘Whoa.’”

When he was a senior, he asked her to go to the prom. Lola had to convince her mother to let her go because she was only 15 years old and the family rule was no dating until she was 16.  Her mother had two rules: no dating until you are 16 and no dating anyone older than she was. Mom was cautious, having been married when she was 15 and to a much older man. “She finally backed down because my birthday was June 6, so it was a month away and I said, ‘It’s not fair.’ And so she backed down and said that he could pick me up. I felt like a princess getting ready for that prom.”

The prom was their first date and their second date would not come until decades later. He went away to college and when he came home over the summer, she would be summering in Idaho. They saw each other a couple of times over the years when George would be traveling with a buddy and they would drop in on Lola when she lived in Reno and when she lived in Arizona. Each time, they were only friends due to other relationships.

Then came the 2015 All Class Reunion for Trona Homecoming. They were both single. Lola sat at the Class of 1970 table. A few observers noted that their eyes met and “sparks flew.” They danced, they had fun. George stepped away and said he’d be right back. Well, at homecoming, you don’t get very far without running into someone who wants to talk. He didn’t come right back. In fact, he was gone quite a while. So Lola was in a truck, ready to get a ride back home, when George found her. She took the ride home, a little disappointed but knowing that George had her phone number.

“He called every single day for over a year. We only missed  two days and it was because the phone service was out.” They saw each other when they could. George was working at the plant in Trona and Lola was living in Arizona and working as a flight attendant. She could arrange time off and visit George. George would drive to Arizona when he had days off. That worked for a while. Then, over the holidays in 2016, George proposed while they were visiting family in Sacramento. “He got down on one knee,” says Lola. They didn’t say anything, but when everybody noticed the ring, a celebration ensued.

Lola wanted to be married on Valentine’s Day. She says, “I didn’t want him to forget what day we got married.” George planned it all. He says, “It was just a simple Vegas wedding.” Lola adds, “All I had to do was get my dress, and he had a place where we were staying, where he put together the whole ceremony with a chapel and a dinner. Later we had a little celebration with one of the girls I flew with. She had some people over at her house in Arizona. Then we came here.” A friend from the Class of 1970 hosted a celebration. “It was actually a pretty big celebration. There were a lot of people there.”

Lola says, “I had to kiss a lot of frogs before I met my prince.” George adds, “I was a frog until you kissed me.”