By Dan Coles
A couple who tied the knot in a shotgun wedding just 11 days after meeting each other are still happily married – 35 years later.
Military officer Douglass Elgar, 53, from Washington, USA, was just 21 when he met now-wife, Billy, 50, by accident after bumping into her while visiting his friend’s girlfriend at work.
Amazingly, the pair had both planned to go on dates with other people that night meaning Billy initially turned down Douglass’ advances.
But when Douglass, who was on leave from the military, asked Billy out again she said yes and following their first date the soulmates both decided they were destined for each other.
Six days later they were engaged, planning originally to get married six months later as Douglass’ army career was due to take him to New York.
But when Douglass’ friend dropped out on a trip driving through Nevada back to New York, Billy took his place and the couple decided to get married just days later in the city of Elko.
Since then, the lovestruck couple have stood the test of time and are approaching their 35th wedding anniversary, with four children together and the same adoration for each other they first had all those years ago.
Douglass said: “While I was a soldier I asked for an extension of 15 days off, and it was in those 15 days that we met.
“At the time, I was just a single man enjoying my last bit of freedom before returning to my job.
“I was actually on my way out with friends to ask another girl to go dancing that night.
“But as soon as I met Billy, the voice in my head told me I had to be with her.”
Billy added: “I had also planned to date someone else that night, we were meeting at 6pm.
“So when Douglass asked me out, I knew if I was to go out with him he would have to get me before my other date showed up.
“It wasn’t his dance moves that did it, but he was very charming.”
Just six days after meeting the couple were engaged, but Douglass was set to soon have to return to the army in New York.
But when one of Douglass’ friends dropped out of driving back to the Big Apple, Billy was happy to step in.
While travelling, the couple saw signs advertising for couples who could instantly get married in Nevada without the need to apply.
The pair stopped at a gas station and asked where the nearest place was that they could get married and was told to head to Elko, Nevada.
Douglass said: “It still hadn’t been something we had thought of.
“We saw a sign stating Las Vegas, Nevada, as being the marriage capital of the world.
“The same voice that told me to ask her out, told me to marry her.
“Then we found Elko on a map and drove there.
“We got married both wearing t-shirt and shorts, after washing at a service station.
“It was strange because two weeks before this, we didn’t even know each other”
Billy said: “I couldn’t seem to get away from him.
“When we left on our drive across the country, the intention was to fly home after.
“I had no intention at that point of getting married.
“But when Douglass asked me, without missing a beat, I said yes.”
When the couple arrived in New York, Billy decided to stay there with her new hubby and they lived there for a year before relocating to Aberdeen, Washington.
Since then, Douglass, a technician, and clothing business owner Billy have enjoyed many years of wedded bliss.
The couple insisted their excellent communication is what has kept them together for 35 years.
Billy said: “We didn’t have outside influences, we really had to learn how to rely on each other and figure things out together.
“What keeps us together is that we really talk to each other.
“We have opposing opinions on things, we don’t always agree, but we respect each other completely.
“We have a huge amount of respect for each other, it’s a continuously building relationship.
“We’re not the same people we were thirty years ago, but we have always been committed to this life we are sharing together.”
Douglass added: “I try to never take her for granted, it’s easy to do that.
“Every year I still ask her if she’ll be my Valentine, but she always makes me wait.”