Two U.S. Marine offspring getting married
We recently visited with Donna Thorpe, who by the time you read this will be Donna Thorpe Keyes.
That’s because on Saturday, she became the bride of Glenn Keyes. Before we talked about the wedding, though, we talked with Donna about her dad, Ray, who served his country during three wars and was a U.S. Marine for 30 years.
“I was born in the naval hospital in Philadelphia,” said Donna, who is 48. “I was a military brat from the get-go.”
Like most military families, Donna lived in many places.
“We lived all over the country and in Southern California for a lot of years,” she said. “Dad was a mechanic and electrician and he taught electronics too. He was also a pilot and during WWII he was a crew chief on a big cargo plane that delivered supplies to the troops. He saw a lot of the war.”
Ray Thorpe enlisted in the U.S. Marines “the day after Pearl Harbor” on Dec. 8, 1941. He flew transports during the Korean War and was also a helicopter pilot.
“During the Vietnam war dad flew to places like Laos and Cambodia as part of a special top-secret CIA/Air America operation,” said Donna as she showed me a photo of her dad. “He taught Laotian pilots how to fly our choppers.”
Between Korea and Vietnam, her dad did “something very special” and was one of the first to do so.
“Dad was most proud of – he was specially picked for it – being a part of Operation Deep Freeze,” said Donna proudly. “He went down to Antarctica when they first explored it. No one had ever been there before. That was in 1955-56 and they explored it for military purposes. That’s where they rescued that female scientist from a couple of months ago.”
Donna has one older sister, Pam. She lives in Sparks with husband, Herb, and their 12-year old daughter, Roni.
“My mom, Jane, was a good military wife,” added Donna. “She passed away four years ago at age 71 from a rare blood disease.”
Donna came to Nevada a dozen years ago. After college she went to work as a mental-health worker in Southern California. Eighteen years later she came here and went to work at Carson-Tahoe Hospital at the Life Stress Center.
“My parents had already moved here in May of 1986 and I followed in 1987,” she said. “After the service dad worked as a letter carrier for 20 years in Costa Mesa (Calif.) and then retired here. I retired from Carson-Tahoe Hospital in July of 1998 to spend time with my dad. His health was declining and I wanted to spend some quality time with him.”
TWO MILITARY BRATS
Donna and Glenn met on July 11 (a lucky date, 7/11) and found out they have more in common than they thought.
Some of you may remember Glenn from a Street Talk we did with him some six years ago, or the one we did earlier this year after his dad, David, passed away on Jan. 9.
David was a U.S. Marine for more than 30 years. He also served in three wars – the same as Ray – and retired to Carson City. David was also known around town for the big yellow bus he converted into a motor home and drove all over Carson City.
(You can see David and that bus tonight on the Street Talk TV Show we taped a couple of years ago. David showed us around his home and gives us a tour of the bus on the show, which is on CAT-10 at 6 p.m. Repeats Monday at 8 a.m.)
By the way, David was buried with full military honors at the Veteran’s Cemetery in Fernley.
Anyway, back to Donna and Glenn. They became engaged on Labor Day weekend.
“Glenn asked my dad’s permission to marry me,” said Donna. “Dad said ‘Yes’ right away.”
They didn’t know it at the time but later found out that Donna’s dad and Glenn’s dad knew each other. That was a pleasant surprise for both of them.
“We had no idea they knew each other,” added Donna. “We didn’t find out until a few months ago.”
The couple was married at St. Paul’s Lutheran Family Church in Carson City on Saturday. For a reception following at the Ormsby House, part of the invitation read “Mr. Raymond W. Thorpe requests your presence at the marriage of his daughter Donna to Glenn,” but then things changed.
“Sadly, after the wedding invitations were done and sent, Dad died,” said Donna quietly. “He was 77 and died of heart failure at home on Sept. 26th. I’m sure Glenn’s parents and mine have front-row seats for the wedding. One of the last things Dad said to me was, ‘Don’t cancel the wedding for any reason.’ So we decided to go on with it. He wanted it that way.”
Glenn, 51, is a retired auto mechanic and a friend I’ve known for more than 10 years – he’s the one who kept my ’78 Toyota patched up and running well past its expiration date. I asked Donna what the heck she saw in him.
“His sense of humor, his kindness and the fact our backgrounds were so much alike,” she replied cheerfully. “He came into my life at a time when I needed someone in my life. I wasn’t looking for a relationship. We’re both very blessed.”
This is not the first marriage for either, but it is the “last one” for both and they planned for more than 200 friends and relatives at their wedding and reception.
“We’ll honeymoon later by taking a cruise to Panama,” noted Donna. “We both like spending time together.”
I do want to mention that Ray was cremated with full military honors, and Glenn and Donna will scatter his ashes over Lake Tahoe in the spring.
“That’s where my mom’s at,” said Donna.
No, we’re not talking about his courtship and marriage proposal to Donna.
We’re talking about Glenn, and many of you may have seen him race his 1998 Monte Carlo in late-model stock car races at Silver State Speedway and in the Tri-state series.
“Glenn races at our local track and in Northern California and will start his third year of racing in April,” said Donna. “His car is No. 25 and I go to his races and help out in the pit. I’m still learning. It’s fun. I like it.”
For the record, Glenn’s best finish was fifth in a race but he has “won a few” trophy dashes during his first two years of racing.
Time to go, so I wished Donna the best of luck. And I hope she and Glenn have a long and happy life together.
ALAN ROGERS is a Nevada Appeal columnist. His message phone is 887-2430, ext. 402.