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RIGHT TIME RIGHT PLACE: Second time’s the charm for older, wiser couple

by Kimberly Dishongh | September 17, 2023 at 2:15 a.m.
Louise Shaneyfelt and Bill Hartmann had a first date in 1982. They were married on May 18, 2019. Over the years, Louise regretted ending their relationship. When he called her 32 years later, one of the first things she uttered was an apology. (Special to Democrat-Gazette)

The first time around for Louise Shaneyfelt and Bill Hartmann went wrong, but the second time around things have gone all right.

"We dated then, but it just didn't work out," says Louise of 1982, when they were both students at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. "He found me 32 years later."

Bill sat behind Louise in marketing class and they had business statistics together, too.

"He hated it, so we became study buddies," she says. "He was really cute, and he had incredible blue eyes. So when I turned around and talked to him the first time I was intrigued."

They started dating in September. In November, he joined her family for Thanksgiving dinner.

"They really liked him, and they made him do the traditional Shaneyfelt thing and play cards," she says. "He passed the test and they really liked him. My family was very competitive."

In December, over Christmas break, Bill went to visit his sister. While he was gone, Louise's ex-boyfriend got in touch with her.

"We had been hitting it off but I was young and stupid," she says of Bill. "I was 19. I started talking to this other guy again and I didn't have the heart to tell Bill, so I ghosted him. I didn't have the guts to tell him I had gone back with this guy."

Louise and Bill had one more class together, but she steered clear, often skipping the class altogether and getting the notes from someone later.

Bill called, but Louise didn't pick up the phone.

"He came up to my car one day because we kind of parked in the same place, but I just wouldn't talk to him. I mean, I feel awful," she says. "My parents were really mad, too."

Bill graduated the following year, making it that much easier for Louise to avoid him.

"I was younger than he was and he had gone to work and then come back to school or I would have never met him," she says.

She dated her old boyfriend for a while, and after they broke up she eventually met and married someone else.

"I was religious about [reading] the Arkansas Democrat and I saw in there that he had gotten married sometime over the years," she says of Bill.

They reunited via social media, connecting through mutual friends from high school -- she graduated from McClellan High School and he graduated from Catholic High School for Boys, both in Little Rock. In November 2015 Bill commented on Louise's Facebook post about her mother's 90th birthday.

"I told her to tell her mom happy birthday and we just kind of replied back and forth," he says. "That kind of led to, 'Do you care if I call you sometime?'"

Louise was living in Memphis then, and Bill was in Little Rock. They were both divorced by then.

He called her about a week later.

"I had kids in high school and college so I called her over Thanksgiving after they all left," he says. "We just started talking and we ended up going out."

In January 2016, Bill told her he would be in Memphis visiting a customer and they decided to meet for lunch.

"It turned out he just told me that. It was just an excuse -- he didn't really have a customer he was seeing that day," she says.

There were hours-long phone conversations after that.

"We took it really slow," she says.

Later that year, Louise got a job in Arkansas so they could be together.

They enjoyed spending weekends at the lake and going to dinner and seeing movies, and they took their teenage daughters on a vacation to Riviera, Maya.

In 2018, a chatty Uber driver asked them about how they met as he drove them home from a Christmas party.

"He said, 'So are y'all getting married?' and Bill got really weird and mad at him and he kind of jumped down his throat a little bit," Louise recalls.

Based on his reaction, Louise concluded marriage was not in their future. Unbeknownst to her, he already had an engagement ring.

"I had planned to propose to her in the Dominican Republican," he says. "So on Christmas Eve, while we were on vacation in the Dominican Republic I proposed to her out on the beach."

They were married on May 18, 2019, at the Old Mill in North Little Rock's Lakewood neighborhood.

"We finished about five minutes before a huge thunderstorm, where we had about 70 mile per hour winds and all that," Bill says.

There was a reception following at the Maumelle Country Club.

Bill is in the sporting goods business. Louise retired a couple of years ago from her job as a sales manager so she could travel with him to see customers. Over the last eight years, their focus has been on making up for lost time.

"People tell us all the time that it probably wasn't the right time for us because I was young and stupid, you" Louise says. "We appreciate each other so much more now because of our life experiences. We just believe that timing is everything."

If you have an interesting how-we-met story or if you know someone who does, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:

The first time I saw my future spouse:

She says: "I could not stop looking at his eyes. He has such blue eyes."

He says: "She was dressed to the nines. We were at UALR early in the morning and usually people had blue jeans on and she had a dress on, heels on … she looked like she was always dressed to go to work at an office."

On our wedding day:

She says: "I felt like it was supposed to happen, like it was just meant to be."

He says: "I was happy. I wasnt nervous or any of that."

My advice for a long happy marriage:

She says: "We have a good time. I have to say that I have never had as much enjoyment just being with somebody and we have been on all kinds of adventures. We certainly talk a bunch, and it makes road trips easy."

He says: "Weve only been married four years, but I guess I would say focus on enjoying your time together."


  photo  Bill and Louise Hartmann had a brief relationship about 40 years ago. They reunited in 2016 and say they had a blast celebrating their fourth anniversary. “We’ve realized we have to do this in dog years,” Louise says. “We figure for every year that’s really seven.” (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

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