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In 1994, Shirley Ann Hillard and Ira Bostic met while working at the Anderson Pretzel Factory. They became engaged in 1997. On Sunday, Feb. 28, they were married at Lancaster General Hospital.

Chaplain Resident Tim Patterson joins the couple in marriage.

They always intended to make it to the altar, but instead their wedding took place in Room 6601 of the Intensive Care Unit.  The next day, newlywed Ira Bostic underwent six bypass heart grafts. His bride waited with family and friends. Shirley says, “I kept my mind focused on a trip to the Poconos for a honeymoon and our dog Bear waiting for us at home.”

“The people here took very special care of us -- heart, body and soul,” says Ira. “It was incredible.”

One of those people was Chaplain Resident Tim Patterson, who had met Ira and Shirley the week before in the ICU.  “When I met them, I could tell they had been together a long time,” Chaplain Tim says.  “Each knew what the other was thinking. And they complemented one another like the yin and the yang. Though it was a distinctive harmony that had grown over time, as an ordained minister, I had to ask why they wanted to be married now.”

They told him quite simply: “We love each other, and we want to face this together as one.”

So Chaplain Tim got right to work.  Because it is required that marriage applicants appear together in person at the marriage bureau for a license, he had to find a county license bureau that could accommodate the couple by coming to the hospital.  The Schuylkill County bureau was ready, willing and able to comply. 

The rest of the impromptu wedding planners consisted of the LGH food services team and nursing staff on 6 East and 6L-ICU, who went about creating a wedding dinner, securing flowers, setting up music and gathering well-wishers and supporters for the 6 p.m. Sunday bedside ceremony.  It went off without a hitch – as did the next day’s open heart surgery, which was performed by Dr. Jeffrey Cope.

Ira is recovering at home now. He has completed his physical therapy and is feeling stronger and confident on his feet. That is, when Bear lets him get up on them. The 80-pound bulldog mix, who seems to think of himself as a lap dog, likes to keep Ira as close as possible, as you can see from this recent LNP feature.
Ira, Shirley and Bear will hit the open road this summer – first to the Poconos in June and then on a cross-country trip to visit family in Utah in July. 

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