“It’s always been a passionate relationship with its ups and downs,” Mark Hammons said.
It all started when Mark met Melissa Ritzhaupt on Facebook around 13 years ago. Their first date turned into a double date when Mark’s cousin and wife showed up at his house not knowing Melissa was over for dinner.
It continued with Mark and Melissa spending a lot of time talking on the phone. “We always had good chemistry and had a lot in common,” said Mark. “I knew she was the one after only 3 months of dating.”
Their wedding was at a chapel in Las Vegas, Nevada, with just the two of them. Then there was their first out-of-state trip to Jacksonville, Florida, where they rented a Corvette, and there was a first anniversary trip to Seattle, Washington, where a couple of strangers paid for their dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
“Those are some of our favorite memories together,” Mark said.
Now married 11 years, Mark and Melissa have slowed down, but only slightly. Together, they have two sons – Keagan, 15, and Kyler, 9 – and three grandsons – Kade, 7, Grayson, 6, and Kash, 5. Mark also has three children from a previous relationship – Kristin, 30, Kenzy, 25, Nicholas 22.
“Melissa does everything for the kids,” Mark said. “She always goes above and beyond to make ballgames, school events, and take them to all their activities. She helps with homework and makes sure they have great birthday parties.”
Melissa prioritizes time spent with Kade, Grayson, and Kash, as well. “She loves the grandkids and spoils them like crazy!” said Mark.
Born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, to George and Rhonda Ritzhaupt, Melissa is a former teacher who has excelled in her role as a full-time mother and grandmother.
“I admire her devotion to family and loyalty to friends,” Mark said. “She is a beautiful woman who has a good sense of humor and is willing to do anything for those she loves.”
Together, Mark and Melissa enjoy traveling, spending time in the pool, watching a good TV show, and going to Las Vegas for an occasional night on the town.
“She keeps me on my toes and pushes me to keep growing in my career,” Mark said. “Melissa teaches me to be compassionate and I’m forever grateful that she never gave up on me.”
This Valentine’s Day, Mark hopes that Melissa will understand how much she means to him through all the ups and downs of life.
“I’m thankful for the friend, wife, mother, and grandmother that she turned out to be,” said Mark. “I love her more than anything.”