“We kept encountering each other,” Keven Renken says. “Not only encountering each other, but finding each other.”
Keven, who is a teacher and the theater department chairman at the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, met Bill Myerholtz, who is a disability representative for Morgan & Morgan, for the first time back in 1982.
Keven, 57, was directing a play in Columbus, Ohio, where they both lived at the time, and walked across the hall to where another show was rehearsing. He was talking to his friend who was in the show when he scanned the room and noticed Bill — the only person he didn’t recognize. He asked his friend about him, and she didn’t know very much but she would find out for him.
“She wasn’t sure whether he was gay or not,” Keven jokes. “She didn’t know him well enough, so after every rehearsal she would call me, this was way before there was texting, to give me the ‘Is Bill gay?’ update.”
One day, the cast of that show had a dress rehearsal, and Keven decided to try to strike up a conversation with Bill. After the rehearsal, his friend introduced them and he barely said a word besides “Hi,” picked up his stuff and left.
Keven went to a party for the cast later that evening. Sure enough, Bill, 66, was there, and this time when they spoke they hit it off — and they both say the rest is history.
“He seemed like a very nice guy and very much a people person,” Bill says. “He was very animated and one of those people that just starts conversations with everybody.”
With Bill just getting out of a relationship, he didn’t want to be involved with anyone else too soon. But it seemed over the years, they were always in each other’s life no matter what.
Keven ended up going to New York for graduate school, and Bill would visit him all the time. Despite the years and distance, they always kept in touch and connected. When Keven finally came back to Ohio, Bill had an opportunity in Tampa, so he took it and moved down to Florida.
Soon enough, Keven came down to visit him, and that’s when Bill finally figured it was time. So he asked Keven if he wanted to move down with him right before he got on his plane to fly back to Ohio — and he said yes, and they have been together ever since.
It only made sense to Keven and Bill that marriage was the next step, yet they agreed they wanted to wait until it was legal in Florida to ever consider actually getting hitched.
On January 6, 2015, the day it became legal for same-sex couples to get married in Florida, Ke-ven sent to Bill’s work 12 long-stemmed red roses with a note that read “I love you. Will you marry me?” And he said yes.
“I don’t tend to get emotional about things as much as Keven, but it was very shocking and very surprising,” Bill says.
The couple is going to have a short ceremony at sunset in their backyard surrounded by their closest family and friends, and then a night filled with drinking, mingling with family an friends and celebrating their special day with the people that mean the most to them.
“We’re very casual people,” Bill says. “I told him this is for us. The wedding is for us; it’s not for anybody else, so we’re going to do what we want to do.”
One of Keven’s old theater students, who just finished touring with “The Lion King” might even come to their wedding and sing at it, along with having a string quartet play at their ceremony.
Out of the 57 years he has been alive, Keven has been with Bill for 33 of those years, so he says for something like that to happen, he considers himself one of the lucky ones.
“My favorite thing about Bill is that, without fail, he just makes me laugh,” Keven says and cannot wait to look forward to calling Bill his husband.
Being two very big theater junkies, they said if they could turn their love story into a play or musical it would be called “Still Crazy After All These Years” after the Paul Simon song — because after all these years they’re still crazy for each other.
YEARS TOGETHER: 33 years
ENGAGEMENT DATE: January 6, 2015
WEDDING DATE: October 2, 2015
WEDDING VENUE: Their backyard
WEDDING PLANNER: Keven and Bill planned their wedding.
WEDDING CATERERS: Affordable Catering
WEDDING THEME/COLORS: The wedding will be dress casual with the colors being purple, pink and white.
FIRST SONG: “The Next Ten Minutes” from the musical The Last Five Years
INTERESTING FACT: They met because they both had a mutual interest in theater.