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After tragedy, a new beginning


Thirty-three-year-old Bill Fausnet Jr. has experienced more than his share of life's sorrows. Four years ago, his father fell from a ladder and is now a quadriplegic. Two months after his father's injury, Bill's first wife was diagnosed with cancer.

In January 1997, Lynley Martin Fausnet was 26. She and Bill had been married for less than two years when Lynley found a lump in her breast. In the months that followed, she underwent radiation and chemotherapy as well as a mastectomy.

It appeared that the cancer was gone, Bill says, but a year later, it was back. Lynley died in 1999, and Bill, then 31, was widowed at an age when some people are just thinking about settling down.

Bill worked as an automotive technician and computer-systems administrator at the Len Stoler car dealerships in Owings Mills. And that's where he met Linda Wasiljov. Linda was a cashier at Len Stoler's Lexus dealership. She didn't know Bill, but months earlier, when a co-worker came around collecting donations on Lynley's behalf, Linda gave willingly.

After Lynley died, Bill noticed Linda at work and asked a friend about her. On Valentine's Day 2000, he took her to lunch at a diner across the street from the dealership. Before they left, Bill presented her with roses.

He worried that the gesture might seem too forward, but Linda was charmed. "It was the first time anyone had given me flowers," she says.

They agreed to go out again, and soon they were dating. Bill told Linda about Lynley and her battle with cancer, and how he was afraid he might somehow hurt her family, whom he remained close with, by falling in love again.

Fortunately, Lynley's parents and the rest of her family welcomed Linda from the start.

"Bill is young, and no one wanted him to be alone for the rest of his life," says Lynley's mother, Karen Martin. "He was good to my daughter and we certainly felt he deserved a life."

After losing Lynley, Karen Martin explains, they didn't want to lose Bill as well. So they were happy that Linda accepted them as part of Bill's extended family.

"I've tried to make it clear that it's always OK for them to talk about Lynley," Linda says. "The last thing I want to do is pretend that she didn't exist."

Linda and Bill got engaged last May, during lunch at the diner where they had their first date. The couple married May 5 at St. Mark's-on-the-Hill in Pikesville. They are both movie buffs (Linda is an aspiring screenwriter), so their reception in Westminster had a movie theme. The candy favors included quotes from the couple's favorite films. And they presented an "Oscar" to the friend who made Linda's wedding gown.

Linda, 25, works part time as a wedding videographer as well as full time as a secretary for a law firm in Owings Mills.

Karen and Dick Martin were invited to the wedding. As happy as they were for the couple, Karen says, they chose not to attend. Instead, they spent the day with Jon and Kathy Rudolf, an Ohio couple hiking the Appalachian Trail in Lynley's memory. Jon and Bill are close friends.

Since Lynley's death, Bill has made a continued effort to raise awareness about the importance of cancer research. Last year, he and some of Lynley's friends walked in her memory in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's annual "Race for the Cure." This year, Bill sponsored Karen Martin's walk.

It was Linda who suggested that she and Bill have an "apron dance" at their wedding in memory of Lynley and in honor of others they know who are battling cancer. At the reception, guests lined up to "pay" to dance with the bride in a popular wedding custom. The money collected was donated to the Komen Foundation in Lynley's name.

"It's just so very important to have this money because someday you might be the person who needs to have this medicine," Bill says.

Donations to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in Lynley Martin Fausnet's memory may be sent to P.O. Box 650309, Dallas, Texas 75265-0309. The foundation can also be contacted at 800-462-9273 or on the Web at Donations should note Lynley's name.


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