Her dad will still be giving her away at her wedding next week, as had been planned before the fateful night of May 4. Being the Greensburg Baptist pastor, he’ll even be the officiating clergy, as had also been in the works.


Her dad will still be giving her away at her wedding next week, as had been planned before the fateful night of May 4. Being the Greensburg Baptist pastor, he’ll even be the officiating clergy, as had also been in the works.
And though she’s being wed next Thursday, rather than Saturday, September 6 isn’t that much of a switch from September 8. Why quibble over the day of the week when you’re getting married on live, syndicated television with millions looking on?
When Jessica George, 22-year-old daughter of Rev. Marvin George of Greensburg’s First Baptist Church, says, “I do” to Roger Harris of Pratt, 21, next Thursday, it will be on the set of the Montel Williams Show in New York. Once the ceremony’s been taped, it will be broadcast later in September, and can be seen on Wichita’s KSAS, airing at 11 a.m.

In a summer that has brought disaster-wrought celebrity for more than a few Greensburg folk, Jessica’s tale of national exposure is one of the least likely.
With the Baptist Church and parsonage leveled by the storm, little remained for her and her family to salvage, with one remarkable exception. Her wedding dress, already purchased and hanging in the house’s basement, was left undamaged and untouched by the mountain of debris that was strewn around it by the monster funnel cloud.
The bride-to-be and her folks were interviewed by ABC News the weekend following the storm, portions of the interview appearing on Good Morning America both Sunday and Monday mornings. Jessica repeated the tale of her unscathed gown before the camera—a remarkable story that made its way to the producers of Williams’ show.
 A few days later one of those producers called Jessica to ask if she and Roger would bewilling toexchange their vows on television. Though they were agreeable, they were less than certain the production would actually take place. Uncertain, that is, until the afternoon of June 12, the day Williams was scheduled to stop by Greensburg’s temporary site of the local hospital to bring complementary supplies, and to sign up locals for his prescription assistance program.
Jessica, Roger and her parents were looking down into the basement of what used to be their home on Walnut Street, searching for a particular item, just about the time Williams’ touring coach hit the city limits.
Moments later she heard a voice she recognized from the airwaves, commenting, “Man, it must be hard to look in an empty hole and imagine what the future will bring.”
Jessica remembers immediately wheeling around, grabbing her fiancée and exclaiming “Montel!” She quickly assented when the familiar face asked for a hug.
“I don’t remember a whole lot after that, except I was crying,” Jessica said recently.
Williams told the couple that since he was getting married himself October 6, he would, in fact, like to bring their wedding party to New York for what was to have been the taping of the wedding. He also told them he was sending them on a spectacular honeymoon, all expenses paid, though they wouldn’t discover their destination until after the program’s completion.
“I guess he really meant that, because I tried to find out the other day, and they won’t breathe a word even to me about where they’re sending them,” Marvin said last Friday.

While Roger, Jessica and her mom, Sandra, seem equally excited over the upcoming trip—a wedding party and guests of no more than 25 take off from Wichita’s Mid Continent early next Tuesday—Rev. George remains a bit more reserved about the matter.
“I don’t know how excited I am about the whole thing,” Pastor George said. “I’ll be as excited about it as I can be. I mean, I don’t want to throw cold water on their parade.”
George is also determined the ceremony he performs will closely resemble the format he’s used dozens of times for other couples.
“They’ve called to ask me to send a copy of the ceremony so they can make sure it fits the timing boundaries,” he said. “I’ll send it in, in a couple of days, and let them make suggestions.”
But how much attention will he pay to any modifications suggested?
“I may adhere to what they suggest,” he said. “It depends on what they want. If they want me to leave God out of the ceremony, forget it.”
Will he give a message, or marital homily? Definitely. How long? His usual is 15 minutes. Could he shorten it in order to fit the time frame of television? “Maybe…yeah, probably.”

While getting married on national television and enjoying a reception in New York before being whisked off to some little spot of paradise, all expenses paid, is far from the usual fare for those tying the knot, the couple’s courtship and engagement has been more traditional, and even charming, than exotic.
After dating for a year, Roger decided he wanted an audience before which to pop the question. He accordingly waited until the conclusion of a production of skits in which he and Jessica were involved last October at Pratt Community College. After presenting the director with a bouquet of flowers for her contribution he turned to Jessica on bended knee to ask her to be his wife, while 120 cast members and friends looked on.
 Before that, however, he’d been to pay her parents a visit, per her instructions.
“We’d talked about getting married before, and I’d told him that asking my parents’ blessing was a prerequisite for proposing,” she said.
Harris, in fact, had been to see Marvin and Sandra the week before, dad thinking he knew the purpose of the visit when he saw the suitor coming up the walk.
 “I had an idea why he was there when I saw he was coming alone,” Marvin said.
Was there any hesitation in granting Harris’s request?
 “Oh no,” Marvin recalls. “I told him right off, ‘You have my blessing, but we’re going to talk about some things.’”
The “talk” lasted “a good hour-and-a-half” according the Rev. George. While he declined to mention the topics covered, dad said he and his wife “did most of the talking, but he was open to what we had to say.”

The day after the wedding, next Friday, everyone but the couple will return to Pratt and Greensburg, where life will go on, though in anything but usual fashion in Kiowa County.
Marvin and Sandra’s new basement has been poured where the other had shielded their daughter’s famed gown, their home possibly ready for habitation by the end of September.
He’s already had one meeting with the building committee to discuss rebuilding the church where the former had once stood at the corner of Florida and Sycamore. Soon they’ll be selecting an architect, Marvin’s hope being the congregation can be using its new worship center “before winter next year.”
By then the trip to New York will have become a well-preserved memory—a testament to the variety of ways in which various folk of Greensburg have had time in the limelight because of May 4, whether or not they welcomed such attention.
More often than not, the attention has sought them out, as was the case for Roger and Jessica. While the attention can be gratifying, it is, in the end, as short-lived as the structures of Greensburg proved to be nearly four months ago
Once it’s passed, day-to-day living resumes, in the company of familiar, if not common faces.
Because of the need to wait until they can take paid vacation time, the couple will delay their expense paid honeymoon for up to a year.
They and their party will return from New York a week from Friday, September 22 the date they’ll enjoy a more pedestrian, but also more gratifying reception in Pratt.
It won’t be the Big Apple But it will be home—a state of mind, as well as a place—both of which hundreds continue to seek to recover here in the middle of Kiowa County.