By Chanda Temple
Hurricane Katrina may have destroyed life as Dwayne Thompson knew it in New Orleans in 2005, but a move to Birmingham gave him a new start he never saw coming.
He found a job with the City of Birmingham. Today, he’s a crime prevention officer at the North Precinct.
He stepped out on faith to bottle his New Orleans-influenced barbecue sauce after Birmingham residents told him it was good enough for retail. Today, it’s sold across the Southeast.
And on Valentine’s Day at 9 a.m., he will get married live on ABC 33/40’s “Talk of Alabama’’ after winning an online wedding contest.
“I sum it up like this: Be attentive to the spirit of God because it will not always take you where you want to go, but it will lead you where you are supposed to be,’’ said Thompson, 50. “Devastation brought forth destiny. I feel like I would not be the man that I am if I had chosen any other city.’’
Thompson and his family rode out Hurricane Katrina, which destroyed his home in August 2005. They stayed in New Orleans three days before moving to Birmingham. Now, as 2020 marks the 15th anniversary of the storm that changed lives for thousands of people, Thompson looks back at what was and what will be for him. On Friday, he will marry Vickie Ashford, a woman he met while competing in a cooking contest in March 2018 at AllSouth Appliance in the metro-Birmingham area.
Thompson noticed Ashford first. However, Ashford had no idea of his interest. It wasn’t until she stepped away from his cooking station that one of her sisters asked Thompson if he was flirting. He told her he certainly was because he knows “a piece of gold when I see it.’’
A few days later, he popped up at Ashford’s place of employment just to say, “Hi.’’ She wasn’t there. But that didn’t deter him. He returned on a day when she was finally at work. His conversation pulled in Ashford.
Phone conversations led to dating and dating led to a deep connection between the two. They discovered they had a lot in common. They both loved sports, family and God.
“When we first started talking on the phone, before we’d depart, he’d say a prayer. And in the morning, he’d say a prayer when we talked on the phone before going to work,’’ said Ashford, 55, and director of travel media for the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “If it seems that I have a headache, he stops in his tracks and prays for me.’’
“Everything I’m involved with, he wants to be there, too. He’d say I’m not trying to smother you. I just want you to know I’m here.’’
Thompson, an associate minister at a church in Helena, took his love for Ashford to the next level when he proposed on Nov. 26, 2019 while he and Ashford were on Comedienne Joy’s Eat, Drink, Ride food bus tour.
So, how did he know he was ready to propose? “I’ll use cooking terms. Once you gather all the right ingredients and it comes time to prepare the meal and present it, you just know. Vickie was everything I had been looking for,’’ he said.
Ashford says the same about Thompson.
“I don’t believe in chances,’’ she said. “I believe that people are placed in certain times for a certain reason. I think that’s why Dwayne landed in my life the way he did.”