Behind every great man is an amazing wife
“Are you that man who writes for the paper, and is she the one you are always writing about?”
The charming, and vivacious stranger is Roxanne, a checker at the Gardnerville Wal-Mart. Her words are so kind, that I’m compelled to give her a hug. Later I ponder her words. “…the lady you always talk about in the column.” Hmm. A mystery has been perpetrated.
For openers, Orllyene is my wife. She is amazingly loving and generous. When we relocated to New Jersey, Tibor Rudas (boss) was the V.P. of Entertainment at Resorts’ International. He was given a checkbook as thick as a loaf of bread. He immediately set about booking top name acts into Resorts’ International Superstar Theatre. Although Orllyene was also the day care quarterback for our daughter Marla’s three young children, she volunteered to be ”Celebrity Travel Coordinator” for Resorts’ entertainment department. We immediately outfitted her with a beeper, a private telephone line, a new 14-passenger van, and opened an account with Alex Limousines Service. Not only were celebrities to be met at the airports in Philadelphia and New York City, but also their conductors, musicians, and agents as well.
Once Orllyene received the star’s flight plans, she contacted Alex, and a stretch limo and driver were booked. A charmer, Alex and Orllyene got along famously. It seems, Alex was a refugee from the Soviet Union. He’d left his clothes on a river bank to make the KGB think he’d drowned, and then swam across the river to freedom.
“How is my princess,” he would say taking Orllyene’s hand, ever so gently, and giving it a kiss.
At the prescribed hour, Orllyene, and the limo driver would depart for the airport. On various occasions, she met Liberace, Pavarotti, Steve Martin, Jerry Lewis, Dolly Parton and many, many others. Frank Sinatra’s first comment when he arrived at the airport for a big gala, was, “Has Dino arrived?
“Sorry, he missed his plane in Vegas. I’ve been told that he’ll be arriving at midnight on Kirkorian’s plane,” Orllyene replied.
Orllyene very quickly made friends with the airport police in Philadelphia, and got permission to bring her limo onto the tarmac. When she met Bill Cosby, he asked the limo driver to pull over to where a mechanic was standing. He recognized a friend he grew up with in Philadelphia. Later, on the drive to A.C., he asked if they could make a stop at White House Subs, before going to the hotel. He wanted his kids to try their delicious subs.
At JFK airport in New York City, Cher’s first words to Orllyene were, ‘You’d better have a dermatologist at the casino when we get there or there isn’t going to be a show tonight!” A quick call to the casino, and a doctor was there when Cher arrived, and she dazzled a sellout show that night.
Meeting Gene Kelly was a “rapturous” experience for Orllyene. When she greeted Kelly in Philadelphia, his daughter, and her nanny were with him. The ride to Atlantic City was so spontaneous, and fun, that Mr. Kelly asked Orllyene to join his daughter and nanny in a booth at the show that night.
“I’m so happy to see my daughter, her nanny, and aunt Orllyene are here tonight,” he announced from the stage. For two years after that, we received Christmas cards from Kelly. Priceless.
On one occasion, Orllyene’s luck almost ran out. Johnny Mathis asked to be driven to the Somers Point Golf Course to play a round of golf, and didn’t want to travel by limo. So, she used our Cadillac, which wasn’t new, but was still quite nice. Crossing the bridge from Ocean City to Somers Point, she took a wrong turn. She panicked.
“It’s OK, take it easy,” Mathis said. After a few frantic minutes, they arrived at the country club. While walking through the lobby, they chanced to pass a postman. The postman got so excited that he asked Mathis if he could call his wife on the phone to say he was standing next to Johnny Mathis. Ever the nice guy, Johnny agreed.
“Sweetheart, I’m standing next to Johnny Mathis. I’m going to put him on to say hello,” the postman said and handed Mathis the phone. His wife didn’t believe it was Johnny Mathis. So, standing there in the lobby, Johnny Mathis sang a few bars of “Misty,” and then smilingly handed the telephone back to the postman.
In answer to your question, Roxanne, Orllyene is more than just one person. She’s a wonderful wife, a devoted mother, a loving gramma, and now a captivated great-grandmother. And she’s still meeting and greeting people in the most loveable way. Am I lucky, or what?
Orllyene and Ron Walker live in Smith Valley. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.