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After decades, high school sweethearts finally get married


It's Friday, the day we hear from StoryCorps - also, coincidentally, the day that stocks in facial tissues normally rise. When Jimmy Neeley was a senior at Longview High School in Texas, he met a sophomore named Becky. It was 1969. And soon after they met, he joined the Navy. That is where their love story begins.

JIMMY NEELEY: I thought about you all the time. I was just, you know, pins and needles waiting to get my letters from you. I had already bought an engagement ring, and I was pretty sure you were going to say yes.

BECKY NEELEY: I didn't even look at the ring. I didn't even have you open the box. And I just said, no, I can't marry you. My mom did not want me to be involved with anyone in the military during the time of Vietnam because you don't know what's going to happen. In the years afterwards, I would run into your sister. I would ask about you, and she let me know that you had married.

J NEELEY: Kay and I had been together for 34 years as a married couple. And she had been really ill the last eight years of her life. It's like I was widowed for so long before. It was just really, you know, lonely. I wasn't even thinking really about dating or nothing. It never surely crossed my mind.

B NEELEY: After my husband Steve passed, I saw your picture. You were wearing your police uniform. And I thought, is that my Jimmy Neeley? I think it is. And I saw then that you had become a widower.

J NEELEY: When I first seen your message, I'm thinking, well, it'd be great just to see her. And yeah, let's get together and have coffee and catch up on old times.

B NEELEY: We drove up. Our cars pulled up at the very same time.

J NEELEY: I seen the blonde hair. And I said, that's Becky.

B NEELEY: I felt like I was a teenager again, going on my first date when I was 15.

J NEELEY: And it didn't take long for me to realize how I was falling in love with you.

B NEELEY: It seems you've always moved faster than I have. I didn't know if I was ready. And then my son - he pulled me aside one day, and he said, Mom, why would you avoid happiness just because you're scared?

J NEELEY: So I decided, well, I'm going to ask you again.

B NEELEY: He took me back to that same spot. Well, I told you yes this time when you proposed.

J NEELEY: I was happier than I've been in forever, It seemed like. I was so excited. It's fun being married to you. Sometimes, I wake up, and every day, I thank God that he brought you back into my life.


INSKEEP: Jimmy and Becky Neeley for StoryCorps. They married on Valentine's Day in 2020 and live in Rockwall, Texas. Their conversation is archived at the Library of Congress.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Esther Honig