Our town boasts an adventurous couple that can go from being muddy on the shooting range to being all dressed up in a tuxedo and ball gown in less than 30 minutes for a vigorous evening of ballroom dancing.
Meet Kathleen Palyo, a nurse practitioner with Lutheran Medical Group who achieved her doctorate in nursing practice last year from Ball State University, and George Izso, a recently-retired Michelin Tire industrial electrician.
By Palyo's own admission, she was someone who loved dancing, jewelry and fitness training, but, most of all, being a mom to her now-grown children, Jennifer and Matthew, whom she considers her “greatest accomplishments.”
Prior to meeting Iszo, Palyo was a runner, cross-trainer and ballroom dancer who competed at local, regional and national competitions. In 2006, Women's Day magazine ran a feature on her weight loss (she topped 300 pounds in 1998) achieved through nutrition, exercising and dancing.
“Before I met George, I never really felt like a lady,” said Palyo. “He is the first person to treat me like a lady – always opens my door, walks on the outside of the sidewalk and is thoughtful in so many other ways.”
The couple met at the Fort Wayne chapter of USDancesport 10 years ago at a dance at IPFW but didn't officially begin dating until July 19, 2011.
“We would dance a few swing dances throughout the evening, but, when the last waltz was played – Anne Murray's 'Could I Have This Dance?' — we would always find each other across the ballroom and dance the waltz together,” said Palyo. “The waltz is George's favorite dance; he has some special moves and now we are dancing all our waltzes together!”
Then the sun grew even brighter.
“When we began dating, I saw how much George loved the outdoors,” said Palyo. “I wanted to learn to do all his favorite activities like hunting, fly fishing, kayaking, canoeing, cycling, camping, sailing and target shooting. He even ties his own flies and loads his own bullets.
“He said I didn't have to do these things,” she continued, “but I felt that participating in his preferred leisure interests would allow me to spend more time with him. In order to pull my own load, I continue my cross-training to build strength and endurance so I can help lift and carry the canoe George built. We are Team Izso!
“There is a beautiful stillness that comes from bonding with nature, and now I know why George is such a peaceful person,” she added.
Kayaking was the first solitary outdoor sport to which Izso introduced Palyo. One by one, others followed — sailing on his restored 41-year-old, 23-foot sailboat at Lake Erie, canoeing, hunting, camping, fishing and more.
The couple, who recently returned from Aruba, also enjoy traveling, both here and overseas.
After two years of intimacy with Mother Nature, “I can easily do these activities solo,” Palyo said. “But it is much more fun with him; he is a very thorough and supportive teacher.”
Bringing his al fresco gourmet cooking talents to the camp site, Izso will often pack such delicacies as frozen lobster, meats and veggies, and cook them in an 8-inch cast-iron Dutch oven when camping. Freshly-caught fish from nearby waters add to the dining adventure, thanks to the prowess of both “happy hookers.”
Izso's knowledgeable instruction has enabled Palyo to become proficient in fly tying.
“What is challenging is deceiving the trout into taking a fly that I made myself,” said Palyo.
Iszo, who owns six kinds of watercraft (kayaks, canoes, inflatable pontoons, and a bass boat), has gifted Palyo with a single-seat pontoon boat, two guns, a fly rod, hiking boots, summer and winter fishing gear, a fly-tying vise and equipment to tie her own flies.
In addition, Iszo, an accomplished jewelry maker, also knows his way around a sewing machine (he now owns seven sewing machines, including an old Singer treadle), and Palyo is frequently the gratified recipient of lovely attire created by her own “Renaissance Man.”
“My mother owned a Custom Alterations Shop and made clothes,” said Izso. “Some of the clothes I've sewn myself include ladies' tops, such as halters and sheer blouses, and I also make dichroic glass ladies' jewelry. I made a piece for Kathy that is a pink Oriental-style emblem against a white background, which she feels takes on the colors of whatever she is wearing at the time. I also made a dressy designer blouse and a sarong for her.”
The couple, who are not married, are having the time of their lives, borne of a shared devotion for the great outdoors.
“I hope I can serve as a model for other women to take an interest in, and foster a love for, the solitary outdoor sports that their significant others enjoy,” said Palyo. And Izso, who calls Palyo his “mermaid” because their first date was a dip in the pool, agreed.
“My life is better than it has ever been since Kathy has been in it,” he said. “Together, we harbor an incredible reverence for nature. We think alike and say that one day we won't even have to talk; we will communicate telepathically,” concluded Izso.