Before Stevie and Sazan, there was Bill and Anna…This is their untold love story.
It was a sunny afternoon in 1927 at a racetrack in Shanghai, China, when Bill, a 23-year-old boy from Kansas, and Anya “Anna”, a 21-year-old girl from Armenia, locked eyes for the first time.
Their hearts were racing a million times louder than the horses on the track as they encountered “love at first sight.” After they exchanged glances, they couldn’t help but notice each other. In a crowd of people, it was like no one else was there. Just the two of them completely and madly smitten for each other. When the race ended, they mustered up the courage to come face-to-face with each other, but little did they know - there an obstacle waiting at the starting line.
Anna spoke Russian. Bill did not. If you’ve ever tried having a conversation with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you, then you know ‘small talk’ isn’t really an option. But somehow the awkward exchange and language barrier didn’t keep them away. It was the small moment they felt without any words. A moment that would leave a mark on their hearts forever.
They learned each other's languages, and in 1929 they were married. Shortly after, Anna would leave her family to move stateside with Bill. Prior to marriage, Anna was always on the move, never planting roots anywhere or knowing where to call home. Anna spent most of her life fleeing from country to country, escaping genocide with her family. She was a survivor. Bill had spent a great deal of his life working hard and seeking adventure. He lived to see life in color, and loved art. He was a fearless man. Before joining the navy, he performed as a boxer, earning him the nickname: The Fighting Artist.
When faced with their differences in language and cultural backgrounds, Bill had found in Anna an adventure worth fighting for. In Bill, Anna had found a person to call home.
Their relationship was forged in the fires of difficulty, and they faced many trials throughout it. Bill remained in the navy for a total of 26 years, resulting in long stints of time spent apart. Their marriage encountered both hard and good, and when they found themselves pushed close to the edge, they always chose to hold on to each other.
When faced with adversity, Bill and Anna chose each other repeatedly for a lifetime.
They were married for 45 years, and blessed with three beautiful children. They knew that the best life was one spent together and they fought for that life everyday.
Bill and Anna were Stevie’s great-grandparents. While they never got the chance to see us, they will always be a part of our story. Family history gives us a sense of who we are and where we are going. We cherish the story of Bill and Anna, their love and their commitment to be together. We wouldn’t be here today if they didn’t pave the way. Their legacy continues to inspire our mission. Their love taught us that adversity can open new, surprising, wonderful moments of connection, joy and love. Maybe you’re fighting the race for something good in your life right now. We get it, we’ve lived through a lot of broken. If you open your heart to what broken can bring, it’s possible you can find blessings and memories and love.
Cheers to Bill + Anna Hendrix... forever.
Stevie & Sazan
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I really enjoyed your story about your GG parent’s love story! Thank you for sharing. I love love ! God bless you and your whole family.
Love this ❤️ My great grandparents were genocide survivors too.
Beautiful love story. Love has no boundaries!!! Much love all the way from a Kurdish girl in The Netherlands!!
I have watched Stevie & Sazan from afar with total awe of their sweet love story and the babies, Sweetie, Teeny, and Amari. This love story of their relatives adds even more warm feels for that sweet family! Thanks for sharing!
Stories like this makes you want to fight for the one you love. I also love your love story Stevie & Sazan. You guys make me think that true love does exist. I come from a broken Marriage which caused a lot of pain!? I also was a single mother of a beautiful girl-now is is 28. I never had the love that a couple should have for their kids. This is why I admire you both so much. You both are an inspiration-best of luck to both of you. A big hug to both of your daughter’s.