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‘Love hard, forgive and don’t be so stubborn’

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By Anita Debro
Special to The Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone who would, please send nominations to Erica Wright at ewright@birminghamtimes.com . Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

Eugenia and Kelvin Tartt for You Had Me At Hello for The Birmingham Times. (Reginald Allen Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

EUGENIA AND KELVIN TARTT

Live: East Lake

Married: March 30, 1993

Met: Kelvin and Eugenia met as children at his grandmother’s house in Crestwood. She was in the fifth grade and he was in the sixth. Eugenia was his cousin’s best friend. “I just remember seeing her and she had a bunch of keys on her like a janitor,” Kelvin recalled. “And I was picking with her about it.”

“I hated him at first,” Eugenia said. But something sparked between the two and they became friends.  Eugenia was not allowed to talk to boys, except for Kelvin.  Once she got to middle school, Eugenia would see him and he had a girlfriend. But  Kelvin said he looked at Eugenia differently. “One day I just got it into my mind that she was going to be my girlfriend,” he said, “I kissed her that day.”

First date: The couple’s first date was Christmas 1989 when they were still in middle school. “His mom picked me up and took me to dinner at his grandmother’s house,” Eugenia said. “And he got me a teddy bear.”

High school sweethearts: Eugenia and Kelvin both attended Woodlawn High School. They dated throughout high school and had two sons. When Kelvin graduated from high school he went to the Navy and was stationed in Whidbey Island in Seattle. Eugenia graduated one year later.

The proposal: “Kelvin came home and he gave me money to plan a wedding,” Eugenia said. “I really didn’t think he wanted to get married.” But Kelvin was serious. “I got down on one knee,” he said. “He got down on one knee all the time in school,” Eugenia said. This time, he said, it was real.

The wedding: The couple married at the Jefferson County Courthouse. Afterwards they went to the Tutwiler Hotel for a reception and then to Atlanta for their honeymoon. Kelvin said what he remembers most about that day was the pink dress Eugenia was wearing. “I was wearing a blue and white dress,” Eugenia corrected. “It was the same dress I wore to the prom.” Kelvin said he would agree to disagree.

Eugenia and Kelvin Tartt for You Had Me At Hello for The Birmingham Times. (Reginald Allen Photos, For The Birmingham Times)

Words of wisdom: Eugenia and Kelvin married young. “My family thought I was too young,” Kelvin said. “My mom didn’t think I was too young, she was happy for me,” Eugenia said. As couple’s grow together they should compromise and “not take everything so seriously,” they said.  The couple learned first-hand about compromising as Eugenia forged a path of her own and decided to go into the military once Kelvin left the Navy. She said her husband’s support was important as she also went on to graduate from Miles College and now that she is in graduate school. “She always stood by me and I just try to support her in whatever she wants to do,” he said.

Eugenia, who calls Kelvin her “Superman” said it is also important to “love hard, to forgive and don’t be so stubborn.”

Happily ever after: Eugenia and Kelvin have three adult children – Kelvin, 27; Anthony, 26 and Andre, 23.  They are small business owners of a gifts shop and embroidery and design business.  “We want to push our business to the next level,” Kelvin said.  They are looking to open a storefront soon.