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Goliad man waits 40 years to marry Victoria sweetheart

Gabe Semenza

By Gabe Semenza
Sept. 25, 2009 at 4:25 a.m.
Updated Sept. 26, 2009 at 4:26 a.m.

Kenneth Esterak, of Goliad, and Linda Turner, of Victoria, marry on Friday  at Riverside Park's Rose Garden. They dated more than 40 years ago. After living separate lives, they finally tied the knot. Victoria County Justice of the Peace Henry Welfel performed the ceremony.

Linda Turner broke up with Kenneth Esterak 40 years ago, she said, because he pushed too hard for marriage.

Turner wasn't ready then. She changed her mind on Friday.

Turner, of Victoria, and Esterak, of Goliad, married at the gazebo inside the Rose Garden at Riverside Park. The quiet ceremony lasted five minutes.

The events that led to their wedding, however, spur a much lengthier tale.

The two dated a few years during the late 1960s. They often danced. One night, Esterak made the wrong move.

"He had a lot of jealousy back then," Turner, now 61, said. "He'd escort me to the bathroom at a dance, and wait outside the door. So, I broke up with him. He eventually got married. I eventually got married and went about my business. He never forgot me."

Esterak, now 68, went to work for Alcoa and cared for a wife who gradually became sicker starting in 1980. His wife suffered a back injury that left her largely immobile. In 2006, she suffered pneumonia and became weaker. In 2007, she awoke and couldn't speak or move. Doctors told her she had cancer. She died 12 days later.

During the years, Esterak and Turner bumped into each other, but rarely. They visited once 25 years ago. Ten years ago, Esterak spotted Turner in a grocery store, but they didn't speak.

After Turner divorced, they met by chance last year at a Mission Valley dance. It wasn't Esterak's dance moves, though, that won Turner over this time.

"I love his faithfulness to his wife. She was sick for more than 20 years," Turner said. "You don't find those type of men very often anymore. He's so laid back now. I kicked myself since I met back up with him. I should have married him back then."

Esterak became teary-eyed before and during Friday's wedding. The couple held hands as each read vows. A small group of friends clapped when they kissed.

"It's kind of a weird deal," Esterak said. "When we finally ran into each other after so many years, we just sort of picked up where we left off. It worked out really good. I'd never dreamed of anything like this before. She's everything I remember her to be."

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