THEY FOUGHT THE LAW AND LOVE WON; 94-YEAR-OLD AND BRIDE, 86, CAN FINALLY BE TOGETHER.Byline: Donna Huffaker Staff Writer
The law came down hard on Charles Barnes and Connie Driscoll when the couple ran off and eloped two years ago.
It certainly wasn't that Driscoll and Barnes were too young.
He was 92 and she 84.
But Driscoll suffered from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's disease Alzheimer's disease (ăls`hī'mərz, ôls–), degenerative disease of nerve cells in the cerebral cortex that leads to atrophy of the brain and senile dementia. , so her conservators had gotten a court order barring anyone from relocating Barnes' longtime long·time
Having existed or persisted for a long time: a longtime friend; a longtime resident of Detroit.
Adjective girlfriend without permission.
Yet the threat of jail and fines wasn't nearly enough to stop Barnes from marrying his friend of 50 years. ``She's my everything. I love her,'' he said one recent afternoon as she gazed lovingly at him.
Still, the law is the law, so in October 1997, one month after the couple exchanged wedding vows, Barnes stood behind his walker in front of a Glendale Superior Court judge. He faced five days in jail on a contempt of court charge.
The judge passed on the contempt charge but initiated proceedings to have the marriage annulled.
Still Barnes was determined to look after his ``honey bunch.''
``A promise is a promise,'' said Barnes, now 94.
Now, two years, five attorneys and $100,000 in legal fees later, the couple is ready to celebrate their nuptials - they beat the system.
The annulment annulment
Legal invalidation of a marriage. It announces the invalidity of a marriage that was void from its inception. It is to be distinguished from dissolution or divorce. To justify annulment, the marriage contract must have a defect (e.g. was denied in June.
Driscoll, now 86, got up from her chair and planted a kiss on his face, bringing a smile to Barnes. ``You're my gorgeous sweetheart,'' he said.
The couple held hands on an antique couch in Barnes' English Tudor-style home while their caregiver, Alma Clarette, ran around making final arrangements for a two-year wedding anniversary party.
Their love story began 50 years ago.
They were longtime friends, and just before Driscoll's first husband died in the late 1960s, Barnes promised him he would watch out for her. Then after Barnes' wife died in 1989, their friendship blossomed into a romance.
Driscoll began experiencing short-term memory short-term memory
Abbr. STM The phase of the memory process in which stimuli that have been recognized and registered are stored briefly. loss in 1992. Her niece NIECE, domestic relations: The daughter of a person's brother or sister. Amb. 514; 1 Jacob's Ch. R. 207. , Kathy Foster Kathy Foster (born in Portland, Oregon) is the current bassist for the punk band The Thermals and drummer for the All Girl Summer Fun Band. Also with The Thermals bandmate Hutch Harris, she was in Haelah, Hutch and Kathy, and Urban Legends. , who lives in Chico, Calif., placed Driscoll in a nursing home near her - 500 miles north of Glendale and away from her friends, Barnes said.
Foster, who was raised by Driscoll after Foster's mother died, said she knows her aunt and Barnes have been dating for years. But she said she wonders why Barnes waited to marry Driscoll until she suffered from Alzheimer's.
``If she wanted to marry him, why didn't they get married when she was lucid? Why did he have to kidnap her?'' said Foster.
The 45-year-old social worker called the marriage and huge legal fees ``a family tragedy.''
Foster said the fees have whittled her aunt's $600,000 estate to a mere $65,000. A young woman during the Depression, Driscoll never would have allowed money she worked for to be lost to attorneys, Foster said.
``She was doing great in Northern California Northern California, sometimes referred to as NorCal, is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The region contains the San Francisco Bay Area, the state capital, Sacramento; as well as the substantial natural beauty of the redwood forests, the northern . She loved my two children. She was a second mom to me. Now she wouldn't even know who I am,'' Foster said, adding that she stepped down as Driscoll's conservator conservator n. a guardian and protector appointed by a judge to protect and manage the financial affairs and/or the person's daily life due to physical or mental limitations or old age. in 1997. A single working mom, Foster could not afford to fight to get her aunt back to Chico.
A mechanical engineer worth $1 million himself, Barnes said he had no interest in consuming what was left of Driscoll's dwindling dwin·dle
v. dwin·dled, dwin·dling, dwin·dles
To become gradually less until little remains.
To cause to dwindle. See Synonyms at decrease. estate. But he believed she was unhappy in Northern California.
A former beautician, Driscoll always tended to her nails and her hair. But not in Chico, he said. There she seemed to give up on life, he said.
So at 92, Barnes pulled off a stealth mission of taking her out to lunch in Chico and bringing her back to Glendale. The two were married by Driscoll's longtime preacher, the Rev. Jack Dabner, on Sept. 9, 1997.
The legal battle began in October 1997 when papers were filed in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. Superior Court that said Driscoll was incompetent incompetent adj. 1) referring to a person who is not able to manage his/her affairs due to mental deficiency (lack of I.Q., deterioration, illness or psychosis) or sometimes physical disability. to marry Barnes.
Barnes' intention, after the 1997 ceremony, was to place Driscoll in a Glendale nursing home where she could be cared for, yet close to the people who love her.
That's when Barnes was threatened with jail and $30,000 in court costs court costs n. fees for expenses that the courts pass on to attorneys, who then pass them on to their clients or, in some kinds of cases, to the losing party. for relocating Driscoll. Barnes also was ordered to stay away from her unless granted permission by her conservators.
But Glendale Superior Court Judge Charles Lee Charles Lee may refer to:
Having the annulment proceeding dismissed is likely the last chapter of Barnes' longtime battle to stay with the woman he loves, and who loves him.
``This was a case of nightmares and miracles,'' said Linda Paquette, Barnes' attorney through most of his legal wranglings.
``I lost more than a few nights sleep after the police called to say there was a warrant for Charles' arrest. I was convinced Charles was going to jail,'' said Paquette.
Instead they will celebrate their union today at a party Dabner is hosting. He calls the couple's journey ``an old-time love story.''
On a recent afternoon, Driscoll, wearing the new, bright red dress bought for today's celebration, fiddled with the butterfly scarf and wondered when she would get some ice cream.
She craned her neck around the corner, where Barnes readied for lunch. When asked what she thought about her husband, Driscoll stared intensely and summed him up in two sentences: ``He's a good man. He looks out for you.''
Photo: (1--Color) Connie Driscoll, 86, and Charles Barnes, 94, are belatedly be·lat·ed
Having been delayed; done or sent too late: a belated birthday card.
[be- + lated. celebrating their marriage.
(2--Color) Connie Driscoll and Charles Barnes talk about the 50-year friendship that led to their marriage.
Charlotte Schmid-Maybach/Staff Photographer