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Aug. 28, 1953: The trouble a girl can get into

Posted by: Ben Welter under Minnesota History Updated: February 24, 2012 - 12:21 PM
 
Marrying at age 14 is dicey business. Not waiting for your first husband to be declared dead before marrying the next guy who comes along is dicier still. In this page one story, a South Dakota teen explained how she ended up in such a fix after Husband No. 1, reported as missing in action in Korea, turned out to be very much alive.
 

S.D. POW ‘Returns From Dead’; Results: One Wife, 2 Husbands

 
By ROBERT T. SMITH
Minneapolis Tribune Staff Writer

Copyright, 1953, by the Minneapolis
Star and Tribune Company
 
A 17-year-old Mitchell, S.D., girl who remarried while her husband was a prisoner of war in Korea, Thursday night said, “I don’t know which way to turn.”
 
Brown-haired Mrs. Avis N. Meier, reached by telephone at South Bend, Ind., said she is not sure she will go back to either husband.
 
“It’s all a mess and I’m confused,” she said.
 
Mrs. Meier said she married Cpl. Ralph W. Meier, 26, Mitchell, S.D., Nov. 8, 1950, when she was 14. Eight days later Meier entered the army, leaving his wife at home.
 
 
  Wife or no wife, Cpl. Ralph W. Meier was happy to be back in the United States.
Meier was sent to Korea Sept. 10, 1951, and less than four months later was taken prisoner. However, he was reported officially as missing in action.
 
“I thought he was dead,” Mrs. Meier said last night. “I’m still not sure he’s alive. I won’t be until I see him.”
 
Meier was released Wednesday night in the Korean prisoner of war exchange. He does not know his wife remarried.
 
Mrs. Meier, an office employe of a Mitchell taxicab company, said she married Herald Kapsch, 31, a cab driver for the same firm, last March 3 – 14 months after her husband was reported missing.
 
Two weeks later she got word that her first husband was still alive. When the wounded prisoners were exchanged in Korea before the end of hostilities, two of the POWs wrote her that Meier was a prisoner in North Korea.
 
“I was flabbergasted,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
 
Mrs. Meier said her second husband knew “all about” the first husband. She said they had talked it over and decided to get married.
 
“I had a feeling inside that Ralph was dead,” she said. “I didn’t know how long they were going to report him as missing. How did we know he would ever be found?”
 
The young girl who has to decide between two men or decide against them both, said “the whole story has not been told and probably will never be made public.”
 
She declined to explain further.
 
Kapsch, the second husband, filed annulment proceedings on June 1 and the annulment was final July 3.
 
Last night Kapsch said he and Mrs. Meier were married by a justice of the peace at Luverne, Minn.
 
When asked if they had to show proof that Mrs. Meier’s first husband was dead, he said:
 
“Nobody asked us.”
 
Kapsch said he wants Mrs. Meier back.
 
 “I still love her and I think she still loves me,” he said. “When the corporal gets back we’ll get together and straighten this whole deal out.”
 
Kapsch said he got the annulment not because of any estrangement but for “strictly legal reasons.”
 
Kapsch said Mr. Meier received three letters from the government saying her husband was missing and “there are no clues to his whereabouts.”
 
Mrs. Meier said she did not receive official word that her husband was dead, “but I got some letters that convinced me.”
 
Mrs. Meier would not commit herself on her future. “I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve got a lot of problems. I’m going back to South Dakota to iron out things.”
 
She said: “I hardly remember my first husband, it’s been so long. I want to see him again.”
 
Recently Mrs. Meier has been living with an uncle, Noel Pixley, at South Bend.
 
“The trouble a girl can get into,” she said. “It’s terrible.”
 
The confusion was resolved a few months later. An Associated Press story published in Midwestern newspapers on Oct. 28, 1953, reported the outcome:
 
MITCHELL, S.D. (AP) – The young former wife of a released Korean war prisoner remarried her second husband late Monday, three days after being divorced from the ex-soldier she had earlier believed to be dead.
 
Avis N. Meier, 18, last week divorced Ralph Meier, White Lake, who charged mental cruelty. Last July, after Meier had been listed as missing for 18 months, Avis married Herald F. Kapsch, 32, Mitchell. She said she thought Meier was dead.
 
When it was learned that Meier was a prisoner of war, Avis and Kapsch had their marriage annulled. Meier did not learn of his wife's second marriage until he returned to the United States.
 
 

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