Lorraine Massie and James “Tommy” Faircloth, whose apartment was destroyed by a Memorial Day tornado, were married Friday in a ceremony at Grafton Oaks Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, where the two have been living since the disaster. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Photo: Chris Stewart
Photo: Chris Stewart

Nursing home wedding comes after couple lose everything in tornado: ‘I don’t want to lose him’

Relationships often take unique twists and turns, but seldom does a twister prompt a wedding.

“It brought us closer than we’ve ever been before. That had a lot to do with it,” said Lorraine Massie on Friday after she married James “Tommy” Faircloth after 20 years together.

“Plus, we really love each other, and I don’t want to lose him,” she said.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Walking the Path of the Storm

Massie and Faircloth, both with health challenges, were living in a Foxton Court apartment when their building and others nearby were destroyed by an EF4 tornado on Memorial Day.

“We lost everything there was – our car, everything,” she said

Soon after the tornado, family members moved Massie, 62, and Faircloth, 76, into the Grafton Oaks Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Dayton. More than five months later, they faced each other in wheelchairs under an arch of red and white balloons.

“He’s my soulmate, and I love him very much,” Massie said.

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Ruth Angelo, the facility’s maintenance director and ordained minister, officiated the ceremony.

“As life would have it, in another twist of fate in the form of a tornado, these two were led to safety in a loving community,” Angelo told gathered witnesses.

Massie, a Springfield native, and Faircloth, originally from North Carolina, met working together at Old Country Buffet, a Centerville restaurant now closed. Among the 70 people at the ceremony were some of their former co-workers.

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The couple, who both received in-home medical care before the tornado, lost all their medical equipment in the natural disaster, said Amy Hickox, Grafton Oaks’ marketing director, who helped organize the wedding.

“They have had some ups and downs with some medical issues since then, but this is something that Lorraine said was on her bucket list, and she wanted to make sure they got married,” Hickox said.

Massie said they don’t want to be in the rehabilitation center much longer and are looking for new housing.

MORE: First repair job by tornado recovery group is single mom’s home

Members of their blended family of seven children and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren looked on, took videos.

“Do you promise to love her with all your heart?” Angelo asked.

“I do,” he said, and slipped a ring on her finger.

Massie and Faircloth leaned toward each other and kissed to the cheers of those gathered, including older daughter Heather Massie.

“They’ve been together so long,” she said. “She’s never been married … I love them and I couldn’t ask for a better father.”

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