It has been a relationship 15 years in the making between a lifelong single Sumner County man and a Springfield widow who had been married for more than 28 years prior to her husband’s death.
On Dec. 4, Ken and Janet Ozimek, both in their mid-60s, tied the knot after a two-and-a-half-year courtship that brought two friends together who had unwittingly been building their union of kindred spirits for quite some time.
“I got the best girl in the world, better than I could have possibly imagined,” Ken Ozimek said of his bride Janet.
The Ozimeks first met in 2006 when Janet, who was married to the late Jerry McClain, decided she needed help with her music skills in playing the clarinet with the Robertson County Community Band.
Janet and her late husband quickly befriended Janet’s music teacher and all three of them, always in a group setting, spent time socially together.
But at that time, Janet Ozimek said it was Jerry and Ken who became the biggest buddies.
“After my lessons ended, our friendship continued with Ken,” Janet Ozimek said. “We would go to concerts, the symphony and out to eat. He was always over at our house. But when the three of us would get together, I was along, but it was he and Jerry who became great friends.”
Janet Ozimek said the relationship between her husband and Ken became so close, that when McClain was in his last days of life following cancer, it was Ken who would come to the hospital and pray with him. He also spoke at McClain’s funeral.
Looking back over their years of friendship together, Janet McClain recalls an interesting conversation she had while working in the backyard one day with her late husband.
“He said, ‘Honey if anything ever happens to me, Ken will make you a great husband.’” Janet Ozimek said. “Jerry wasn’t even sick at that point.”
McClain died in December of 2016. He was 24-years older than his wife Janet. They had been married for 28 years.
The first date
It was about a year-and-a-half before Ken Ozimek, of Hendersonville, decided to ask his good friend Janet out on a date.
Though longing to be married one day, Ozimek had been a bachelor his whole life and felt Janet could be someone who could fulfill his dreams.
“I thought, what a lovely Christian person she was,” Ken Ozimek said. “She had so much goodness and holiness about her. I loved her husband. He was one of my best friends. When the three of us spent time together, I always thought of them as a couple. I never imagined marrying her. I found a good friend in her and we had so much in common spiritually.”
On April 14, 2018, Ken Ozimek called Janet and asked her to the symphony.
“I was a nervous wreck on our first date,” Janet Ozimek said. “I was feeling as if I was being unfaithful after being married to Jerry for so long. I was also just scared of dating. After being married for 28 years, it had been a very long time since I had gone out on a date.”
Janet Ozimek said she and Ken found many things in common. They both loved music and would play in the Robertson County Community Band together on occasion.
“He’s such a strong Christian,” Janet Ozimek said about Ken. “I love the way he interacts with people and how he is always very in tune with how God would want him to respond to people.”
Since being married, Janet Ozimek found out that when McClain was alive, he would often tell Ken what a special woman she was.
“I think Jerry was doing some matchmaking,” she said.
On Aug. 28, 2020, on Janet’s 64th birthday, Ken popped the question.
When she opened the tiny box, there was her engagement ring.
“Ken, what does this mean?” she asked. “Honey, what it means is, I’m asking you to marry me,” Ken Ozimek said.
“I had no idea that was coming.” Janet Ozimek said. “I never knew Ken was even thinking about marriage. He never once let me know that he was even thinking in that regard until the day he asked me to marry him. My head was spinning.”
Janet Ozimek believes that her union with husband Ken was an answer of prayer. She recalled that years before, when taking clarinet lessons from Ken, he would discuss his desire to one day to find a wife.
“We had even prayed together for her,” Janet Ozimek said. “We prayed on several occasions that one day God would send a Christian wife for Ken. I never realized we were praying for me.”