Monday, December 18, 2017
News Roundup

From This Day: Safe harbor, a year later

Editor's note: A year ago From This Day debuted in Floridian. Today we revisit the first couple whose wedding was featured.

POMPANO BEACH

Calum and Lisa Benson Woolner haven't left the country for a year, but they're not complaining.

Other than Calum's occasional Bahamas runs on an employer's super yacht, and a few trips to St. Petersburg to see Lisa's parents, the couple is content to stay put, reveling in being on the same continent.

"Watching TV with my best friend at the end of a long day is wonderful," said Lisa. "And cooking for two is more fun than for one."

Just knowing Calum can travel as he pleases, pleases her.

On May 29, 2011, the Woolners' tale of love overcoming bureaucracy launched a new feature, From This Day . . ., in the Tampa Bay Times, then called the St. Petersburg Times.

Nearly every Sunday since, newlyweds have shared details of the romantic route — usually bumpy, often detoured — that led to their walk down the aisle.

Exhibit No. 1: the immigration nightmare that halted Lisa and Calum's wedding and kept them apart for 16 months.

On the first anniversary of the series, we wondered what revelations married life held for them.

"Well," said Lisa, "I thought I married a British gentleman, but it turns out I married an American redneck."

She laughs, clicking through a mental checklist.

Giant Dodge truck? Check.

Three dogs? Check.

Shooting practice at the gun range? Check.

"He's as American as any guy I know,'' Lisa said. "Having a man around again took some getting used to."

The pair rent a home in Pompano Beach, south of the Palm Beach residence where Calum tends a 112-foot yacht and Boynton Beach, where Lisa is a therapist in an inpatient substance abuse facility. Both turned 30 in December.

It didn't take much for Calum to get his wife to share his new interests. She joins him at the dog park, mountain biking, shooting at the range, "learning not to shake like a leaf," she said.

The two first met in Australia, aboard the Sorcha in March 2007. Ship's mate Calum took note when Lisa arrived as a nanny with friends of his boss, the yacht's owner.

Imagine their shock — and delight — six months later, when they bumped into each other outside the Independent bar in downtown St. Petersburg.

The British sailor fell for the Florida lass as he continued his shipboard work in her home port. She pursued a second degree in social work at the University of South Florida. They became a trio when they adopted a Victorian bulldog puppy, Thatcher.

"Little did we know he would become my lifesaver and sleep next to me every night when Calum was kept away," said Lisa.

Two more puppies have since joined their family: Ronin, an Old English bulldog, and Poppy, an English bulldog.

Calum proposed on a January 2009 ski trip, and wedding plans moved full speed ahead. The date, March 13, 2010, would be exactly three years to the day after their meeting on the Sorcha.

That symmetry meant nothing to a Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport customs agent trying to do his job for Homeland Security.

His questioning of Calum's visa upon their return from a trip to London and Paris in July 2009 marked the start of a year-and-a-half separation. After a night in the Dallas jail, Calum was flown to Manchester, England.

Salting the injury of being denied entry, the agent added a five-year ban when Calum argued that private yacht personnel and cruise industry crew were to be treated differently by immigration. His fiancee had no choice but to return alone to St. Petersburg.

The wedding was off; immigration lawyers were on. Daily Skype calls sufficed for hugs. Advised that a marriage certificate might expedite a green card, the couple met in St. Lucia to marry Sept. 10, 2009.

A week later they flew in opposite directions, Calum to work in ports in southern Europe and the Seychelles, Lisa to finish a second bachelor's degree and begin a master's at USF. Not until October 2010 did the U.S. Embassy approve Calum's green card.

Love and patience won out. Mr. and Mrs. Woolner renewed their vows last year at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort.

Suitcases are stowed for now, but passports are up to date and dogsitting friends at the ready.

Amy Scherzer can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3332.

Comments
Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky

Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky

The announcement was rolled out to the world as a pledge. A promise.In March 2016 SeaWorld declared it would end killer whale breeding, making the orcas in its care in the United States and abroad its last generation to live in captivity.Later that y...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

Atlanta airport power outage cancels 1,000 flights; more Delta cancellations Monday

ATLANTA — A sudden power outage brought the world’s busiest airport to a standstill Sunday, grounding more than 1,000 flights in Atlanta just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush. Authorities announced that electricity would be restored...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

Bucs-Falcons: Things to watch in Monday’s 8:30 p.m. game

TAMPA — The Bucs and Falcons have each won three straight games on Monday nights as they face each other on a national platform tonight at Raymond James Stadium.How can Tampa Bay continue its streak and stop Atlanta’s? It won’t be easy, but given the...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Bitcoin futures begin trading on CME, price little changed

NEW YORK — Another security based on the price of bitcoin, the digital currency that has soared in value and volatility this year, began trading on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Sunday. The CME Group, which owns the exchange, opened up bitcoin f...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Woman shot and killed in apparent drive-by shooting in Clearwater

CLEARWATER — A woman was shot to death Sunday night in an apparent drive-by shooting, according to Clearwater police.Authorities said they received an initial call at 8:19 p.m. originating from 800 Belleair Road. The shooting is believed to have occu...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

Bucs fans call for Jon Gruden — why was he fired to begin with?

TAMPA — The beers and the "love ya, bros" were flowing Saturday night at the Hooters in Tampa. Jon Gruden, who will be inducted into the Bucs Ring of Honor at halftime of tonight’s home game against the Falcons, worked the room, greeting family, frie...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

Fennelly: Jon Gruden was one hard-working bro

TAMPA — It’s ridiculous that it took this long to give Jon Gruden a night all his own, given the nights he gave Bucs fans. But it will happen this evening at Raymond James Stadium, a salute to the thermonuclear source of that Super Bowl season, that ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts rolls 100-foot-long joint; McCain likely to miss tax bill vote; Cherokee Nation’s fear of losing heritage drives opioid lawsuit; more in U.S. news

Massachusetts Rolling a fat one — 100 feet longMarijuana aficionados have rolled a 100-foot-long joint. The effort was led by Boston-based cannabis club and advocacy group Beantown Greentown during an exhibition of pro-marijuana vendors and supporter...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

Trump says he isn’t considering firing Mueller

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller even as his administration was again forced to grapple with the growing Russia inquiry that has shadowed the White House for much of his ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Friendly competition

Friendly competition

 
Updated: 9 hours ago