By Carolyn Marnon – February brings images of hearts, love and candy kisses. Every year, we bring you the love stories of community members willing to share what has made their relationship full of hearts. This year, we bring you the stories of Kurt and Angie Jarman, owners of Kurt’s Caps on Michigan Ave.; City Councilman Phil and Vicki Wagner; City Councilman Alfred and Bernadette Brock; and Paul and Ginger Cook.
Jarman love story
“Kurt became my brother’s friend when I was 15,” said Angie Jarman. They would hang out working on cars. Sometimes, Kurt would stay for dinner. “He became a friend to the whole family.”
“When I turned 16,” Angie continues, “I had a feeling he was going to ask me out. I asked my mom if he did, could I say yes?” Her mom said she could, so in September of 1981, Angie and Kurt went to the Willow Drive-in for their first date. Though she has forgotten what movie they saw, the important thing is that they’ve been together ever since.
Angie recalls that some of their subsequent dates were simply at the kitchen table while she was doing her homework. They both graduated from Wayne Memorial High School: Kurt in 1979 followed by Angie in 1983.
The young couple worked together for several years at a sub-sandwich shop in Wayne before they married. Kurt also worked for the City of Wayne at the community center.
The couple didn’t want a big wedding. They had planned to get married at the 29th District Courthouse in Wayne on February 24, 1986. When they showed up for their marriage appointment that Monday, they were told the judge was not there due to a family emergency. Fortunately, Judge Carolyn Archbold had already made arrangements for Kurt and Angie to get married over at the First Congregational Church of Wayne.
With a small group of family looking on, the couple married that morning at the church and then headed back home for a home-cooked breakfast.
Later that weekend, the Wayne community center was filled with about 300 people celebrating Kurt and Angie’s nuptials. “It was a great, crazy party. Some people still talk about it today.” With an unlimited bar, Angie says people were letting loose and dancing at the tables. Some were having so much fun, they had to be rolled out of the community center on kitchen carts and loaded into cars waiting at the curb to take them home.
Angie knew she was going to marry Kurt after they started dating. “We spent all our free time together, having fun. We would hang out at each other’s house with family.”
The couple have a son, Greg, who still lives at home. “He’s a good kid. Never gave us any trouble,” said Angie. They also have a business in Wayne, Kurt’s Caps on W. Michigan Ave.
The success for their 40+ year marriage lies in simple tenants. “Never keep secrets or tell lies,” said Angie. “Always think ours, not mine and yours. It’s not his yard work; it’s ours. It’s not my housework; it’s ours. Work together to get things done so you can go have fun.”
It’s not all been fun and games for the Jarmans. “I’ve had cancer a few times over the years,” said Angie. “As many know, it affects the whole family. Kurt has been my biggest supporter, always positive. We have fought this together and still will for years to come.”
Angie and Kurt have both worked full-time jobs. When the weekend appeared, they liked to head to their up-north getaway for some fun where they made many great memories with family and friends. “Life has to have a balance of hard work and fun,” said Angie. “Sitting around the bonfire after a day of riding 4-wheelers on the trails was so relaxing.” To them, their hard work was paying off.
You might see Kurt and Angie out driving in their 1956 Chevy truck in the evenings or on weekends. Their favorite place to visit is the Wayne Dairy Queen. They also like being involved in the Wayne community. They volunteer with Wayne Main Street. They are instrumental in bringing the fire pits that are used during the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting at the Wayne Historical Museum. Angie’s favorite activity is giving away popcorn at the summer concerts in Goudy Park. “We really missed them in 2020,” she said sadly.
Angie’s sage advice to any young couple just starting their lives together is “Always work together. Remember, it’s not mine and his; it’s ours. And no lies or secrets. Finally, don’t forget to say ‘Goodnight. I love you!’”
Brock Love Story
21 years ago, Alfred Brock hit “Reply All” to a chain letter he had received. The chain letter garnered a flood of negative responses. One response did stand out, however. A young woman named Bernadette wrote back to him, asking “Who are you?” and wished him a nice day. She was the only one who had responded kindly, so he wrote back to her. They continued to write back and forth until they eventually met.
“I was so happy to meet her at first,” said Alfred. “Then, we were walking along the riverbank towards a riverboat casino, and Bernadette made some gesture to the riverboat and an offhand remark that sparked love in my heart.”
Alfred and Bernadette have been together for 21 years, of which 19 of those have been spent married. “I wouldn’t say it was a lightbulb moment,” said Bernadette when asked if there was a moment when either knew ‘this is the person I am going to marry.’ “We had been together for two years and we just fit. We liked a lot of the same things.”
The couple has three children: Justin (who recently moved back home to Wayne), Grayson and Ella. You might have seen the well-behaved young Grayson or Ella minding their own business at past city council meetings when it was still possible to attend in person, pre-COVID.
When asked what has been the secret to the success of their relationship, Bernadette replied “I wish I could say there was a secret. I think the success is because we take the time to listen to the other person.” Alfred replied, “Listening and working together towards a common goal, whether it is getting a loaf of bread at the supermarket or building a family.”
The biggest challenge for the couple has been how far away they live from their extended family.
Alfred shared, “Family events are always challenging. They are best met with love and
compassion. We have been fortunate that our industry and togetherness have helped us weather the storms. God has been good to us, and I am thankful for that. We’ve had to overcome the distances as our families are living across the United States. We’ve done that by using the technology we have at our disposal like the telephone and email and writing lots of letters!”
The greatest highlight of their relationship has been “the birth of our wonderful children. They are the light of our lives.”
Before COVID, the couple crafted a lot and loved to garden. They loved taking the kids to new places. Since COVID, they have spent considerable time doing crafts, puzzles and just spending time together with the kids now that they are all home all the time.
“We like to visit natural and historical places,” Alfred said. “Right now we take time to visit local greenhouses to see what they are growing and what we can grow in our home. Visiting places like the Wayne Historical Museum, the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and parks – whether they are local, county, state or federal, are always enjoyed by our family. Before COVID we made regular trips by car to visit family and friends.”
In the future, Alfred and Bernadette would like to go on an Alaskan Cruise. “It is something we have talked about since day one we met,” said Bernadette.
Young couples just starting their lives together should “Talk to each other. Listen to each other. Encourage each other. Believe in yourselves.”
Bernadette shares, “Be giving. It takes two. Make sure you are listening to the other person. Never be afraid to love too much.” Alfred follows up, “You are building your own world. If it gets knocked down, just start over.”
Wagner Love Story
EHarmony. Match. Bumble. Plenty of Fish. These are just a few of the dating websites currently available for people looking for a love connection. For Wayne City Councilman Phil Wagner and his wife, Vicki, it was ChristianSingles.com that brought the pair together.
Being quite introverted and not into the traditional dating scene, each looked into online dating. Their first date in late summer 2011 was dinner at Leonardo’s Italian Grille in Romulus. “I knew there was something there when Phil asked if I wanted to go see a movie after dinner,” said Vicki. “My older sister, Cindy, claims she knew Phil was ‘The One’ because I agreed to see Planet of the Apes. I’m not a big fan of apes and monkeys.”
“After our relationship progressed, we had a ‘financial talk’ and revealed to each other that neither of us had any debt, and we both had similar financial goals,” said Phil when asked about a lightbulb moment when either one knew they had found the person they were going to marry.
“Romantic, huh?” added Vicki. She laughingly continued, “We had both dated financial nightmares before meeting each other, so this was an important ‘ah-ha’ moment.”
“My mom was diagnosed with cancer while we were planning our wedding,” said Vicki about the challenges that the couple have faced in their time together. “She lost her battle 3 years ago. I don’t know what I would have done without Phil’s love and support during that difficult time.”
The couple married on June 29, 2013. With almost 8 years of marriage under their belt, Phil and Vicki also share their home with their two young children. Nathaniel is 6 and Vivian is 4.
“We both believe marriage is for life, so we work hard to resolve our disagreements. We also maintain respect for each other while disagreeing. It took us way too long to find each other to ruin a great marriage over disagreements and foolish pride.”
2020 has brought additional challenges to the Wagners. “2020 had its many challenges, especially entertaining/schooling our children during the lock-down,” admitted Phil.
The couple count the births of their children and buying their first house in Wayne in 2014 as highlights of their relationship.
“We both love history and architecture, so on our occasional date-nights, we enjoy dinner and then driving through historic neighborhoods. Pre-COVID, we would often tour some Detroit landmarks. We also love spending a week each summer somewhere ‘up north’ for family vacation. We’ve rented cottages in East Jordan, Cadillac, and Gaylord over the last few years,” said Phil. “Post-COVID, sadly, we’ve just been watching Perry Mason re-runs.”
With several small home renovation projects on the horizon, the couple plans to stay busy until the world opens up again. At that time, they’d like to do some international travel.
“Make sure you are on the same page on religion, having and rearing children, money, and long-term goals” the Wagners advise couples preparing to spend a lifetime together. “Not talking about these subjects is not the same as agreeing on them.”
Cook Love Story
December 27,1960. The day Ginger and Paul Cook married at First United Methodist Church in Wayne.
December 27, 2020. The day of the last worship service before First United Methodist Church closed its doors.
Paul and Ginger Cook visited the church before its closing to reminisce on their 60 years together. Because the new owner of the church is doing renovations, the old altar was being removed when Paul was able to salvage a piece of it. The altar was the one that the couple had been married at 60 years ago to the day. A token of their special day.
In the intervening years, Paul and Ginger seem to have been constantly on the go, whether it was moving around the world, the country, raising children or just enjoying their many hobbies together.
Paul Cook III was making plans with his siblings to get everyone together for the momentous Diamond Anniversary. “It’s just another day,” said Ginger, as she played down all the fuss. They came from five different states. Paul III is the head of Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed in Washington DC. Michelle lives in Middletown, OH. Michael resides in Huntsville, Alabama. The oldest child, Cindy, lives in Savannah, GA. Kimberly, who is Ginger’s younger sister but whom Ginger has raised like a daughter, lives in North Carolina.
Ginger and her family moved from Massachusetts to Michigan years ago. Their house happened to be at the end of the street from where Paul and his family lived. Paul was a dashing senior in high school while Ginger was a sizzling sophomore who played football. It was while playing football in the field across the street from Paul’s home that Ginger injured her thumb. While she was recuperating, Paul rode by on his moped. She asked him if he’d take her to the store. He eventually asked her to the Fall Frolic and the Senior Prom “and that was it,” recalled Ginger.
After graduation, Paul went off to Central University. His 2nd year of college, he attended Eastern Michigan University. After Ginger’s high school graduation, they got married and joined the Army. “We traveled all over the world in 24 years (that he was in the Army) and ended up back in this house that he was raised in,” Ginger said.
“When we first got married, we didn’t have any place to live,” Ginger shared. “We lived with his parents and then we lived with my parents. Then he went in the military, and he went to Korea for a year.” After that, they lived at Fort Bragg, NC and in 1964 lived in Hawaii. He went to Vietnam and when he got home in October 1966, he left the military.
They were raising three kids in Georgia. Paul had his own business and was doing okay, but he was also thinking about the future. On May 1, 1975 Paul rejoined the Army. He said it was mostly because of the medical coverage the armed service provided to the family in addition to actually liking the Army.
From Fort Sill, OK, the family moved to Germany for three years. They came back to the US where they lived at Fort Knox, KY for six years. They crossed back across the ocean to Germany again for another three years. Paul retired while they were stationed at Fort Carson, CO. The retirement took them back to Kentucky where they lived another 14 years before coming back to Michigan. His dad died in 2002 and Paul took care of his mom until she died. The Cooks have been living in Paul’s childhood home ever since.
While the young couple was stationed at Fort Sill, OK, Ginger was able to attend nursing school and get her LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). She still keeps her license active. She said it’s because she worked so hard to earn it, she doesn’t want to let it lapse.
“Paul said he knew,” said Ginger about any kind of lightbulb moment when either knew ‘this is the person I am going to marry.’ “I didn’t know.” His mother didn’t want them to get married. “I’m gonna marry her one of these days,” he told his mother. Since that moment, Ginger claims his mother never liked her.
What is the secret to such a long-lasting marriage? “He is,” quips Ginger. “All my kids will agree to that. He’s so patient, and he’s so kind, and he’s so forgiving. He’s so understanding.” She boasts they were extremely lucky that none of their kids were ever in any trouble. “We’re lucky to have five good kids.”
“The biggest challenge is to live with a person for 60 years and learn to get over challenges with each of us being happy with what we did,” reflected Ginger. “Living with each other in harmony. You’re going to have differences when you live with somebody for a long time.” They also had to handle separations because Paul would be gone for long bits while serving his country.
Paul recalled that during his 2nd tour of Germany, they didn’t have any kids, “just a baby dog.” They would take off after work on Fridays and spend the weekend exploring Germany and Austria. Those were memorable moments.
He shared another memory. When they lived in Oklahoma, there would be tremendous storms in the state. “I remember it was raining and the rain turned into hail. It was hot-100 degrees. We walked in the rain. We sat in the ditch as the water flowed over us. It was like two or three feet deep, but we didn’t care.”
Not many people are in Tybee Island (Georgia) in the winter. Paul and Ginger would sit on a blanket on the beach for an hour or so and just be together. Spur of the moment crazy stuff is what they liked to do. “Still do,” Ginger affirmed.
What do Paul and Ginger do for fun, especially now during these COVID times? “Just hang out together,” replied Paul. “We’re so spontaneous,” added Ginger, “and Paul’s pretty game for anything. I say let’s do something, and we do it!”
She remembered how their son gave Paul moccasins for Christmas. She would ask Paul to do his Indian dance and he complied. “We just make each other laugh all the time.”
What are their plans for the future? “Every day I tell Paul something else I want to do. He looks at me and says ‘You dream big, don’t you?’”
The Cooks have owned two restaurants in the past, so Ginger said she would like to have a little restaurant in Wayne in the future.
They certainly stay busy. Every year they go to Eastern States Exposition in Massachusetts. They visit family while they are there. Paul volunteers at Willow Run Airport and the Yankee Air Museum where he paints and works on the planes.
Their most engaging activity might just be their Parking Lot Picnics. Ginger said they have these picnics 2-3 times a week. They’ll go to a drive-thru then pull into a parking spot to eat their food. Voila! A Parking Lot Picnic! She did say, however, that she is looking forward to when they can resume dining at the Rams Horn, their Monday night date spot.
Their advice to young couples? “Get into a good Bible-based church together and stay in church and bring your kids up together in church. Keep each other laughing all the time and entertain each other. Just be happy,” said Ginger. She said Paul was proud of her when she went to nursing school. “Just be proud of each other all the time.”
Before ending the interview, Ginger remembered a special moment from their 60th anniversary. “The kids wanted to take us out to dinner, but as you know places were closed except for carry out. They knew Olive Garden is one of my favorites, so all eight of us loaded into our van and headed to Olive Garden, called for a carry out and sure enough, we had another one of our ‘parking lot picnics.’ It was fun eight people eating salad and spaghetti in a van.”
The grandparents of 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren still have a lot of living to do after 60 years together. Who knows what will come next for Paul and Ginger. One thing’s for sure, they will be laughing their way along together.