Love … Cowboy Style: Woman reunites with her cowboy 50 years later in life

Kyle resident Marylyn Decker-Mitchell is proof that true love never ages, even if it takes nearly 50 years to find it.

Perhaps that’s why Decker-Mitchell, at the age of 87, exhibits a twinkle in her eye and a bright smile when she speaks of her late husband Brad Mitchell, who passed away roughly a decade ago.

But it was the impact Brad Mitchell left on Marylyn that continues to burn in her heart. While the two were only married for a short five-year span, Marylyn contends Brad was the person she believed was her love from the start.

Like many of the best love stories, Marylyn and Brad’s tale began while the two were classmates at San Marcos High in the early 1940s.

Marylyn, who was the daughter of longtime Hays County Judge Charles Decker, recalled a young man who was “always there pestering me” and continually driving her crazy.

That young man constantly asked Marylyn who she was dating and was always trying to gather information about her.

At the time, Marylyn wasn’t interested and didn’t give that young man the time of day. Marylyn said she was fixated on dating “college boys.”

She also sought to find herself a cowboy, as her father and brothers were cowboys themselves.

“He and his best friend about drove me up the wall,” Marylyn said. “I thought he was such a kid. He was immature.”

Eventually Brad and Marylyn graduated from San Marcos High and went their seperate ways. Marylyn ended up enrolling at Southwest Texas State Teacher’s College, now known as Texas State University.

It was during one fateful summer that Marylyn crossed paths with a student from Texas A&M University who was visiting the area. The young college student’s charm was enough to sway Marylyn, who “got fascinated” and dropped out of college to marry him.

For the next 40 years, Marylyn and her husband lived together and went through life’s trials and tribulations.

But Marylyn had a notion the man she married “wasn’t the cowboy I thought he was.”

Eventually, Marylyn decided she wanted to do “better by myself” and ended up divorcing her first husband.

“I thought I could handle things by myself,” Marylyn said.

Fate, as it often does, stepped in once again for Marylyn.

When she moved back to the Central Texas area, Marylyn began attending San Marcos High reunions. She then helped to reach out to classmates and tried to contact them.

But Marylyn never heard from that young man who always pestered her in high school. That man never responded to her and never answered letters.

“He never answered letters about high school reunions, so I decided, by golly, I would get in touch with him,” Marylyn said. “That was his downfall.”

Marylyn discovered Brad had suffered a stroke in his life, but it never kept him off of his horse. He continued to ride and continued to live the frontier life.

She discovered Brad came from a lineage that goes back to Stephen F. Austin’s “Old 300,” which were some of the first settlers who migrated into Mexico in the 1800s.

Brad’s family “didn’t have acres, but sections” out in West Texas. She realized Brad grew up on the range and “knew more about horses and cattle than I did.”

Eventually, at the tender age of 72, the two married on the front porch of Marylyn’s childhood home on FM 150 in 2003.

Even as Alzheimer’s took its toll on Brad, Marylyn said he never lost his sense of humor. His impact on others was also apparent as well. Marylyn recalled the influx of nurses at Brad’s nursing home who signed letters of support to her after his death.

“I found out that’s the cowboy I should have married from the start,” Marylyn said. “He’s a keeper.”

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