True Love Stories: They’ve been making sweet music together since 1953 |

True Love Stories: They’ve been making sweet music together since 1953

In 1953, as a junior at Ithaca College in upstate New York and an aspiring composer, I wrote a piece for the college musical. The producers wanted to hear the music, so I approached the orchestra director and asked if a few orchestra members would stay after the rehearsal to make a recording.

During the recording session, I noticed a very cute little fiddle player and, after some detective work, found out her name, Nelle Doak, and residence, across the street from where I was living.

Later that afternoon I went to a phone booth – didn’t want the guys to hear me get turned down – deposited a nickel and asked her to a movie. Surprisingly, she said yes, and that evening, I took her to a very romantic movie featuring giant, man-eating ants.

In spite of this rather inauspicious introduction, we were married on Sept. 10, 1955, and look forward to celebrating our 55th wedding anniversary this year with our children, grandchildren and the many good friends we have made since moving to Nevada in 1992. The composition in question was pretty bad and never performed, yet remains my most important work.

Today, we live with our cat, Antonio Stradivari, Tony for short, and our dog, Charlee, in Douglas County on a hillside overlooking the beautiful Carson Valley.

Nelle is an award-winning violin maker and I am a successful, published composer of music for young string players. We are founding directors – 1992 – of the Carson Valley Violin School, Carson Valley Sinfonia and Carson Valley Violins, the only full-service string shop between Reno and Las Vegas.

John O’Neill