By any accounts, this was a whirlwind courtship that lasted only three months and ended in the happiest marriage of a lifetime! Linda met Rob on a blind date that she really didn’t want to go on. Dr. Manny David Paine, who was both her doctor and her dad, Ford Reese’s, best friend, asked her to go on a date with one of the officers on a Navy ship that would only be in New Orleans for three months. Linda was dating other people at the time and said no at first, but finally relented – just to show him a little of New Orleans.
On the first date, Linda got them lost so it didn’t go too well, but they decided to give it two more dates! They hit it off and Rob asked Linda to go to his family’s vacation home in Hazwelhurst, Wisconsin. She met his family, and Rob taught her to climb firehouses and water-ski over jumps! For a first-time girl, she was very brave and ended up in a cast and on crutches, but he was very impressed. He decided she was the woman for him. When they got back to New Orleans, they dated more and he asked Linda’s dad for her hand in marriage. They were out with friends for dinner and then visited Pat O’Brien’s, where he asked her to marry him. She was shocked because they had only been dating a while. She promised him that she would have an answer in one month, when his ship was commissioned in Charleston, South Carolina, and she said “Yes!”. He gave her a huge fake ring until the real one was picked out.
There was a party in Charleston, then in Chicago where Rob was from and of course in New Orleans at her mom and dad’s house on Pitt Street. Linda’s mom, Bev Reese, planned the whole wedding! There were nonstop showers, lunches, dinners and the rehearsal dinner at the Royal Orleans Hotel. The wedding took place at Rayne Memorial Methodist Church with Benedict Galloway performing the ceremony. The wedding reception was at the New Orleans Country Club for about 600 friends and family. Linda’s dress was a candlelight gown of imported English net with festooned Alençon garlands. (She saved her dress and remade it to wear at her daughter’s weddings.)
Rob had to report to duty in the Navy, so they had a honeymoon at the Royal Sonesta Hotel for a few days and then off to Charleston. They lived in New Orleans where Rob worked for Adams & Reese and then moved to Piedmont, California, where Rob started a new law firm. He passed away from cancer and Linda moved back to New Orleans. She volunteers at Hope Lodge, YAYA, NOMA and many nonprofits.
For clarification: Linda Bjork is my sister, best friend and is a photographer for my column for St. Charles Avenue magazine. Beverly Reese is our mother. W. Ford Reese is our father. Both of our parents are deceased.