Come hell or high water, Kestra “Kess” Pritchard was going to be at Dunmore Daze this year, despite her doctors wishes.
Kess and her husband, George, were selected as King and Queen of the festival. Although Kess was in Cleveland, Ohio, in the hospital with a heart condition, she was not going to miss the festivities.
“This is kind of important to us,” she said before being crowned last Friday evening. “I told them, ‘I know you don’t understand, but I have to come home.’ This is the only time we’ve ever been asked to be King and Queen, and it was important to us.”
Dunmore holds a special place in the hearts of both George and Kess. George lives in the house he grew up in, and Kess met the love of her life while spending summers in the town.
“I’m from Cleveland,” she said. “I came down to stay with my grandma and thought he was the best looking thing I sever saw. My sister went with him first, and I always did want everything Sandra had. I was fourteen, he was twenty-one.”
When asked what he thought of Kess when he met her George laughed and said, “foolish. She was just a kid.”
“I told him the first night I went out with him I was going to marry him, and he said, ‘you are a funny little kid,’” Kess said. “When he was a college boy, he was so handsome. I only came [to Dunmore] two weeks in the summer and he only came up [from college] twice in the winter, so I only saw him about eight times, but they were for like a week-and-a-half. So it was all done on letters. I got a letter every day.”
The couple married after Kess graduated high school – one week after, in fact. They moved to Cleveland and lived there until George retired and then they moved back to Dunmore. The couple had three children – Greg, Beth and the late Geoffrey.
Even after all those years, Kess and George still have that gleam in their eyes when they look at each other. Kess still sees that handsome college boy and George still sees that foolish girl who stole his heart.
“We’re very fortunate,” Kess said. “We’ve been together many, many years and we still think the same. We still love each other the same, and you can’t beat that.”
“We’re still friends,” George added.
The past month has been a test for the couple. Kess was taken to the hospital in Cleveland, where she was told she needs bypass surgery.
“I’m going back to Cleveland in September to get back into rhythm – I’m atrial-fib, I’m out of rhythm,” Kess said. “That will make me feel better. They did a stint, and that will make me feel better for six months. I’ve got to have five bypasses.”
When the pair went to Cleveland, they were unaware of the seriousness of Kess’ situation.
“We didn’t know I was in so much trouble,” she said. “We went up for three days and stayed eleven. I won’t give up. I’ll keep trying. I’m going to give it the best I’ve got.”