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St. Paul Park couple celebrates second marriage, first Valentine's Day

Jack Flaherty and Pat LaVang were married at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church last year and will celebrate their first Valentine's Day together at their St. Paul Park home. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner.

Newlyweds Jack Flaherty and Pat Levang are proof that when first marriages are happy, the second one will be, too.

Married on Nov. 27 last year at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, the couple on Monday will celebrate their first Valentine's Day together in their St. Paul Park home.

What brought them together after their spouses died was a long-time friendship. What binds them together is their love for each other, their families and activities centered in their church.

Flaherty's wife, Wyn, died six years ago. Wyn, whose maiden name was Murphy, was born in Old Cottage Grove. They were married 49 years.

Levang's husband, Bob, died 11 years ago. They were married 44 years at the time of his death.

Pat and Wyn were classmates in nursing at St. Catherine College in St. Paul, which was affiliated with St. Joseph's Hospital.

The Levangs moved to St. Paul Park in 1961, where they raised their five children.

"She came here in a covered wagon," quipped Jack during an interview with the couple. "She's getting used to my Irish sense of humor."

The Flahertys were baptismal sponsors for the Levangs' third child.

Members of their nursing class continued to get together from time to time and Pat kept track of Wyn through annual Christmas cards, even after the Flahertys moved to Mason City, Iowa, where they raised six children.

Jack Flaherty moved back to Cottage Grove three years ago to live in Norris Square.

"We just met up and went to Perkins for dinner one night," Jack said of he and Pat, who also was single.

They found they had a lot in common. Both sing in St. Thomas choirs and like the same kinds of music.

"Togetherness and affection are important," Jack said. "When you marry, you give up some independence but you gain companionship."

Jack also found that giving up his single status meant he no longer needed to pop a TV dinner into his microwave. "She's an exceptional cook," he said.

"He's easy to please," Pat said.

The couple's children and grandchildren gave the couple their blessings. "They're all happy about it," Pat said.

Keeping track of all the birthdays and melding the two families' holiday traditions need to be sorted out, but it will all work out, Pat said.

The secret to a happy marriage is patience, understanding and love, she said.

"You learn to give and take," Jack said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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