A tale of two couples: Southern Illinois sweethearts share their love stories

By Jacob Lorenz, Staff Reporter

Whether you are 17 or 70, southern Illinois is a hub of love.

Two southern Illinois couples shared their love stories with the Daily Egyptian.

Katherine Shew, a senior studying photography and Raymond Smothers, a senior studying computer science, got engaged two years ago and have been high school sweethearts since their senior year at Benton. 

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Shew said they met through a mutual friend’s birthday party. She said when Raymond walked through the door it was over from there. 

Shew and Smothers said they knew each other in high school but didn’t talk, even though her best friend was his cousin. 

“His cousin years ago said ‘you should meet my cousin, Raymond, I think you’d like him.’ And I said no, because he played football, and I don’t date football players,” Shew said. 

What got her to laugh and kicked off their relationship was a joke he made about his cousin at that party, Smothers said.

“I don’t remember [the joke] but I do remember it was grape soda that she almost spit out,” Smothers said. 

Shew and Smothers said they got engaged a year earlier than planned.

Shew’s last living grandparent has Alzheimer’s, so Raymond decided to propose earlier than expected so Shew could tell her grandmother and she would remember. 

 Smothers said he was planning on waiting until fall, Shew favorite season, but decided to spring the question on their anniversary. 

When Smothers initially asked Shew to marry him, she said no. Smothers said she was saying “no” like you would if you were surprised. 

“Knowing her personality I was totally prepared for that, so I said, ‘is that your final answer?’’ Smothers said. 

Shew and Smothers plan to get married in the fall of 2021. 

Skipping a couple generations but with a similar beginning is Diana Andrews, 78, and Daryl Meier, 79. They are both residents of Murphysboro and have been married for seven years. 

Andrews and Meier are both widowers and were introduced through a mutual friend, just like Shew and Smothers. 

Meier said they both like to dance and met on a dance floor because of their mutual friend, a musician. 

They each have their own home, Andrews in Carbondale and Meier in Murphysboro, but the couple lives together. 

“Her house is more convenient for our day-to-day activities,” Meier said. 

Andrews and Meier are both retired and regularly attend The Ridge Church in Carbondale, where they also got married. They both attended SIU for their education. 

Andrews was a procedures and systems planner at SIU for 20 years and Meier is a blacksmith. 

In the early 1990s Meier met the President of the United States and presented him with a knife he made. 

“Literally I was in the right place at the right time once in my lifetime, well, three times for my two wives,” Meier said. 

Meier said the governor of Illinois at the time, Jim Thompson, saw an article about Meier at the Du Quoin state fair. He said Gov. Thompson liked to have Illinois craftsmen make things for his delegates. 

When the governor asked Meier what kind of project he would like to do, Meier asked if he could make something and present it to President George H. W. Bush. 

Thompson agreed and local blacksmith Daryl Meier made a knife celebrating President Bush’s inauguration. 

Andrews said the couple doesn’t have anything in particular planned for Valentine’s Day, but they plan to spend it at Meier’s home in Murphysboro. 

Staff reporter Jacob Lorenz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jtlorenz6.

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