"The gods said, 'What woman wants, God wants,'" Gisele Seymour said.
When you hear Gisele, you realize two things: she speaks her mind and she is not a native of the Northeast Kingdom. She speaks with a French accent.
Gisele Seymour: I came here looking for a husband.
Reporter Joe Carroll: Why did you come here looking for a husband?
Gisele Seymour: Because I just wanted one and I got a good one!
Gisele and her friends were visiting Newport from Quebec when she noticed Bill. She said in French, "Hi, you're not bad looking." He didn't understand a word she was saying.
"But I was having a good time watching him wonder what the heck I was talking about," she said.
She was 34 and he was 28. They were married six months later.
"That was a good day!" she said, looking at their wedding picture. "But I been waiting a long time for him."
The couple raised three children and became a team.
"When I make up my mind I doing something, I go after it," Gisele said.
Later in their marriage, Bill and Gisele had a mission. When Ames closed over a decade ago, the couple got a petition together to try to bring another large retailer to Orleans County.
"The only driving I've ever done is to drive my husband nuts," Gisele remarked.
Bill was the wheelman and Gisele was the enforcer.
"And I said, I'm all for that Gisele,'" friend Brian Smith recalled. "And she said, 'Sign the petition or I'll break your arm.' So I said, 'I better sign it.'"
Brian was working at a nearby business when Gisele came visiting.
Joe Carroll: She really pushed this along.
Brian Smith: Yeah, she did, nonstop.
Twelve years and 1,200 signatures later, a Super Wal-Mart is being built in Derby.
"Everybody did one shovel, I did three!" Gisele said of the groundbreaking. "The first one I had trouble doing it, but then when I started going, I got encouraged and I wanted to build a whole store!"
"Now we can buy underwear, it's kind of funny but there are other things we can get at the new store," Brian said.
Joe Carroll: How proud were you that day?
Gisele Seymour: Very proud, I'm proud of what I did.
But she was there without her partner, Bill. He died of cancer six years ago. She said he would also be proud of the new store. Gisele was 85 when she started a petition to get a department store in the Newport area. Now she's 97 and it's finally happening. And the road going into this Wal-Mart will be called Seymour Drive.
Joe Carroll: When are they going to open?
Gisele Seymour: In about a year from now. Next year. But I might croak before then! (Laughs)
"I'm planning on her being here," Brian said. "Gisele, you better... you better keep it mind that you better be here so."
A woman who's determination makes her an inspiration to all of us.
"I enjoyed every minute of it," Gisele said.
PO Box 4508