44 years ago on Friday night, September 8, 1978 I went par-3 golfing with a friend Jeff Tokar. After our round of golf we were hungry so we stopped at a little pizza place across the street from the college we attended. They sold cheap and tasty pizza by the slice. While we were waiting for our pizza a girl walked over from the college. She was pretty with long brown hair and her eyes were brown. She wore a light blue top and a jean skirt with tennis socks that had a blue and pink stripe around the ankle. She wore white tennis shoes. She had her hair pulled back from her face with a headband. She wore no makeup. She didn’t need any. I said ‘Hi” and she returned the greeting but looked quickly away. She was either quiet or she didn’t like me or maybe both. I wished there was a way I could have gotten her name but I was just not that bold.
The next day in the college cafeteria, popularly called “The Cafe” pronounced like calf… I saw her again. It was Saturday September 9, 1978. She was sitting at a table with friends at lunch and she was wearing a brown dress with three-quarter length sleeves and a floral inset on the front. Friends were gathered around the table to sing happy birthday to her. In I gesture that looked like wiping away a tear, she brushed her finger across her face under her eye. She later denied that she was crying, said it was just a nervous mannerism, but it made my heart tender to her. I still didn’t know her name.
That night I attended a church picnic sponsored by United Baptist Church where my roommate attended. I drove, parked along the road and walked up the farmhouse with my friend. Standing there with a big young man with the young lady from the pizza place–the birthday girl. I said, “Where is the picnic?” They pointed toward the west and then they walked off to the east. I kept an eye on her that evening.
As evening fell the a number of the students were playing volleyball on one of the two courts. I could not get on the same court as the pretty young lady but I could not arrange it. As night feel and the games broke up they called us over to the fire for a devotional time. I noticed the pretty girl lost her headband and volunteered to help her. I said, “Wait here. I have a flashlight in my car.”
I hurried back with the flashlight and we found her headband. I walked her over to the circle of the fire and we sat and listened to a passionate young man preach. When he was done we all enjoyed watermelon. I got her a piece. I was sticking with her, she was not following me. I made conversation and I remember thinking that I needed to act quickly. A beautiful girl like this would get picked-off quickly. There would be some stiff competition and I could not imagine a man on in our large student body that would not be interested in this fetching young lady with the big, beautiful brown eyes and long brown hair.
I discovered her name was Lois Hatton and that she was from Ypsilanti, Michigan. I pronounced it Yip, like yippie and she quietly corrected me… “IP-silanti,” she said. I asked if she attended Calvary Baptist.
“No,” she said. “Southside Baptist.”
She had a beautiful mountain accent. She explained that she was born in Kentucky. I thought it was charming.
I got her a piece of watermelon and within a short time asked her, “Would you like to go out to eat with me?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, my mom would not want me to go out with someone I don’t know,” she said.
“She is wise,” I said, “But that is how you get to know somebody.”
“I better not.”
I said, “Well, what about this. Why don’t we eat together in the Cafe, that way you will feel safe and we can get to know each other, then when you are comfortable we can have a date off campus.”
“Listen, you don’t have to decide right now but you have to eat. Why don’t I wait for you at dinner Monday at 5:30 with the Cafe doors open?”
“You don’t have to decide. I will be there. If you show up we will eat together.”
On the way home my roommate says, “How did it go with the pretty girl?”
“We are going to eat together on Monday night,” I said, and then thought, “I’m pretty sure.”
Monday evening I was standing at the door at 5:30 as I promised. She was not there. I waited for what seemed like fa very long time and about 5:35 she came around the corner of the building with a cluster of girls. She didn’t look up. She kept her gaze on the ground ahead of her. She walked to the top of the steps.
“Hi,” she said and kept walking. I fell quickly in beside here there among her friends and began to monopolize her conversation which I have been doing pretty consistently now for over 42 years. By the end of the week I had talked her into a date to Wendy’s and Putt-Putt Golf. She wore a purple dress tied at the waist. I hope it is not inappropriate to record a vivid memory that she smelled beautiful, she looked beautiful and she had a very lovely form that was hard for me to get out of my mind. She had three holes-in-one that night and beat me at the game.
Just a few weeks later we were walking around the campus on a cool autumn night. Walking past the north end of the Field House (pictured here) I said to her, “Do you feel like you want to marry a pastor?”
She immediately she said, “O no.”
We walked on in silence. I was devastated. What was she doing at a Bible College if she didn’t want to marry a pastor, I naively thought. More silence. Finally she broke the silence.
At home I used to listen to Christian radio when I went to bed at night. I listened to a preacher named Lester Roloff. He had a home for troubled girls. I thought maybe I would help troubled girls.”
“Oh, that’s what pastor’s wives do.”
When I was in high school I listened to Christian radio at night and I have always loved the thought that while I was lying in my bed in Ohio listening to Christian radio, she was lying in her bed in Michigan doing the same and the Lord brought us together in Springfield, Missouri. Her church encouraged all the teens to spend at least a year at BBC. I attended there, even though it was not my usual brand of Baptist, because it was a place where you could work and earn your own way through college. My sister Melony and her husband Jim were married students there for a bit.
It was in September we met and started going out every weekend. It was early November when I first kissed her. She was pretty shy and passive about it, but she eventually warmed to it. At Christmas we travelled together home to Michigan (my parent moved to Michigan after I left for school. They now lived in Pontic). We had a chaperone both ways and the return trip was during a historic winter storm.
On weekends we usually went roller-skating with about 200 other college students from BBC and others from Evangel University and Calvary Bible College across town. Lois went to High Street Baptist Church with me.
One night in February we were out for diner and then went to a city park to walk in the snow. The snow was think in the park that night and lois was playful. She wore boots and a very pretty burgundy wool suit. She had curled her hair in big loops that night. We played in the snow and laughed and, standing on the bridge I kissed her and said, “Will you marry me?” She laughed. I had no ring. It seemed like a joke. I should not have said it, but I told her that night that I would ask her every month to marry me until she agreed. That was February 8th. I asked again on March 8, April 8, May 8th, June 8th and I think in July I brought a very modest ring to see her on my weekend visit to her home in Ypsilanti. I arrived, got out of the car and walked up to she and her mother and opened the ring box and asked again.
She said, “Is this real?”
Honestly it was a very poor way to handle something so important, but I was hurt that she asked if it was real. We worked out the kinks and made our way to the altar at her home church by September 8, 1979.
Every day Lois and I would walk to the campus post office. Back then the standard mail was must more important than it is in the day of e-mail, cell phones, and text-messaging.
Lois ran every night in the good weather making loops in the women’s parking lot.
The year I met Lois I was living in Harper Hall.
There is so much more to the story but this evening noodling about on Google and looked up some pictures of our old school and these memories came to me.
When I think back I’m so thankful to God that he so gently and faithfully protected us, provided for us and forgave us. He has poured out blessing upon us, eight children, and soon twenty grandchildren and hearts full of thanks for his kindness.
April 24, 2023