Kenny Rogers asked for his number to be passed on to Wanda Miller, but she thought it was a joke. "They gave me a piece of paper with a number on it. I threw it away," she recalled.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on March 22, 2021. It has since been updated.
Like a lot of people, Kenny Rogers met the love of his life on a blind date. But unlike a lot of people, he ironically wound up marrying someone that wasn't the woman he went out with for dinner that night.
The singer had gone to a restaurant in Atlanta with his date, but he didn't feel much of a spark and thought the evening wouldn't go anywhere. On the same night, a college student waitressing at the restaurant happened to be talking to her maître d' and complaining about not meeting anyone she could date. But the maître d' assured the waitress she would find someone, and she carried on with her shift.
By chance, Rogers saw the same waitress while he was on his blind date and instantly felt like there was something special about her.
"[My date and I] had chosen a little Italian restaurant called Pricci and were in the middle of our 'getting to know each other” banter when the hostess walked by our table,'" Rogers said in his book, Luck or Something Like It, as quoted by CheatSheet. "I’m honestly not sure she even looked at me, but I saw her. I don’t know what and I don’t know why, but there was just something incredibly different about her from the minute I saw her. She had a smile, not a hostess smile, but something more genuine, and believe it or not, it rocked me to my core."
Later that night, right after dropping his blind date, Rogers rang up the restaurant and found that the waitress he was smitten by was Wanda Miller. The singer left his phone number with the restaurant manager and requested for it to be given to Miller during her next shift.
"I came in the next day and they all said, Kenny Rogers called asking about you," Miller recalled as she spoke to Valdosta Daily Times. "They gave me a piece of paper with a number on it. I threw it away. I thought it was a joke. They dug it out of the trash and said it was for real. I called him back but I never thought I would date him."
22 years married and 27 years together! Happy Anniversary Wanda! pic.twitter.com/Aw2liA0RkR— Kenny Rogers (@_KennyRogers) June 1, 2019
Despite her initial thoughts, Miller did end up falling for him. And after four failed marriages, Rogers had found the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, which is exactly what he did. The couple went on to date for five years before tying the knot in 1997, and they remained together until the singer passed away in March 2020.
"She is my soul mate," Rogers told Reuters in the past about his beloved wife, 28 younger than him, with whom he had two sons, in addition to three other children from his previous marriages.
As he gushed about Miller back then, Rogers said, "She knows me better than anyone else has known me. She loves what I do and I’m not as insensitive to her needs as I may have been in the past."
With a year having passed since the world lost the award-winning artist, Miller shared a special tribute to the man she spent more than two decades happily married to.
"A year ago.. our lives changed forever... but as KR always said..'you’re never gone until you’re forgotten'" Miller wrote on Instagram "...We will always love you."
Celebrating the singer's memory a year after he passed away from natural causes at the age of 81, his family and team also wrote a special message to honor him.
"It’s so hard to believe it’s been a year since Kenny left us. As you can imagine, some days are better than others, so we wholeheartedly thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and support over the last year," said the message on Instagram. "No matter what we’re going through on any particular day, we know we will never stop missing him, and we’ll forever celebrate the person he was and his extraordinary musical legacy. We can all take some comfort in knowing the music lives on!"
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Erika Goldring / Stringer