1. Archive

War, wedding and a reunion

Allied bombers were pounding Sicily, the Swiss were reporting that Mussolini was being stripped of his power and invasion preparations were being made from one end of the Mediterranean to the other on June 19, 1943.

But for a few hours, some folks in St. Petersburg put the war behind them as they celebrated the marriage of Patricia "Pinky" Withers Parker to Lt. Herbert Hansen at St. Peter's Episcopal Church.

This past weekend, fifty years later, many of these same people _ including the five bridesmaids _ gathered in St. Petersburg to commemorate the golden anniversary of the Hansens and to reminisce about the old St. Petersburg.

Parker, who grew up here and attended local schools, was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Kentucky when she met Hansen. He was a marine engineer serving as a training officer at the Maritime base established in St. Petersburg during World War II.

The bride's best friend was Julia Ruth Flanders, daughter of New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth, who came from New York City to be Miss Parker's matron of honor. The two met when Babe Ruth trained in St. Petersburg during the spring training season.

Daryl Mahan, Jane Fowler, Mary Jackson and Dot Lanier were bridesmaids. They were gowned in aquamarine marquisette and carried bouquets of pale pink carnations in the 4:30 p.m. ceremony.

We know this and other tidbits from the St. Petersburg Times of the day, which covered weddings in exacting detail:

"The bride, given in marriage by her father, wore a billowing gown of white organdy with bateau neckline, full bishop sleeves and full skirt. The neckline and skirt top were trimmed with eyelet embroidered medallions and her fingertip veil and face veil of illusion fell from a tiara of orange blossoms. She wore a strand of pearls, the gift of the bridegroom, and carried a bridal bouquet of white carnations centered with a purple-throated white orchid showered with stephenotis."

The bride's ring belonged to Mr. Hansen's great-grandmother.

Throughout their marriage the Hansens have lived in New Orleans, where Hansen, now retired, worked in the shipping business.

They have visited her former home and friends in St. Petersburg often, so when it came time to make plans for their 50th anniversary, they decided to celebrate it in the city where they met and married. Since the Suwannee Hotel where they had their reception is no longer a hotel but an office complex, the couple invited friends to help them celebrate at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club on Saturday night.

All five bridesmaids _ Julia Ruth Stevens of Conway, N.H., Daryl Mahan Pemberton of Houston and Mary Jackson Stovall, Dot Lanier Bradbeer, and Jane Fowler Sankner of St. Petersburg _ were there. Earlier in the day, the five attendants gave a "bridesmaid's luncheon" for the "bride" at the Stouffer Vinoy Resort.