Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman, has opened up about her parents’ divorce before, but In Touch magazine has exclusively learned the shocking full story of the split that sent shock waves through their small Oklahoma city.
Shortly before Ree’s own 1996 wedding, her mother, Gerre, left her husband of 33 years and later married the family’s pastor, Doug Schwert, who served as the rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in their hometown of Bartlesville, OK, until 1995.
Gerre and Doug started off as friends. An active member of the church, Gerre would often see her future husband — who was then married to his wife of about 20 years, Janet — when she did volunteer work, several sources tell In Touch exclusively. “Gerre and Doug would go to different committees and meetings together,” recalls a churchgoer. “They would end up at the same place. They were thrown together on different occasions.”
“It wasn’t right,” a former parishioner at the church tells In Touch. “People were talking.” And while two decades have passed, residents still speak of the incident in hushed tones. “It was a scandal,” the churchgoer says.
“Ree was crushed,” a local resident tells In Touch. “She kept begging [her mother and father] to stay together.” They didn’t: Court documents obtained by In Touch show that Gerre filed for divorce in October 1996 — a month after Ree tied the knot with husband Ladd — claiming that “irreconcilable incompatibility has arisen between the parties.”
In his response, William, a prominent local doctor beloved in the community, disagreed with Gerre’s assessment: “The defendant desires to continue to live in a loving and supportive marriage with the plaintiff.” But William eventually dropped his opposition and the couple divorced in 1997.
Doug also got divorced. “His wife was so hurt by it,” claims the local resident. “Everyone felt terrible for her.” Doug and Gerre wed in 1999, and left Oklahoma soon after. They now reside in Signal Mountain, Tenn., 12 hours away from Ree, Ladd and their four children Alex, 20, Paige, 18, Bryce, 15, and Todd, 13.
Now the families get together “several times a year,” Doug recently told In Touch. William also remarried and still lives in the same area.
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