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Best Places Hawaii, home of The Hawaii State Vacation Planner, announced the winner of their "Love Stories of Hawaii" promotion on May 15, 2000. The lucky storyteller was Chuck Souder of Rudd, Iowa who dedicated his story "The Waikikian" to Dianne Souder, his bride of 32 years. The winning story relates the romantic account of a 20-year-old Iowa farm boy who proposes to his future wife in Honolulu on his way to India during a 1965 stint in the Peace Corps.
Dedicated to Dianne Burke Souder
Submitted by Chuck Souder
At age 20, this Iowa farm boy traveled by plane from his land-locked home state for the very first time. My mother received a call from the Washington, D.C. Peace Corps office telling her that I was to leave in one week for two years of service in India. The year was 1965. The shock of that telephone call so very long ago still haunts me today.
We gathered in Davis, California, a motley crew of 102 volunteers seeking to carry the Kennedy spirit to unknown corners of the globe. We stopped en route to India to refuel, landing in Honolulu at midnight. There were mechanical problems on that Pan Am jet and we were shuttled to the Waikikian Hotel on the beach.
It was paradise. It was the romantic encouragement I needed to propose to my wife (of 32 years). As we stood on the beach and I saw an ocean for the first time, Dianne agreed to be my wife. We had less than a 24-hour layover and then left Hawaii and flew to Guam, the Philippines, and then India. Two years later, Dianne and I returned to her home state of New Jersey and we were married.
How I would love to surprise her with a real honeymoon back to that Hawaiian paradise. Our three children are now grown, and we are grandparents. They have heard our stories of India, but the 24 hours in Hawaii, when I knew Dianne would be my valentine for life, are our unshared memories.
Our backgrounds were different, and we raised our children in Iowa, so I know how much Dianne has given to live in my home state. I would love to thank her for her unselfishness, love, and friendship with a trip back in time to re-dedicate ourselves to each other.