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Hedden Love Uncovered Again 30 Years After Campus Romance

By Sherry Kughn
JSU News Bureau

22 September 2004 — The mid-1960s were a magical time for Sharron Herman and Don Hedden. As students at Jacksonville State University, each led a storybook campus life. He played football and she marched with the Ballerinas. They dated in a borrowed car and danced on Wednesday nights at Leone Cole Auditorium to the live performances of Little Anthony and the Imperials, Otis Redding, the Temptations and the Four Tops. They were young, in love and looked forward to a happy marriage after graduation.

Life, though, has a way of changing even the most perfect plans. In 1968, Don, who had played football for four years, tried out and made cheerleader for his senior year. Just before the year started, though, he got a draft notice for service in Vietnam. Sharron became anxious and worried that he would be killed. He, on the other hand, wanted to serve his county and drove to Montgomery at the scheduled time for processing. When army officials told him he could not fight due to a football-related shoulder injury received, he was shocked.

“I said to them, ‘I have been playing football for JSU and you won't let me come into the military?'” said Don. The army wouldn't budge. After a few days of disbelief, Don decided to drive the next Friday afternoon to JSU where he knew Ballerina practice was taking place. He would ask Sharron to marry him. When Friday came, Don drove to the university, figuring Sharron would run out of practice and into his arms. She, on the other hand, had heard of his rejection and was hurt that he had not called. She skirted the gate when she saw him, and she avoided him.

“Our pride wouldn't let us call each other,” he said. “We never got it worked out or straightened out and went in separate directions.”

Their relationship lay crumpled for 30 years like an old love letter stored and yellowing in a dusty foot locker.

Sharron married, moved to Birmingham and had two daughters. She worked in the admission office for the daughters' school, Brierwood Christian. Don married and had three sons. He helped manage his family's chain of John Deere dealerships in the Huntsville area. Sharron divorced. Don Divorced. Each focused on their children and their jobs. In spring of 2000 when Don invited Jim Mikul, a friend from his college days, to Huntsville on a trip, the long separation between Don and Sharron took a different turn.

During that trip, Jim mentioned that their former friend Sharron had been divorced for several years. Don asked Jim to leave at once and find Sharron's phone number. In March of 2000, Don called her. They set up a date for April 1, an unlikely day for lovers.

“I thought it might be a joke since our date was on April Fool's Day,” said Mrs. Hedden. “but we started talking and began resolving our misunderstanding.”

The couple dated a few times and decided to meet one evening near Bibb Graves Hall beneath a certain tree where they had often sat as youths.

“It was a crisp, fall night, “said Sharron. “He got there before I did, and when I arrived we shared so many memories.”

Don proposed in January 2001 while they were on a trip to the Grand Canyon, and the couple married on October 27, 2001.

Happily married now, the Heddens have settled in Madison. They enjoy time with their five children. Her daughters are Ginger, 22, and Paige, 21. His sons are Adam, 26, Dean, 24, and Clay, 22. The siblings seem to appreciate having new brothers and sisters. In fact, four of them lived with the Heddens in the summer of 2003.

“The kids had a blast,” said Mrs. Hedden. “Our blended families get along beautifully.”


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