The other Jim was not the one she wanted to marry

Posted: June 10, 2018 at 2:28 a.m.

Jim and Ann Massey will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this week. “Jim and I have grown together. We’re friends,” she says. “Golf has been the thing that’s kept us together for 30 or 40 years.”

Jim and Ann Massey will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary this week. “Jim and I have grown together. We’re friends,” she says. “Golf has been the thing that’s kept us together for 30 or 40 years.”

Ann Reynolds fought with one Jim, but she quickly became smitten with the other.

In 1956, Ann was a freshman at Ouachita Baptist College in Arkadelphia and she was dating a young man named Jim, although they weren't getting along well.

The first time I saw my future spouse:

She says: “I knew he fit the description of what I wanted. He was tall, dark and handsome and he was an athlete. He was good looking too.”

He says: “She just wasn’t like the other girls. She was better-looking than the other girls and she, I guess, fit my description of what I wanted too. She was about 5-foot-6 and she was blond-headed and good looking and when we started dating, that was just it.”

On our wedding day:

She says: “I think I was late.”

He says: “I remember everything vividly. The preacher that did the wedding was a ministerial student at Ouachita that lived right across the hall from me. The man who was head of the music department and also lived across the hall from me, sang at the wedding.”

My advice for a long happy marriage:

She says: “Do things together that help you grow together. You have to grow together. I think we’ve done that in our church and in our family and in our activity.”

He says: “Do what she wants. I didn’t always do that and it got me in a lot of trouble. But I wasn’t as bad as that other guy was.”

That Jim's roommate, Jim Massey, heard the complaints.

"Every night he would come in and say they had been arguing about this or that," he says.

In her defense, Ann says, the other Jim was an instigator.

"He was just always picking on me," she says.

Their relationship wasn't a serious one, regardless, so when it ended there was no drama as Jim Massey stepped in.

"After a while my roommate said, 'Well, I'm not going out with her anymore. All we do is fuss and fight,'" he says. "I said, 'Well, I think I'll date her. I want to see what the problem is and see if I fuss and fight with her.' But we got along good.'"

He had dated one of Ann's friends before that -- more than one, in fact, though never more than a few times each.

He had transferred to what is now Ouachita Baptist University from what was then Arkansas State College in Jonesboro to play basketball. He had been an athlete since he was in high school in Batesville, where he played basketball, football and baseball and ran track.

"That's all I did and I didn't have time for girls except an occasional date here and there," he says. "When I went to [what is now Arkansas State University] I said, 'OK, that's it. I'm going to have some fun.' And my grades showed it. So my mother convinced me to go to Ouachita. In fact, she said, 'We'll buy you a car if you go to Ouachita.'"

Ann and the right Jim don't even remember where their first date was, but they say it's unlikely they went in his car. They walked most places, with him coming to her dorm to meet her first.

Ann was happy to be going out with him, regardless of their mode of transportation. She remembers a teacher in a family living course in high school asking her class what qualities they might look for in a potential spouse.

"My response was I wanted someone who was tall and dark and handsome and was an athlete," she says. "Jim was all of those. He was about 6-foot-3 and he had dark hair and he was cute -- and he was an athlete."

They spent most of their time going out with friends, with an occasional trip to Hot Springs to see a movie.

"He was just a good guy. He was attentive and he treated me well. He was sweet and he was a good Christian. I think we just became good friends first," says Ann, who worked at the college switchboard. Jim worked in the campus bookstore. "Sometimes we would meet and have a conversation."

But when summer rolled around and Jim headed for Batesville and Ann to her hometown, Fort Smith, she realized that what initially registered as a close friendship was really much more.

"I guess when we separated for that summer, we kind of parted there and it was kind of sad," she says. "I could see by the look on his face how much he cared for me and I guess that's how I knew it was really real with him, because I could see the love in his face. I still remember that."

Jim gave Ann his fraternity pin, and they talked about marriage along the way, and by the fall of 1957 they had picked out rings in a Fort Smith jewelry store.

One day, however, she stopped by that store and was dismayed to find that those rings were gone.

"I thought they had just disappeared," she says. "Someone else got my rings."

Jim was in the National Guard and during the desegregation crisis in the fall of 1957, he was sent to Little Rock's Central High School. He had used the money he made from serving on active duty to buy those rings as a surprise for her.

Ann set up her sewing machine in her dorm's prayer room.

"That's where I made my dress," she says.

Ann and Jim exchanged their wedding vows in Spradling Baptist Church in Fort Smith at 4 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 1958.

The other Jim was an attendant in the ceremony.

The newlyweds stopped for the night in Little Rock before making their way to New Orleans for a honeymoon.

They have three children -- Cindy White of Searcy, Andy Massey of Dallas and Katherine Oliver of Cabot. They also have three grandchildren.

Both are retired now and live in Searcy. Ann taught for 33 years and Jim taught and coached and then worked in school administration until 2000.

Jim took up golf several years ago, and after a while he convinced Ann to join him on the course. They have played in couples' tournaments around the state.

"That's been one thing that's drawn us together and kept us together," Jim says. "We've always had good times as a couple but this is something we do together."

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Jim Massey and Ann Reynolds were married on June 13, 1958. They started dating after Ann stopped going out with Jim’s roommate, who complained that th...

High Profile on 06/10/2018