A Love Story That Began in the Hospital and Extends to Their Home

They had their first date 25 years ago, and this month marks 22 years since one hospital employee popped the question to the other and she said: “Yes.”

She giggles like she’s still the new nurse meeting her future husband for the first time as she talks about his cologne.

“I was working the night shift. He was delivering pharmacy carts early morning at the end of my shift,” said Barbara Ellis. “I just remember he smelled so good.”

Barbara Ellis was 23 and starting her career as an oncology nurse at IU Health Ball Hospital. Von Ellis was 31 and working as a pharmacy technician. Barbara commuted to Muncie from Rushville. Von grew up in Muncie. He started his career at IU Health Ball Hospital working in dietary and then in OR.

Together the couple has given 62 years of service to IU Health Ball Hospital. They didn’t know back in 1994 that they’d be a couple.

“I didn’t know his name. I just knew he was the pharmacy boy,” said Barbara. “We’re both shy. We’re both introverts. I’m not sure I would have approached her but some of the other nurses sort of helped out,” said Von. In fact, one of the nurses learned that Von likes golf. Barbara tried to talk to him about the sport she knew little about.

But other details are as clear as if they happened today.

Barbara remembers she was in room 5210 and finishing up her shift when she got an unexpected phone call. “It was Von. He called me on the unit and asked if I wanted to go out. I hung up and fell on the floor. I was so excited I yelled, ‘he asked me out,’” said Barbara. They chose a neutral spot to meet up before their date – the hospital – and then had dinner at the former Foxfires Restaurant. Afterward, Von followed Barbara back to Rushville to make sure she got home safely.

“I made the drive every day so it was no big deal. I remember telling my mom that he was following me home. I was so surprised,” said Barbara. Out of that first date, grew a budding romance. Three years later, Von proposed on Valentine’s Day, 1997. They were married the following December on the terrace at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge in the presence of Barbara’s parents and two brothers.

“I was the first in my family to get married; he was the last in his,” said Barbara. The entire ceremony – including Barbara’s wedding day makeup, her white lace dress and floral bouquet, and the processional violinist – were arranged by the theme park planners. They ate a meal with Mickey and Minnie and spent a week honeymooning at the park.

Now the couple – who built a home on a golf course in Selma – is the parents of two boys, Blake a senior and Brandon, a freshman, both students at Wapahani High School. They enjoy long bike rides together, raising chickens and gardening. They are active in their small group at Union Chapel Church and have distributed more than 6,000 children’s bibles in the past three years through a ministry called “Light Their Path.”

Since becoming parents they have changed up their work schedules to accommodate the needs of their boys. They work opposite shifts, opposite weekends, and opposite holidays. They look forward to catching up in the evenings. And a few years ago they returned to Disney – this time with their boys.

“I remember when he asked me to get married. His family and mine have many generations of long marriages,” said Barbara. “I just remember thinking, ‘when I get married, I want to remain married forever.’ We made the right decision.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email tfender1@iuhealth.org.