This Denver Couple Met Through a 1991 Westword Personal Ad | Westword
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Love at First Read: This Couple Met Through a 1991 Westword Romance Ad

Margerie Hicks and Doug Schuler spent years telling people how they met through a Westword personal, but didn't keep the proof.
Margerie Hicks and Doug Schuler show off the Westword ad that brought them together.
Margerie Hicks and Doug Schuler show off the Westword ad that brought them together. Westword
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When Doug Schuler picked up the August 22 issue of Westword back in 1991, he wasn't looking to find a romantic partner — let alone someone he'd want to spend the rest of his life with.

"I knew the ads were back there; I read Westword almost weekly," he says. "But it was never on my mind. I just picked it up and, you know, started reading."

Margerie Hicks, a 45-year-old living in Park Hill at the time, was already leading "a full life" complete with teenage kids and memorable experiences — like cycling through the Rocky Mountains — when she placed a Romance personal on a whim one night after being egged on by a friend.

"Westword had these little Romance parties, where you could go to someplace — I think it was usually a bar — and a speaker would give some ideas of what you might want to say in the ad that was meaningful," Hicks remembers. "And so a friend of mine said, 'Oh, let's go to this party.' So I went along with her."

Personal ads were a big part of alternative weeklies in the days before digital publications and online dating. Readers who attended the Westword parties could place personal ads in the Romance section for free. Hicks figured it wouldn't hurt to have fun with one.

"I laugh at Dave Barry and Calvin Trillin," she wrote in her opening line.

"I cry over a problem which I can't help one of my teen-agers solve. I am content working a crossword puzzle and listening to Garrison Keillor on a Sunday morning. I get angry over the elitist policies of George Bush and his ilk. I'm a pushover for flowers and other thoughtful gestures. I get frustrated at another rejection letter from a publisher. I avoid smoke. I'm irreverent about most social conventions. I sing in the shower. In addition, I'm 45, 5'11", have great legs, am told I look like Sigourney Weaver, am agnostic, like the performing arts, am physically active but do not make recreation a life focus and am learning emotional intimacy. I'm looking for a man with whom to share thoughts, joys, and sorrows. Someone who puts his energies into one relationship at a time, has recovered from all relationships, and is emotionally available. Someone who is socially concerned, outwardly involved, and has a sense of purpose. Someone who is intelligent, educated, and has a sense of humor. Someone who respects that responsible adults bring adult responsibilities to a relationship. I already lead a full life, so I'm not looking for someone to fill a void, but to be the icing on the cake."

Schuler, who was 55 at the time and living in Lakewood, saw the ad in Westword and was smitten. He had just sent his youngest son away to college and had recently gotten divorced — a perfect time for finding love later in life.

"There were a bunch of things that caught my eye," he says of Hicks's ad. "One was, 'I am physically active but do not make recreation a life focus.' She had a nicer bike than I did! So I called her up and said, 'Let's try a first date and go on a bike ride.'"
click to enlarge A romance ad in Westword back in 1991.
Margerie Hicks's romance ad ran in an August 1991 issue of Westword.
Margerie Hicks

The two agreed to meet at the old Forney Museum of Transportation, at 1416 Platte Street (now REI), and ventured off together along the South Platte River Trail — but not before nearly getting derailed by a minor mixup.

"At the time, REI was the Forney Museum. And we were going to meet there on our bikes in the parking lot," Hicks recalls. "Well, there are two parking lots — one on each side of the building — and one of us was waiting on one side and one on the other. And we almost didn't connect. I was really getting annoyed."

"I was on the other side in the parking lot where the parking garage is," Schuler adds. "Finally, I got on my bike and started riding around in the street a little bit ...and then there's this woman, with a bicycle outfit, bicycle clothes, leaning on the corner of the building. I said, 'Are you Margerie?' And she said yeah, and I said, 'Well let's go!'"

Schuler and Hicks went on to date regularly, but took things (very) slow. "After fifteen years, we decided to move in together," Hicks says, laughing. "It was completely fine. There was no reason why we needed to live together."

Sometime between 2007 and 2008, the couple bought a condo together at the Museum Residences in the Golden Triangle, but they were still splitting their time together between the new place and their old residences. Hicks said the permanent move-in happened after Schuler suffered a shoulder injury that forced her to spend lots of time with him — something she liked, surprisingly.

"He had a ski accident and broke his shoulder and couldn't do anything," she says. "He couldn't even zip his pants, so he stayed with me. It was actually kind of nice, so we just stayed [together]."

Over the years, Hicks and Schuler wound up forgetting what her ad had said. It wasn't until late last year that they finally reached out to check the Westword archives.

"We were telling some friends about how we met, and they said, 'Well, what did the ad say?' And neither of us could remember it," Hicks says. "So we decided it was finally time to do it." They found it in Westword's bound volume of issues from 1991.   

Looking back at their relationship, going on outdoor adventures and having other exciting experiences — like becoming grandparents — has filled Hicks and Schuler's lives and memory banks to the brim. But the smaller moments often seem to be the most meaningful.

"I really enjoy sharing the little things, like: 'The tomatoes are ripening now, we've got to pick them,'" Hicks says. "I mean, just all those little things that make up our lives. A lot of those things we have in common."
click to enlarge A man and woman, Margerie Hicks and Doug Schuler, posing together for a picture.
Hicks and Schuler have been together for more than three decades now.
Margerie Hicks
Did Hicks turn out to be the woman portrayed in her Westword ad? Is she still that same person all these years later? "Absolutely," says Schuler. "She's still my Sigourney Weaver."

The couple hopes that others in relationships will read their story and see how it's possible to grow and build a life together while not having to start from scratch.

"We had to meld our lives together," Schuler says. "We're still watering the plant."

"Anybody, regardless of their age," Hicks adds. "I always say get involved in something that you're really interested in — whether it's volunteering or politics or something where you're likely to meet other people who have those same interests."

Coming up with a fun and witty romance ad was her way of finding someone with those same interests. The rest was fate.

Concludes Schuler: "Me just picking up the paper — picking up this particular issue this week and reading it and coming across this particular ad — it was meant to be."

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