Public Proposal

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 4, 2008

AHOSKIE – Many people driving down Memorial Drive on Dec. 22 got quite a startle at what appeared in big black letters on the sign of the Duck Thru convenience store.

People named or nicknamed Jo probably did a double take, because the sign read, &uot;JO WILL YOU MARRY ME?&uot;

Workers inside the store initially told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald they had no idea who Jo was or who was asking her to marry him.

The next day, the sign was updated to say underneath the original phrase, &uot;SHE SAID YES.&uot;

So who is the mystery Jo that possibly thousands of travelers wondered about that day?

She is JoAnne White of Ahoskie, she is employed with University Home Health and Hospice, and she is now officially engaged to Wilbert Blowe, also of Ahoskie.

The two initially met over two decades ago at Ahoskie High School and even went on one date.

It didn’t work out then, but apparently the two retained fond thoughts of each other. A year ago, Blowe, who works at the Ahoskie Body Shop, got her number from a mutual acquaintance and gave her a call.

They went out to eat for their first date this go-round and the rest, as they say, is history.

But how did Blowe get the romance movie-like idea of proposing on a sign for all the world to see?

&uot;She (Jo) said she’d like something exciting, something romantic so I got to thinking and this is what I came up with,&uot; he said.

It was no coincidence that the words were put on the sign on Dec. 22 – it was White’s birthday.

&uot;I gave her earrings earlier in the evening so she thought she’d had her birthday present already and so she wouldn’t get suspicious… she always tries to outguess me, but I outdo her,&uot; Blowe joked.

At 11:30 p.m. after the couple attended a Christmas party, White finally saw her unexpected gift, the proposal.

&uot;He pulled right under the sign and I didn’t even look up at first so he asked me what the price of gas was and I looked up then and saw it… my mouth just dropped open,&uot; she recalled.

Then Blowe reiterated the proposal and presented her with an engagement ring. She said yes.

Blowe said he was acquainted with the owner of Duck Thru and so he called earlier in the day and asked him to put the message on the sign and the owner agreed to have it up by the time the two came back through town.

Blowe added that he knew a lot of people would be calling after seeing the sign up earlier so he took White’s cell phone away from her so the surprise wouldn’t be ruined.

White has two children from a previous marriage, who are 20 and 13, and Blowe has one daughter who is 15.

The two haven’t set a date yet, but are thinking of tying the knot in the second half of the year.

&uot;A lot of people we know are getting married in the summer so we’re trying to pick a month,&uot; White revealed.

They do know that want a small outdoors gathering with just family and a few close friends.