Parachute dress works for war bride


William J. “Bud” Lomax and June Jugenheimer didn’t have a traditional 1940s courtship.

Although the two wrote letters during WWII, their first date was only two days after they officially met. Bud proposed during that date at The Mansion on Logan Avenue in Youngstown, and the couple has been married for nearly 65 years.

But that’s only the beginning of a story that spanned two continents during a World War and led to an unusual wedding.

Bud and June met through Bud’s sister, Alberta, who was a secretary at the St. Elizabeth Hospital’s nursing school in Youngstown where June attended. At the time, Bud was home on leave from the U.S. Army.

“After that, Bud called me to ask if he wrote to me, would I write to him,” June said. “So we wrote to each other.”

On Bud’s next trip home in the summer of 1944, he proposed to June. The young bride-to-be decided to join the Army, but during her training in Indiana, she got terrible news: Bud had been wounded in Germany on Nov. 26, 1944. She applied for service in Europe so she could rejoin Bud, who was recuperating in England.

“When I got to England (in May 1945), I called the hospital and they said he had just been transferred back to France, near the French Riviera,” June said.

Bud — who wasn’t able to go to the Pacific, but didn’t meet Army requirements to go home — was working as an accountant at the Army PX in Nice, France. June received a transfer to a military hospital near the Bud and the two made plans to marry.

Their nuptials were in post-WWII France, and resources were scarce. June’s wedding dress was made from a nylon parachute and designed by her friend and fellow nurse Lt. Virginia Wells.

“You couldn’t get buttons or zippers then,” June said. “We gathered up a bag of candy and cigarettes and bartered for materials.”

The buttons on the dress were made from cardboard and June’s shoes were borrowed from a Red Cross worker. One of June’s fellow nurses was dating a pilot, Capt. Roy Martin, who donated the parachute for the dress and flew to Paris to buy the veil.

Just before the wedding, June was transferred to a hospital in Reims, France. Martin flew into Reims from Germany, bringing Wells who was June’s bridesmaid. Martin, Wells and June got in the German Messerschmitt 109 plane to go to Nice, where the wedding was supposed to be. The weather was so bad that no other planes were taking off, June said.

Although the trio made it to Nice, it was too late for the wedding. In France, the couple needed to be married by the mayor before a religious ceremony and by the time June arrived, the mayor’s office was closed.

The next day, Oct. 23, 1945, Bud and June were married at the mayor’s office and then at the American Episcopal Church.

June returned to the U.S. in February 1946 and Bud returned the next month. The two attended Miami University of Ohio on the G.I. Bill, but June decided to have children and stopped classes before earning a degree.

Bud went on to work as an accountant with Axtmann and Loxax Inc. and was a director of the Western Reserve Bank. After their three children grew up, June became the director of volunteer services at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Bud, 86, and June, 87, are retired and reside on Hamilton Avenue in Poland, the same house they’ve lived in since 1953. June still has her wedding dress and veil.

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