Welty Compton and Lauren McTague are not super superstitious, but they're not about to tempt fate either. Certain rituals seem to work in their favor. Compton won't fish without his lucky visor, and a stash of Nutter Butters on board wards off ill winds. Don't even think about boarding his boat with a banana. Not even a banana muffin, thanks to an old seafarer's myth. As for McTague, it's the No. 4 that always seems to win for her. Her lucky number turned up again when Compton slipped his great-grandmother's diamond ring on her finger. Would she be the fourth Mrs. Compton to wear the family jewel?
Compton and McTague felt connected almost the minute they started dating. It would take an Excel spreadsheet to list all the links between the South Tampa natives.
"It's a small big town,'' said Compton, 28, a crew chief at ValleyCrest Landscape Co.
Their maternal grandfathers, Nick Sakkis, 92, and Hugo Schmidt, 89, were students at Plant High in the 1930s.
McTague's mother, Patty Sakkis McTague, went through elementary, junior and high school with Compton's twin uncles, Booker and Hugo Schmidt Jr. She has a Mitchell Elementary first-grade class picture to back that up.
Three years before the couple met, Compton's twin cousins, Amy and Beth Schmidt, were randomly assigned McTague's freshman suitemates at Florida State University.
And 30 years before that, the mother of those twins, Juli Schmidt, was Patty McTague's Kappa Delta sorority sister at FSU.
Coincidence? McTague and Compton think not. They call them connections. And they are the next link in the chain.
Even Welty's name is an heirloom, inherited from his great-grandfather, Welty Edmund Compton and his grandfather Welty Yancey Compton.
His father's twin, older by five minutes, got it for a middle name: Robert Welty Compton. As did Welty, whose full name is Thomas Welty Compton.
"Other than my uncle, I've never met another person with that name," he said. "I don't know the origin but it's very rare, that's for sure."
The origin of the ring is better known.
Frances Yancey was the first bride, betrothed to Welty E. Compton on Sept. 7, 1904. McTague took note of the date — Sept. 7 is the wedding day of her maternal grandparents (1941) and her parents (1974).
Margaret Francis Carlton, known as Francis, wore it next, wed to Welty Y. Compton, in 1929.
She gave it to one of their sons, Bill, when he married Mary Lou Schmidt in 1973. Then she wore it for 35 years before giving it to their son, Welty, to give to McTague.
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McTague, now 29, fell for the Eagle Scout on their first date in December 2002 when he showed her how to aim and shoot a rifle on a dove hunt in Dade City. She still has the cardboard bulls-eye target Compton shot that day.
Football is their shared passion, specifically her alma mater's Seminoles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. McTague manages the team's luxury suites.
Game schedules dictate their schedules, says McTague, whose parents met at FSU and have rarely missed a game since.
Compton, who graduated from Florida Southern, is such a 'Noles fan that whatever shirt he's wearing when they win their first game becomes his uniform that season — even when watching at home.
Three places you'd find this couple: stadiums, boat docks and weddings. At least two dozen weddings in the years they dated, says McTague.
Until November 2008 every bride's bouquet seemed to be aimed straight at her.
Two days before Thanksgiving, she said, the couple went to lunch and then went off separately to run errands. She had no idea that Compton's mission was to ask her father for permission to propose.
A few hours later, back at her house in Virginia Park, Compton seemed awfully interested in dinner. Each time he asked where she'd like to go, she reminded him they'd eaten a very big lunch.
"But where should we go to celebrate," he asked, sinking onto one knee to slip on the "Welty" ring.
In his remarks at their April 24 wedding at Hyde Park Methodist Church, the Rev. Bernie Lieving Jr. noted the newlyweds' families' track record for long and happy marriages. Dinner and dancing followed at the Tampa Yacht Club before Mr. and Mrs. Compton boated off to a downtown hotel to begin their honeymoon.
And continue their lucky streak.
Heart Beat is a summer series that features recent intriguing stories of love and marriage. Amy Scherzer can be reached at (813) 226-3332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.