More than four decades after they met as volunteers at a Minneapolis drop-in center, a newspaper story about homelessness led to marriage for a Twin Cities couple.
Social worker Doreen Marie Donovan was among those featured in a September 2013 Star Tribune story for her work in the Catholic Charities Housing First program, targeting the most frequent users of emergency homeless shelters.
Among those who saw the story was Donovan’s long-lost beau Larry Von Berg, who now works at the Courage Center helping patients develop independent-living skills.
His attempts to find her were fruitless because he didn’t realize she had taken to using her middle name. Armed with that information, he sent Donovan a friend request on Facebook. After she accepted, he received an e-mail she had sent him a year before but that he couldn’t read because they weren’t Facebook “friends” at the time.
Six weeks later, they met for a date at a Pannekoeken Huis in St. Louis Park. Von Berg said he was initially hesitant to contact Donovan and wasn’t expecting much to come of it until “one date led to another.”
“She was so nice, and we seemed to like each other more and more,” he said.
The couple, both now 64, were married earlier this month. He was married briefly when he was 50, while Donovan was a lifelong singleton.
They dated in their mid-20s when he was a VISTA volunteer in Kansas City and she was doing the same in Louisiana, but it didn’t last. “I thought I wasn’t ready for commitment, and she felt the same way,” Von Berg said.
Over the years, each wondered about the other, but until the Internet, they had little ability to find each other.
Donovan said she came to regret losing Von Berg, and also assumed that he had moved on. In the past year, the dormant attraction came right back. The bride, who wore purple, will take Von Berg’s name. He has moved into her house.
Of their rediscovered love and marriage, Donovan said, “Why not? Give life a chance.”