A wedding gown with a history
FAMILY TRADITION Pictured above is the 50-year-old wedding dress first worn by Charlene Windmeyer in 1954. Over the years, eight other brides in her family have also worn the dress. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Penny Randall / staff writer
July 4, 2004
Charlene Windmeyer's wedding gown is sealed in an airtight box and packed neatly away on a shelf in her walk-in closet.
Charlene wore the gown more than 50 years ago on June 19, 1954, when she wed W.A. Windmeyer at Grace Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas.
After her wedding, Charlene cleaned her gown and packed it away hoping one day she would have a daughter, and her daughter would wear the gown, too.
Charlene moved to Meridian with her husband in 1959. And, the now-retired mother and grandmother has seen her gown become a family tradition. Eight other brides have worn the gown over the years, making Charlene a happy woman.
Charlene said she always wanted a store-bought gown.
The gown is simple yet elegant with long lace sleeves, a scooped neckline and a lace overlay covering the skirt. Charlene doesn't remember exactly what the dress cost.
Recently, the Windmeyers celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a reception. And, yes, the dress was in attendance also, on display for family and friends along with photos of all the brides who have worn the gown on their wedding day.
Charlene's best friend
The next bride to wear the dress, in 1955, was her church and school friend, Marvell Ann Ferrell.
Then came Charlene's sister, Nanette, who strolled down the aisle in the gown in 1959 when she married William McGee.
The fourth bride was Nanette's best friend, Bobbye Scarbrough Dunnam.
Can I wear your gown?'
Bobbye said she had only a month to plan her wedding to H.C. Dunnam and decided she would wear a knee-length wedding dress.
On Dec. 19, 1959, Bobbye took her father's arm to walk down the aisle in Charlene's dress.
Bobbye wanted to express her appreciation to Mama Rushing for her generosity. Unlike most brides, she didn't change out of the gown after the ceremony. She left the church in the gown and stopped at Mama Rushing's home to show her the gown and say thanks.
Linda Scott Rushing became the fifth bride to wear the gown in 1964.
From 1964 to 1975, the gown waited in Charlene's closet for the next bride. That bride was Charlene's oldest daughter, Christy, who wed in 1975. Four years later, the dress would make another appearance.
Charlene's youngest daughter, Cindy, was the seventh bride to wear the dress on Aug. 25, 1979, when she wed Patrick Alday at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Meridian.
Cindy, who has one son, hopes the tradition continues.
Charlene's niece, Tammy McGee Nash, was the eighth bride to wear the gown, followed by Judy Cauldwell in fall 2000.
Judy wed Charlene's grandson, Kimbrell C. Woodrick, in a garden ceremony in Charlene's back yard.
But Charlene has plans for the gown just in case there are no more brides who want to wear it.