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A missing Texas couple led to our Song of the Day for June 28

Raymond & Lela Howard, Austin, Texas

A missing couple led to our Song of the Day, “The Way.”

 Every year Raymond and Lela Howard looked forward to going to a fiddling festival 15 miles from their Belton, Texas, home.

Raymond was 87 and Lela was 83 when they settled into their car Saturday, June 28, 1997. Lela, who had shown signs of dementia, got into the driver’s seat. Raymond, who was recovering from brain surgery after an auto accident, rode shotgun.

They never returned home. Family and authorities searched for 13 days before finding them 350 miles away in Arkansas, dead. Hikers found their car at the bottom of a 25-foot ravine. Inexplicably, Raymond was in the passenger’s seat. Lela was 20 feet from the car, purse and car keys in hand.

Nobody is sure how they ended up in Arkansas. Police had stopped them at different times on June 29. The first officer pulled them over for not having their headlights on. An hour later, the second stopped them having their high beams on. Both times the couple was given a warning.

The missing couple became a Texas story. A headline from an Austin paper wrote “Elderly Salado couple missing on a trip to nowhere.”

Watch story from WUSA9

That caught the attention of Tony Scalzo, a member of the band Fastball. He followed the story daily, but instead of thinking the worst, he had a romantic twist. The couple just wanted to get away from their responsibilities and be like when they were young lovers.

The result was our Song of the Day, “The Way.” Scalzo wrote and finished it before the Howards were found.

The song finished number one on Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart. The album with the song sold more than one million copies. Fastball never had a bigger hit.

Song of the Day is created by Sheldon Zoldan, and produced by Pam James for WGCU. To receive the Song of the Day in your inbox every day, email shzoldan@comcast.net with the subject line ADD ME TO SOTD.