Dan Hynes doesn't hesitate to let folks know how he feels about his wife. He was smitten from the moment he laid eyes on Dottie Tolstuk in the school cafeteria. The year was 1963 and both were freshmen at Cambridge Latin, a high school near Boston.
Dan, raised in a traditional Catholic home, was one of eight children. His mother designed their family with two siblings born within 18 months of each other for companionship. As part of the third duo, Dan lost his sibling soon after birth. Dottie, by coincidence, was also a middle child, but of three, with a Catholic mother and Russian Orthodox father who doted on her enough to create a tomboy.
At age 15, Dan may have known where his heart was but had no clue what direction to take in life. While dating "on and off," as they tell it, through high school, graduation brought him up short to provide Dottie with some assurances. In her words, "I didn't see a lot of future."
He laments: "I couldn't find anything I liked. And then one day she was here, one day she wasn't."
Dottie started work at nearby New England Telephone before transferring to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, a NASA division, inputting data. There she met her husband, a NASA salesman whose assignments required multiple relocations across the U.S. Dottie assumed the role of homemaker and mother to their two sons.
One of Dan's older brothers worked at a well-established drywall business in Dracut, Massachusetts, and encouraged him to give it a try. Dan soon discovered that not only did he like it, but he was good at his job. Four years later, still in his early 20s, he decided to strike out on his own, but in flooring, accompanied by a few of his co-workers and backed up by four credit cards. His reputation and the business took off, bringing him success and satisfaction for 32 years.
His personal life didn't keep pace. While three children were born from his first marriage, the next two marriages were fraught with drama.
But technology intrigued him, and he gravitated toward the website classmates.com. The year 2011 may be etched in our minds for good reason, but for Dan it was a hunch – maybe he'd find her. He signed up. Three months later, so did Dottie. They realized she lived just one street away from his older brother. Stunning news. She, her husband and their two sons had recently moved to Kingston, NH.
"Hey, Saaarrraaa! What have you been doing these last 35 years?" he shouted across the Internet – a name he assigned to her long ago. They opted for a respectable meeting spot: his brother's home. No way could she have predicted the change in him. He'd put on at least 80 pounds. But bearing a wide grin, he welcomed her into his family for this reunion.
As he escorted her back to her car, long-buried feelings bubbled to the surface with the slightest touch to her ankle. She says: "I felt this aura about him when I saw him. But when he touched my foot, I lit up like a Christmas tree . . . like a bolt of lightning had struck me clean."
It wouldn't take long for these two high school sweethearts to square away their respective family issues and tuck themselves into a home on Lake Winnipesaukee. It took six years of his asking and her hemming for her to say "yes." They were married at Atkinson Country Club in front of a full house of family and friends as she walked down the aisle in a white wedding dress. Their first dance was "Remember When" by Alan Jackson. Not a dry eye in the house.
Eleven years have passed. They bought a condo nestled in the woodlands of Gilford. Dottie works for Lakes Region GeneralHealth at the reception desk. Dan works at Boulia Gorrell in the design department, as well as for ASL Limousine. Their two granddaughters add sunshine to their life when opportunities prevail, but the sun never sets for this couple.
"I never stopped loving her," Dan said.