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‘He Had Been Throwing Out Hints, Asking Me ‘What Kind of Rings I Liked?’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY | Special to the Birmingham Times

GENITA & ARMON MATTHEWS

Live: McCalla, AL

Married: Sept. 22, 2012

Met: In 1991 at Wenonah High School. Armon was a senior, a popular athlete, and well-liked by the ladies. Genita was a freshman.

“He was very arrogant, I didn’t have any interest in him, and he didn’t have any interest in me,” Genita said. “He didn’t even know I existed.”

Armon said he insists he was not arrogant, just preoccupied. “I was a senior trying to graduate, it was a hectic time in 1991…,” he said.

Fast forward 20 years and the two would meet again at their high school alma mater in January 2011. Genita was the assistant principal at Wenonah High School, and Armon was a part-time coach for the football team (as well as the director of T.R. McCoy, a company the Housing Authority Birmingham District hired to run the community centers in the City of Birmingham).

During football season that year, Armon was fundraising and selling tickets for the class of 1991’s 20th-year reunion and invited Genita to the festivities. “… I told him I would support him and bought two tickets, one for me and one for one of my girlfriends, and he [also] gave me his number,” Genita recalled.

Genita and her friend went to the reunion for a stay so short that Armon reimbursed her for the tickets.

“I appreciated her coming and supporting the class of 91, and I felt like the admirable thing to do was give Genita her money back …,” Armon said.”

Armon walked Genita and her friend to her car and “said let me know when you make it home tonight, and I told my girlfriend he was ‘acting like he was my man,’” Genita laughed.

“She had on a black turtleneck and black jeans, she looked nice that night. “…we talked on the phone through my drive home, but I think [what really connected us] is we had a mutual interest in the community and ministry,” Armon said.

“We were talking about my past marriage experiences and life in general and he said, ‘let’s become prayer partners and that’s what lit me up’… I still wasn’t [interested romantically], but I did enjoy the conversation,” Genita said.

First date: February 2011, at Ruby Tuesday at The Riverchase Galleria in Hoover.

“I still wasn’t feeling him,” Genita laughed, “but I thought he was nice. On the date, he was a gentleman, and I enjoyed his company.”

“We were having a good conversation talking about the Lord, mentorship, about kids and how they can get better and how we can do more. She was the Vice Principal at Wenonah High and I was the director of T.R. McCoy, so most of our conversations were around mentorship and ministry,” Armon said. “We had a lot of common friends because we went to the same high school… I had been coaching at Wenonah, and we had a lot of things in common when it came to the kids.”

The turn: April 2011, “that’s when the tornado went through Pleasant Grove, Pratt City, and Hueytown… And what made Armon special was that he was trying his best to locate me after the tornado hit. He didn’t even know where I stayed in Hueytown but was trying to find me… And once my power came back on and he told me that story [about trying to find me] I was touched. The tornado went past my house but it did hit my friend’s house, and Armon was such a huge help to my friend… His concern for me made me realize he really liked me. He just kept popping up [in my time of need] … every time I looked up he was there and it made me ask what was going on with us, are we in a relationship or what? And he said ‘yes, we’re in a relationship’. …after the tornado, I was sold,” Genita said.

Armon replied, “I concur.”

The proposal: February 2012, in Genita’s office at Wenonah High School.

“I didn’t want to make a fuss, but I did want to surprise her, so I went to her office at the school. I had the ring and I got on my knee and asked her ‘Will you marry me?’ I was happy to know that [the ring] she got was what she wanted and, I tried to get it as close to the right ring size as I could,” Armon said.

“He had been throwing out hints, asking me what kind of rings I liked and getting my ring size, I just didn’t know when it was going to happen,” Genita said. “It was a very intimate moment behind closed doors in my office. There was actually too much going on at work that day,” she laughed, “there were a couple of fights and an office proposal in the middle of it was not something I was expecting… I said ‘yes’, and then Armon said now let’s go talk to your dad because we need your parents to bless it before we announce it.”

The wedding: At Faith Apostolic Church in Birmingham, officiated by its pastor, Bishop Michael Bender. The couple’s colors were chocolate, fuchsia, and cream.

Most memorable for the bride was “when I walked down the aisle and saw Armon, my family, our friends. It was so surreal to me at the moment, like ‘wow, this is really happening.’ I was given another opportunity to love and do marriage again but this time with my true soul mate,” Genita said. “That was a good moment walking down the aisle to someone who truly loves me, accepts me, and wants to be with me.”

Most memorable for the groom was, “Watching Genita walk down the aisle and seeing what my future is and will be was a true blessing,” Armon said. “I was thanking God for allowing us to be together. There were a lot of people there, and being able to focus on just her in that moment was a surprise and a blessing.”

The couple honeymooned in Atlanta, Georgia. “We had fun eating great food and exploring Atlanta, and the malls, we had a great time. It was a short trip,” Armon said.

Words of wisdom: “Put God first. We wake up praying and go to bed praying. We try to make sure we don’t go to bed mad with each other and continue to have that common goal of putting God first and fulfilling the things He has for us to do,” Armon said.

“Whatever you did when you met the person, continue to do the same after the marriage. God first, husband second, and family third, in that order. Your soul mate can be right in your presence, and you don’t even know it. We were in each other’s presence all these years and never knew that we were going to be together as soul mates. So stay focused and keep God first and he’ll lead you and direct you,” Genita said.

Happily ever after: The Matthews are a blended family with 3 children: Dondreus, 34, Kylah, 25, and Jasmine, 25, and one grandchild, Alani, 5. Genita attends Faith Apostolic Church in Birmingham, where she serves as a greeter and runs the education ministry, and Armon attends the Worship Center Christian Church in Bessemer.

Genita, 48, is a Wenonah native, and a Wenonah High School grad. She attended Miles College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in math education, and Samford University where she earned a master’s degree in education administration, and an Ed. S in Instructional Leadership. Genita is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and the Principal at Huffman Middle School.

Armon, 51, is a Birmingham native, and a Wenonah High School grad. He attended The University of Southern Mississippi where he earned a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and business and works as the Director of Client Services for the Housing Authority Birmingham District.

“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, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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