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How We Met: Third Time’s a Charm

A good friend's patience allows Ira Joe Fisher to find the love of his life

Ira Joe Fisher considers himself a lucky guy. While working as a disc jokey in Spokane, Washington, after a stint in the military, he became good friends with a play-by-play sports announcer named Dick Wright. Wright, who was fond of showing off photos of his eight “cute little kids,” invited Ira Joe home to meet the family.

When Ira Joe forgot to show up for the large Sunday dinner, his patient friend invited him again. And once again, Ira Joe forgot. “Dick thought it was funny. Dorothy, his wife, was not as amused,” says Ira Joe.

Shelly, the oldest of the eight children, thought it odd that her dad’s friend stood them up. She thought it even more odd the second time, especially because her mom had set the table with the fancy china.

And this is where Ira Joe says he got lucky. After profusely apologizing, he actually received a third invitation. This time he arrived for Sunday dinner with flowers and more apologies. And it was then that he got the big surprise—the “cute little kids” weren’t all that little anymore. “Shelly was considerably more grown up than the outdated photo in her father’s wallet,” remarks Ira Joe. “I thought she was the prettiest girl in the world.”

The couple’s next meet up was a thinly veiled fix-up by Shelly’s dad. He invited Ira Joe and Shelly for coffee and then made excuses leaving the two to themselves. “Ira talked the whole time,” says Shelly, who liked Ira Joe’s humor, kindness, and love of learning.

Ira Joe was struck by what a good listener Shelly was. Being a “prolific talker” that seemed like “destiny.” He was also attracted to the way her eyes crinkle when she laughed. But it was her faith in him and her thoughtful wisdom that sealed the deal.

As the couple began dating, the Wrights took Ira Joe into their “funny, welcoming, entertaining family” and he fell in love with them all. Which was a good thing because the close-knit family did everything together and the couple felt like they were always on a group date. It was sweet shy Shelly who finally put her foot down and demanded time alone with Ira.

The whirlwind romance ended at the altar after only six months because as Ira Joe says, “I knew right away.” All of Shelly’s siblings were in the large beautiful wedding, which was covered by the local TV station.

As Ira Joe’s career took off, and the couple made their way East where he became a popular feature and weather reporter for television. His was a familiar face on WNBC, WCBS, and CBS’s “The Early Show.” By then they were a family of six. On their first drive by the fountain and the hot-dog man, the entire family fell in love with Ridgefield, which Ira Joe calls “the place for waves and hellos.” Currently, Ira Joe teaches poetry and creative writing at Mercy College and UConn. He also teaches a TV performing class, communication strategies, and public speaking. He is the author of several books; the most recent a collection of essays entitled Wide and Wavy Out of Salamanca. Shelly put her listening skills and wisdom to good use. After raising their family, she became a substance-abuse counselor.

“He still makes me laugh after 46 years of marriage,” says Shelly.

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