The Dart: More than flowers bloom for couple

Published 12:44 am Monday, March 6, 2017


NATCHEZ — A year ago, Dr. Barbara Smith found a job in Natchez, but little did Smith know she soon would find a partner, too.

When The Dart landed on Linton Avenue, Smith was busy planting marigolds, azaleas and roses outside with Dalton McAfee  — a man she has been dating for the past eight months.

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When Smith moved to Natchez as a family physician for Merit Health, she moved to be closer to family.

Her father lives a couple hours away in Mount Olive.

“That is where I am from,” Smith said. “Other family members live between Mount Olive and the coast.”

Smith said she was not looking for a serious relationship.

Neither was McAfee who had moved to Natchez more than 10 years ago to work at Alcorn State University after retiring from North Carolina A&T State University. A Brandon native, McAfee bought Laurel Manor a bed and breakfast on Linton Avenue.

“The drive from Alcorn to Brandon was too hectic so I tried to find a place in Natchez which was close by,” McAfee said.

One of his long-term guests suggested McAfee might give Dr. Smith a call.

“I have a guest that lives in the suite downstairs, who went in for a medical appointment,” McAfee said. “He told me that ‘There is a lady I think you need to meet.’”

McAfee’s guest gave him Smith’s number and encouraged him to give the doctor a call.

“I called her up and we had dinner at Magnolia Grill and the rest is history,” McAfee said.

Eight months later, the couple was standing with a rake and shovel debating the location of one of the rose bushes for the five-story, six-bedroom house.

Currently the couple, who are now partners in the bed-and-breakfast, is working to decorate the inside of the house and improve the landscaping.

The couple said they don’t know what the future holds, but they are happy to be together.

Smith said she was happy to find a job in Natchez and is overjoyed to find much more in McAfee.

“I got an extra bonus that I didn’t plan on getting,” Smith said.