"Love has no constrictions to it.” – Jim O'Haro
The O'Haros are a Carthage couple, wine entrepreneurs and still very much in love.
Jim and Jan O'Haro live happily with their new-found friend, Ri, an Irish wolfhound, at the White Rose Winery east of Carthage. The bed and breakfast establishment also produces 80 barrels of wine a year, which is an achieved goal for the O'Haros. On Feb. 13, this couple opened a bottle to celebrate their 55th anniversary.
One might ask how they got where they are, and have managed to stay in love for so long. They are more than happy to share.
Jim was in his later years in high school and Jan was 12 years old when they came to know each other at the Baptist Youth Fellowship in Kansas City, Kan.
“I went there because there were more pretty girls,” Jim said with a grin.
Only a few years later, Jim knew Jan as his best friend's girl. Before Jim was deployed in the U.S. Navy in 1955, he got Jan's number from his friend who was also leaving with the U.S. Air Force. While Jim was on leave, he visited the young lady he remembered as a friend.
“When I knocked on the door and she answered, I was done,” Jim said. “I told her on the first date I was going to marry her.”
That Christmas, Jim went to visit Jan with an engagement ring in his pocket. Over the course of seven days, Jim and Jan's romance blossomed into a love that continues today.
“My mother didn't want me married,” Jan said, remembering the difficult times. “But if any young people want to get married, Miami, Oklahoma, is the place to go.”
That's where the two eloped – during a school day for Jan, and the two had to drive back to Kansas City before her parents found out.
“We've been together ever since,” Jan said with a smile.
Life before Carthage
Jim transitioned from regular Navy to civilian work for the Department of Defense in 1962.
The O'Haros lived happily in Alexandra, Va., for about 20 years. Jan said those days as a curator for old homes were busy, but appreciated, as they started adding onto their family.
“All the years have been wonderful, but those years were some of the best,” Jan said.
For a few years after that, they lived in Stover, Mo., and farmed hydroponic greenhouses. Jim also pastored four denominations of churches in that time. For a while, Jim and Jan also lived in Independence, Mo., and grew an electronics business before a friend invited them to come see a special investment in a small town in Southwest Missouri.
Page 2 of 3 - “A friend had bought Park Cemetery in 1998,” Jan said, “and that's what brought us to Carthage – We had no intensions of staying.”
“We found we liked the town, the winters were somewhat mild and it reminded us of Virginia,” Jim added.
A building's transformation
When the O'Haro's first saw the building, that was originally built in the early 1900s that would later become their home, the White Rose Winery and bed and breakfast, they knew they saw their future. For Jim, he fell in love with the Carthage marble walkway, but for Jan it was the staircase inside the house.
“We knew if we didn't save the house it would have been cut up and made into apartments,” Jan said. “Finding this place has been great – finding things for it has been the most fun.”
They moved in Oct. 8, 1998 and Carthage welcomed them whole-heartedly.
“They asked us to do a Christmas Tour,” Jim said, “and we managed to do two years of work in one month to get people in here … Jan had always wanted to do a bed and breakfast, and so we opened it St. Patrick's Day in 1999.”
Then came the winery.
Jim once worked with a man from Italy at a Naval Research Lab. As a Thanksgiving guest of the family, Jim showed keen interest in the family's wine. They were more than willing to share wine-making lessons and tricks.
When the building became a home, then a bed and breakfast, Jim got to work on the 10 acres of land to create an orchard. Jim said out of 100 post holes, only six were able to be dug with an auger.
“There's a lot of stone out there,” Jim said.
“But he says that's what makes the wine so good,” Jan added.
The winery now produces 80 barrels of wine a year.
The O'Haro's have four children, plus one, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. As they sat together in their living room, Jim always had his arm around Jan. The thought of the two separating never crossed their minds.
“It's a problem we have never encountered,” Jim said, “because the most important thing is the other person. All I ever really wanted was her. It's hard for me to relate to someone who doesn't love someone. Love has no constrictions to it. Jan's father once told me, 'if you fall down you get back up,' and I think that applies to love too – And never go to bed mad.”
Jan smiled all through Jim's answers.
“You must put your loved one first,” she said. “Well, Christ comes first, then the greatest thing for me was to be Jim's wife. Next was a mother … I tell my kids to put on my tombstone, 'you made me laugh,'” Jan continued. “My gosh you have to enjoy life and you have to laugh.”
Page 3 of 3 - “I was always proud that she was my wife,” Jim said. “I know that sounds old fashioned, corny, but that's how we are.”
The O'Haro's adopted a rule from some guests about eight years ago called the “Six Second Kiss.” To keep the spark alive for people who live busy lives, the rule is they must kiss for at least six seconds before going to work.
“Because after six seconds you really start getting into it,” Jim said as they both grinned.
There is also a poem the O'Haro's adopted as their own after it was found on a special quest.
Around 1994, the O'Haro's vacationed to Ireland and searched for a bookstore that carried a particular poem. They found it, but with it came another that became just as special to the couple.
“The Red Rose whispers of passion, and the white rose breathes of love; O' the red rose is a falcon, and the white rose is a dove. But I send you a cream white rose-bud, with a flush on it's Petal tips; for the love that is purest and sweetest Has a kiss of desire on the lips.” – John Boyle O'Reilly