Long awaited love is fulfilled

Family Living Editor

Register/Jenelle Johnson
On Jan. 2, Deborah Anderson and Richard Kester will be married at Fountain Villa. Members of the bridal party are, from left, Jodie Monsour, owner of Fountain Villa, Anderson, Kester and Teresa LaCrone, Fountain Villa assistant director.

Looking at the big smile on Debbie Anderson’s face a person wouldn’t suspect that less than a year ago she was struggling to live through each day.
Anderson was in an unhealthy relationship, had double pneumonia and was anemic. By the time she went into the hospital her tiny frame had withered to 60 pounds.
Feeling her situation was hopeless, she asked for help from Hope Unlimited and the Resource Center for Independent Living. Case workers stepped up to secure a room at Fountain Villa for Anderson to recuperate while she severed ties with her past.
“If it wasn’t for the staff at Fountain Villa, I would have died,” Anderson said.
Anderson credits staff members and owner Jodie Monsour with her physical and emotional recovery. During the seven months at the facility she not only gained 33 pounds, but took back control of her life.
“It is hard for me to stop smiling,” she said. “Today I not only have a loving home but in a few weeks will marry my sweetheart from my teenage years and the father of my son.”
Anderson was 16 and her fiance, Richard Kester, was 23 when their son, Timothy Gilbert Kester, was born.
“When my mom found out about Richard and the baby, she forbade me to see him again,” she said.
Out of rebellion she married another man and left her home in Illinois to move to Kansas. Throughout the years the marriage deteriorated. The couple are now divorced.
The binding tie between Anderson and Kester has always been their son.
“Debbie and I would talk every now and again over the phone to discuss our son. It was Timothy who called to tell me how ill Debbie was. I called to see how she was and it was through phone conversations that we rekindled our love,” Kester said.
“Richard even proposed to me over the phone,” she said.
In October, Kester, who was still living in Illinois, paid a surprise visit to Anderson who was nearing her release from Fountain Villa.
Kester drove all night to get to Iola and arrived at about 4 a.m. He called the Villa for directions to the facility and was detained in the parking lot while police verified his relationship to Anderson.
“Richard is such a good man. He never yells at me and makes me feel so safe,” Anderson said.
In anticipation of marrying the love of his life, Kester rented an apartment and in November moved to Iola.
On Thanksgiving, Anderson made a holiday feast for herself and Kester in their new home.

THE COUPLE will be married at 2 p.m. on Jan. 2 in front of the fireplace at Fountain Villa.
“We wanted to be married at the Villa because this is where we were reunited after 30 long years,” she said.
In Anderson’s eyes, her wedding will be a family affair. The couple’s son will stand as best man for his father, and Anderson asked Monsour if he would give her away.
“I was honored when Debbie asked me to be a part of her wedding. I am so happy that she considers Fountain Villa and the staff part of her family,” Monsour said.
The Rev. Gene McIntosh will perform the ceremony, and Teresa LaCrone, assistant director, will bake the wedding cake and help with the decorations.
Of course, the residents are invited to celebrate the occasion, Anderson said.
On Jan. 2, Anderson, 46, Kester, 53, and their son, Timothy, 30, will at last become a family.