The first date for Appling residents Kim and Emory Holloway might have fallen on April Fool's Day, but their rendezvous turned out to be no joke.
Following that fateful first date, the couple married in August and have been together for 25 years. Each April Fool's Day, Kim receives a card from her husband.
"I truly think the Lord has a hand in that," said Kim, a radiographer at University Hospital's Prompt Care in Evans. "I think that (Emory) was sent to watch over me. He was sent my way."
In honor of Valentine's Day, The Columbia County News-Times held its inaugural "Cutest Couple" contest, and the Holloways were chosen as first-place winners.
The photos of each couple entered in the contest were placed online where voters picked finalists. The winner was then selected by judges.
In their photograph, the Holloways are standing on a dock sharing a smooch.
"You don't want to choose the person you want to live with," said Emory in regards to his wife. "You want to choose the person you can't live without."
The pair first met at Evans High School, where Kim was a senior. As part of his delivery route, Emory, an Evans High graduate, was at the school stocking Coke cans when he walked inside the girl's locker room to load the machine.
"I said, 'You can't come in here. There's girls back here dressing,'" Kim said. "And he's like, 'OK. Well, I'll wait until y'all are done. Do you want to have a Coke?'"
Emory, now an account manager at the Augusta Coca-Cola Bottling Co., met his future wife again after school that day. They have been a couple ever since.
Since their wedding at Martinez-Baptist Church in 1983, the couple has raised an 18-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter.
"The greatest gift I guess a dad could give his kids is to love their mom," Emory said.
Kim's friend and co-worker Eva Elliott nominated the couple for the contest. She said Emory makes sure he stays in contact with his wife throughout the day and sends her sweet e-mails.
"They are the cutest couple," she said. "I've been out with them plenty of times."
The Holloways won gift certificates to Rhinehart's Oyster Bar, A Piece of Cake and Green Thumb West.
In their spare time, the Holloways enjoy taking trips, camping and spending time with their children, five dogs and one cat.
They made plans to spend Valentine's Day grilling out at home with their family.
When it comes to keeping a happy marriage, Kim said the key is commitment.
"It's all about what you put into it," she said. "When I said 'I do,' I meant forever, whether it was good (or) bad."
Emory said he believes communication and negotiation keep the flame of a lasting marriage ignited.
"She's my best friend," he said. "She's the one I can talk to about anything."
And the longer the two remain married, the more good times they enjoy.
"We're happier now than we were 26 years ago," she said. "When you get through raising two teenagers, that's a lot. We're having fun now."
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