Flint is for lovers: Couples share their stories

FLINT, Michigan—In between all the hustle, bustle, and grit, Flint, like any other city, is one that fosters chance encounters, crushes, and life-long romances. In celebration of Valentine's Day, Flintside sat down with three couples to show that Flint is also a place for lovers.

 

Sharena and Chris Wilson

 

Chris Wilson’s professional football career has taken him and his wife of 14 years, Sharena Wilson, across the country, and even across the border to Canada, but ultimately they settled back home. Although they reside in Davison, they are very muchAlthough they reside in Davison, they are very much a part of the Flint community that brought them together. a part of the Flint community that brought them together. Once a linebacker for the Washington Redskins, Chris is now in management at General Motors while Sharena is a Real estate agent for America’s Premiere Realty and salon owner of the future Signature 12 salon. When they aren’t working, Chris enjoys golf and chess and Sharena loves singing and hosting and decorating for events and gatherings. Both are dedicated and loving parents to their three children.
 
Tell me your love story.
Sharena: We met 20 yrs ago in summer school at Flint Northern. My mom made me go because I got a C in math. We exchanged numbers and started dating on our first date July 4, 2001.

We married in 2006 in Vancouver he was playing ball over there. We eloped we planned to have a wedding one day but life has kept us so busy.
 
What does an average day look like for the two of you?
Chris: When we’re not working or running the kids around we just like to be in the company of good food and loved ones.
 
What are some of your favorite places to spend time in Flint as a couple? 
Chris: If we step out it’s typically to go to an event or celebration of some sort. We enjoy the Capital Theater m, supporting our athletes (especially boxing cards) and pretty much any event put on by Beats x Beers/Beats x Brunch Owner Mr. Brandon Corder.
 
How does Flint fit into your love story?
Chris: Our love story fits into Flint. We both grew up on the north side of town. Though she went to Powers Catholic we met at Flint Northern High School. Our first date was to see the fireworks downtown.
 
What is the best/favorite thing about your significant other?
Sharena: I love Chris’s sincerity, and I love the way he loves me and his family. One thing I know is that he has my back, he is my #1 fan and cheerleader, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Chris: The best thing about Sharena is her natural heart for excellence. Neither Holidays nor average days would be the same without her. I’m normally a content person but I’m always glad after she adds her flavor to our life rather it’s shopping for kids clothes or celebrating holidays I must admit she makes everything better. She also has a strong will and ability to move forward through positive and negative things which I believe makes our love unconquerable!
 
Where do you see yourselves in ten years?
Chris: Ten years from now I see us walking in agreement, fulfilling purpose in our community and establishing a legacy for our family.
 

Nancy and Jim Gallagher

Nancy and Jim Gallagher are about as Flint as you can get. Both born and raised here, they continued to build their lives here in the city, working and residing in Mott Park. Jim is a practical guy who enjoys woodworking and repurposing materials and Nancy is a teacher who loves to garden. Both love going on adventures with their dog Mijo. The two married on February 29 twelve years ago, so even though it’s been 12 years, they’ll be celebrating their third anniversary in 2020.

Nancy and Jim Gallagher sit in their living room with their fur baby Mijo.

Tell me your love story.

Nancy: We met when we were both working at St. John Vianney. We have been together for 34 years and for me it was love at first sight!

Jim: Laughs

 

What does an average day look like for the two of you?

Nancy: We get up really early. We end each day with dinner at the table, music, candles and a glass of wine. In the summer you’ll find us relaxing on the porch.

Jim: I get up, feed the dog, go to work and come home. We feel safe here.

 

What are some of your favorite places to spend time in Flint as a couple?

Nancy: We don’t go out a lot, a favorite takeout spot is La Azteca. We also enjoy shows at the Whiting.

Jim: I preferred to stay home, but we do like Italia Gardens and Ruggeros.

 

How does Flint fit into your love story?

Nancy: I met Jim in Flint, we own a home in Flint. I can’t see us ever leaving.

Jim: I was born and raised in Flint, it’s where we met.

 

What is the favorite thing about your significant other?

Nancy: Jim is very kind-hearted. He makes the bed every morning because he knows it’s important to me! This past Christmas he made seven batches of fudge for friends and neighbors.

Jim: She’s so pretty, I love everything about her. She really cares for the youth of Flint.

 

Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

Nancy: I don’t look that far ahead!

Jim: Six feet under! (laughs) No, still here, fighting the good fight.


Horacio and Maleni Lopez-Padilla


Horacio and Maleni Lopez-Padilla both hail originally from different parts of Mexico but fell in love here in Flint and have been married five years. They are family-oriented, spending every Sunday with extended family over dinner. Horacio is a lover of cars, from wheels to roof where Maleni spends her free time cooking, baking, taking pictures and playing video games. They also have a daughter, Lali, who attends St John Vianney Catholic School here in Flint.

Horacio and Maleni Lopez-Padilla both hail originally from different parts of Mexico but fell in love here in Flint and have been married four years.

Tell me your love story.

Maleni: At first his family didn't like me because I was a single mother and they wanted him to start fresh with his own family but that didn't stop him from seeing me and loving me more. I think that made our relationship stronger.

 

Around 8 years ago I used to work in a little taco place. I really never noticed Horacio coming into the place like twice a week just to see me, until he finally manned up and asked me on a date. Which was funny, because he invited me to a party that he wasn’t even invited to! It was my own niece’s 15th birthday party (quinceñera) and I still said yes.

 

After that, we started talking, long conversations every night, he would sing, (terrible), and read poems to me through the phone cause he wouldn’t say anything face to face because he was super shy, unlike me who’s outgoing and really friendly. At first the idea of me having a daughter used to scare him a lot, he knew it was a really big responsibility. It took us two years to finally move in together. We both worked so hard to buy furniture and make our little nest pretty. Then 5 years ago on Christmas eve, he asked me to marry him and obviously I said yes on September 24, 2016, we had a big ole’ wedding party and since then we’ve been extra happy.

 

What does an average day look like for the two of you?

Maleni: On our days off we are very lazy, especially in the winter time. We can stay in bed until noon and do this hibernation thing the right way! In summer we always have plans from the time we get up until bedtime.

 

What are some of your favorite places to spend time in Flint as a couple?

Maleni: Our favorite places in flint are numbered 1. Red Robins 2. Olive Garden 3. Buffalo Wild Wings

 

How does Flint fit into your love story?

Maleni: Flint has been my home town for the past 15 years and it has treated me really good. Horacio used to live in Grand blanc, but moved here for me. Now, we are living happily ever after with our daughter Lali and two beautiful pets, Daisy the German shepherd 5years old, and Lulú the Pomeranian 2 years old.

 

What is the favorite thing about your significant other?

Maleni: He’s the best at both creating and fixing broken things and I love his seasoning! He makes the best seasoning for cookouts.

Horacio: She is a very special person and a really happy person and tells the best jokes ever! There is never a sad day next to her, but sometimes she gets on my nerves(laughs)

 

Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

Maleni: We’ve been trying to have more kids and haven’t been able to, but we pray for this to happen soon. In ten years we see ourselves traveling. Horacio wants to open either a restaurant or an auto service shop and buy a sports car or a classic car. I see us buying a bigger house with a big yard full of trees where we can watch our kids and dogs running around peacefully.
 

 

Read more articles by Ashley Schafer.

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