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Security separates 96-year-old man from bride

A 96-year-old Utah man who outlived two wives is separated from his third — by the Canadian border.
Image: Leonard "Woody" Woodward
Leonard "Woody" Woodward, 96, shown here Thursday at his home in Provo, Utah, says he doesn't know quite what to do with all the paperwork and the process to try to get his wife, Doreen, back to the United States.Ashley Franscell / Provo Daily Herald
/ Source: staff and news service reports

A 96-year-old man who outlived two wives is separated from his third — by immigration problems.

Canadian Doreen Buttery, 73, was a temporary visitor when she met Leonard "Woody" Woodward at a senior center in Provo. They wed this year and honeymooned in Alberta — which gave Buttery the chance to sell her house and prepare to move to Provo permanently.

But she hadn't filled out the paperwork to immigrate and was stuck at the border as her husband took the bus back to Provo.

"We tried to provide her as much guidance as we could," said Larry Overcast, port director at the Customs and Border Protection entry point in Sweetgrass, Mont.

Woodward and a neighbor who has a law degree are trying to put together the paperwork to bring Doreen back. But it's a complicated process that takes time.

"It's on a merry-go-round," Woodward said.

Buttery will also have to go through an interview, so U.S. officials can determine the marriage is legitimate and not just an attempt to bypass immigration rules.

After Woodward's first wife died in 1986, he remarried a few months later, the Provo Daily Herald reported. His second wife died in 2005, when he was 93, and he began looking again almost immediately. "He's just not one to be alone," his son, Leon Woodward of Mapleton, told the Daily Herald.

It took him three years to find Buttery at the Eldred Senior Center in Provo where they both lunched occasionally, the Daily Herald reported. She had come from Canada to serve a part-time service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

After their marriage in the Provo Mormon temple, which was reported last month in the Daily Herald, Woody was sure his loneliness was over.

And now this, with no end in sight.

Woodward said can still get by on his own, but he doesn't like it.

"It's not good for a man to be alone," he said, adding, "I need her home, bad."