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Father Stands Up for Marine Son in Desert Shield

December 10, 1990

LOLO, Mont. (AP) _ Marine Sgt. Paul Flemmer is somewhere in the Persian Gulf, but he and the former Rhonda McWilliams were married here over the weekend anyway.

Flemmer’s father, Del Flemmer, stood in for his eldest son under a state provision that allows proxy weddings.

″I haven’t got married for 30 years,″ the elder Flemmer quipped just before exchanging vows Saturday with his daughter-in-law-to-be, Rhonda McWilliams, 25, of nearby Stevensville.

The wedding was arranged by mail, telephone and a legal power-of-attorney. ″Usually, when the groom doesn’t show up for the wedding, the wedding is off,″ said the Rev. Gale Fister, who conducted the ceremony at Lolo Community Church.

Flemmer and Miss McWilliams, who have a 1-year-old son, were scheduled to be married Aug. 30 and Flemmer had been granted a 30-day leave for the occasion. The couple had even purchased a house in Stevensville, the 25-year- old bride’s home.

Flemmer’s leave was canceled abruptly after Iraq invaded Kuwait Aug. 2. He was sent from his duty station at El Toro, Calif., to the Persian Gulf on Aug. 27.

But the bride was determined to have a wedding, with or without the groom.

″We’d heard about the possibility of a proxy wedding, but the (Marine Corps) chaplain in California said it couldn’t be done,″ she said.

Montana is one of the few states that allows proxy weddings.

The power of attorney gave Paul’s father the legal right to act as his son’s deputy or agent.

Family members said they would send Flemmer newspaper clippings, a tape recording, a videotape and photos of the wedding.

″When Paul gets back, we’ll do it the right way,″ his bride said.

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