Monday, October 22, 2007

Love Story: He won croquet … and her heart


In the fall of 1999 Avis Garrett and a group of Scandinavian friends were enjoying a game of croquet on her front lawn.

A man wearing a suit showed up and joined the game.
“I was not excited about seeing this man in a suit,” says Avis, who was then 64. “I thought he looked like a stuffed shirt.”

But she was impressed when the “stuffed shirt” won the game.

She soon learned that Jeremy Baptist, then 59, was an interesting man with a good sense of humor. When Jeremy found out Avis was an artist, he invited her to the Plaza Art Fair the next weekend.

The rain poured while they were at the art fair. They ended up wet and laughing at a Plaza restaurant, where they ate and talked. And talked. They had a lot in common. They were both widowed with large, close-knit families. They were both working with children who had autism, Jeremy as a doctor and Avis as an art therapist.

“We enjoyed being together,” Jeremy says.

They continued the croquet games and started going to the theater and more. They also started studying together and learning about each other’s work.

“Our work helped bring us together,” Avis says. “Jeremy is a compulsive researcher. He finds a problem, and he’s going to solve it no matter what. He is also a most honest and kind person. I love the way he helps others.”

Jeremy admired Avis’ kindness and compassion.

“She’s also attractive, creative, artistic and organized,” he says.

In December 2000 they were attending a Scandinavian Christmas party and Jeremy won two tickets to Scandinavia. Avis’ daughter lived in Sweden and Avis said, “I’d like to go with you.”

Jeremy answered, “If you want to go together, we’re going to have to get married.”

Avis agreed, and they were married in March 2001.

In 2003 they opened the Allergy Link Clinic together. Half of the patients have autism.

“I work in art therapy, helping with emotional issues and problem solving,” Avis says. “Jeremy treats the body.”

They live in Overland Park. They both enjoy swimming and love activities with their children and grandchildren.

“My family is Scandinavian, and Jeremy is Armenian,” Avis says. “Together we make a better family than we would if we were separate.”

Jeremy had not planned on getting married again. “Things are getting better and more fun every year,” he says.

Avis, too, was surprised by their relationship.

“I was not expecting to be in love again,” she says. “I am truly happy working and living with Jeremy.”

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