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Netflix Doc Captures St. Charles Women’s ‘Secret Love’

ST. CHARLES, IL — A new Netflix documentary tells the love story of two women who lived together in St. Charles for decades, using various cover stories to hide their relationship after falling in love in the 1940s. “A Secret Love” centers on Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel as they debate whether to get married after coming out to their families in their 80s.

The two women met in 1947 during the offseason for Donahue, who played for the Peoria Redwings in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the inspiration for the 1992 film “A League of Their Own.”

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Following Donahue’s career, they lived together on Third Avenue for decades, telling friends and family they were roommates trying to save a little money, uncertain if their relationship would be accepted. Director Chris Bolan, Donahue’s great-nephew, filmed the documentary between 2013 and 2018.

The film details Donahue’s journey to the big leagues, their careers together at a Chicago interior design firm, and their lives in the years since coming out, including footage of the women moving out of their St. Charles home and into Delnor Glen Assisted Living. Nearly 70 years after meeting, Donahue and Henschel married in 2015 at the assisted living facility.

The two women moved back to Canada in 2017 to be closer to family amid Donahue’s battle with Parkinson’s disease, according to a report by the Chicago Tribune. She died last year at 93. Henschel, 91, remains in Canada and likes to go to casinos and movie theaters and play bingo, the report states.

The 82-minute documentary was released April 29 on Netflix. It was due to make its world premiere at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, but the event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This article originally appeared on the St. Charles Patch

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