2006.08.26: August 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Marriage: Spokesman-Review: Ghana RPCV Betsy Suhre goes from a personals ad to a 20-year marriage

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Ghana: Peace Corps Ghana : The Peace Corps in Ghana: 2006.08.26: August 26, 2006: Headlines: COS - Ghana: Marriage: Spokesman-Review: Ghana RPCV Betsy Suhre goes from a personals ad to a 20-year marriage

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Ghana RPCV Betsy Suhre goes from a personals ad to a 20-year marriage

Ghana RPCV Betsy Suhre goes from a personals ad to a 20-year marriage

"Mike Bullard, adventurer to Alaska and its salmon spawning grounds, keeper of the sheep yet in their watchful care, maker of melodic diversions and crafter of ideas, and Betsy Suhre, trekker to Machu Picchu's heights, teacher and student of West Africa's Ghanaian culture, player of string and weaver of words, wish you to share with us the celebration of our marriage."

Ghana RPCV Betsy Suhre goes from a personals ad to a 20-year marriage


Aug 26, 2006


"Strong, gentle, open-minded professional seeks intelligent, assertive lady to start family with shared responsibilities. Signed, Confidential #850."

Something about the succinct personals ad in the March 1986 edition of Indianapolis Magazine struck a responsive chord in Betsy Suhre. She didn't waste any time responding. She drafted a generic response, personalized it and sent it out to #850 and half a dozen other hopefuls; met all six "delightful" bachelors for six one-time dates, and decided Mike Bullard, #850, was to be the father of her sons. The sooner the better.

Betsy and Mike didn't waste any time. Their first date was on April 26, the typical all-day canoe trip featuring sandwiches on the riverbank. Three days later, their second date was dinner with Betsy's gourmet club at the home of the president of Ball State University, where Betsy worked. Seventy-two hours later, their third date centered around a meal of rice and ground-nut stew, staples of Ghana, West Africa, where Betsy had served in the Peace Corps. A pattern was quickly established. The next date, only the end of week one, was, of course, another dinner, this time at Mike's home with eight people from his church congregation.

Mike served sunfish he'd caught that afternoon in a lake just outside Plainfield, Ind.

Five weeks from the day they met, sitting beside a parishioner's swimming pool, Mike proposed, pulling out all the romantic stops. "Let's do it," he suggested. And on the spot, Betsy pulled out of her purse the wedding invitation she'd just drafted. It read, "Mike Bullard, adventurer to Alaska and its salmon spawning grounds, keeper of the sheep yet in their watchful care, maker of melodic diversions and crafter of ideas, and Betsy Suhre, trekker to Machu Picchu's heights, teacher and student of West Africa's Ghanaian culture, player of string and weaver of words, wish you to share with us the celebration of our marriage."

Mike, defending their whirlwind courtship and three-week-long engagement, says, "We were both around 40 years old, we both wanted kids right away, and we weren't afraid to tell each other what we wanted."

The couple quickly broke the remaining dates they'd scheduled with others through the personal ads, and put together not one but two weddings. The first, for their friends and family in the East and Midwest, took place at Hope Presbyterian Church in Plainfield, where Mike was then pastor. There was no time for a rehearsal, as Mike had to officiate at another wedding and Betsy, a violinist, was performing in a symphony concert the night before her own wedding. After an unmapped, three-week-long honeymoon that included climbing Mount Hood and touring the World's Fair in Vancouver, B.C., they held a "repetition of vows and joining of families" at the home of Betsy's mother in Monument, Colo.
Both families were present at both weddings. Betsy wore the same dress her mother had worn in 1938 and her sister had in 1969.

Keeping their shared dream of instant family close, Betsy gave birth to their son, Harrison, just 11 months after the wedding, and Daniel followed soon after. Between births Betsy underwent surgery on her jaw and the installation of braces on her teeth, so for the first couple of years of marriage, Mike recalls, his beautiful bride was pregnant and in braces.

The Bullards have lived in Coeur d'Alene since 1993, when Mike was called to be the pastor of First Presbyterian Church. Their sons, who were 5 and 6 years old at the time of the move, were convinced they were moving to Silverwood, where the family had vacationed.

Although not a theme park, their parklike yard reflects their interests in beautifying the world around them. They describe themselves as scavengers. Betsy says, "We both have funny taste in anything used or homemade. We're ad-lib people. Our house, our yard, our wardrobes are all put together from things we've scavenged. We make do with what we've got." Mike adds, "Betsy keeps things. Everything! She doesn't throw anything out, even if it's old and worn out. It gives me a certain sense of security, being somewhat old and worn out myself."

The Bullards would've celebrated their 20th anniversary this summer, but June 29 found Betsy in India, on a mission adventure with some church members. Having had two weddings, they have double the opportunities to celebrate, and Mike, an inventive practical joker, never passes up a chance to celebrate special occasions in creative, unusual ways. Reminiscing at their backyard picnic table about past Mothers' Days and birthdays still produces giggles in both of them.

Mike and Betsy have carved out lives of serving and building community - Mike as pastor and singer, and Betsy through work with the area symphonies, arts commissions, and now as a counselor with Aging and Adult Services. The church has been at the center of their lives together, and continues to provide the foundation of a fun- loving, spontaneous relationship.

From a personals ad to a 20-year marriage. Mike concludes, "We hadn't known each other a long time before we were married, but we'd known ourselves a long time. We share common goals and similar faiths. We both knew what we wanted and we recognized it when we found it."

When this story was posted in October 2006, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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