Mike Misch knew the answer to his high school chemistry teacher's question, but he didn't speak up.
"I was a typical high school teenager and I was thinking, 'Somebody else can answer that.' It was one of the luckiest things I ever did," he says.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “He was a foot taller than me and I was really pretty green about dating, so I had somebody I really looked up to.”
He says: “I knew she had backbone because she had no hesitation about saying, ‘Why didn’t you raise your fat hand?’ And as it turned out over the years we both have that but we have learned that it’s OK to make your point and then sit down and have your discussion.”
On our wedding day:
She says: “It was like 95 degrees. It rained. In Detroit, there was no air conditioning at that time, so we did sweat through the ceremony.”
He says: “I watched Ginny as she came down the aisle. Her dad was sweating. Ginny was not, but I was and I thought I was going to drown. It was just a wonderful wedding and a mercifully short service in a steam bath.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
She says: “Conversation. As we grew up together, we learned to talk to each other, we learned to explain ourselves and to get along that way and to make our issues known.”
He says: “You really have to recognize and appreciate your spouse and understand that there are things that they need or that they need to do that are a lot more important to them than they are to you and you’ve got to say fine and you’ve got to support them in those things.”
Mike was a junior at an inner-city Detroit high school in 1964. His chemistry teacher asked a question and since nobody seemed to know the answer she told them she would be assigning homework.
"I mumbled saying, 'Well, I knew the answer to that.' Suddenly from across the table came, 'Why didn't you raise your fat hand then?'" Mike says.
The comment came from Ginny Neffner.
"Those were the first words she spoke to me. As soon as she said that I thought, 'Well, I think she really likes me,'" he quips. "I was encouraged, having her speak to me."
A few days later, Mike asked Ginny to go to a hayride with him. She said no.
"Those had a bad reputation at that time," she explains.
Months later, Ginny was in charge of the sororities group and Mike was in charge of the fraternities group from the high school that gathered to plan a dance.
"As I was sitting there talking, this very determined little woman came over and put her finger right in my chest, and looked me right in the eye and made her point," he says. "I looked her back in the eye and I was lost after that."
Neither remembers what point Ginny was trying to make, but it was something meaningful to both of them at the time. Mike smoothed over their disagreement and asked her out again. This time she agreed.
Mike picked Ginny up for their first date and drove them toward downtown Detroit where they were going to see a movie.
"I blew a red light and we had a minor car accident," he says. "The result of that was that my parents grounded me for a month. I wanted to keep dating Ginny, so I had to go to all of my friends and say, 'How would you like to go somewhere on a double date?' This kept up until it until I got my wheels back. But really, after we started dating, neither one of us ever dated anybody else."
They dated throughout their junior and senior years of high school, finding plenty of entertainment in their hometown.
"Detroit was a boomtown at that time with the auto industry. There was just something to do anytime you wanted to look around and find it," Mike says. "There were parties, there were new shows opening, there were movies. And every now and then we just get together and go out for a pizza."
Back then, the school year in their overcrowded school started for some in September and for some in January; both Mike and Ginny started their year in January. They graduated in January 1966, and both started at the University of Michigan.
Ginny knew what she wanted to do -- become a medical technician -- and she finished in less than four years. Mike's path wasn't quite as clear from the start. He transferred to Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., and took a bit longer to finish.
Ginny took college courses during summer breaks; Mike worked in construction -- largely to save money for an engagement ring.
Ginny wanted to go swimming on the summer day when he was to go to the jeweler's in downtown Detroit to pick it up, and she was upset when he told her he had other plans.
He offered to drive her to a meeting she was to attend that night, and though she declined, he insisted. When he picked her up he asked if she was still angry that he hadn't gone swimming with her that day.
"She said yes. And I said, 'Then I guess you won't want what is in the glove box.' It was her diamond. It was at that point she decided she wasn't mad," he says.
They exchanged their vows on Aug. 15, 1969, in a Detroit congregational church where neither of them were members but where both had gone for youth activities.
They honeymooned at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va. They plan to return there this year to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Ginny supported the family as Mike went through law school and later worked in hospital and drug research settings. Mike retired from State Farm Insurance as senior litigation counsel in the corporate law department.
They have two children, Liz Lowell of Berlin, N.J., and Bill Misch of Austin, though he is moving to Hot Springs Village soon. They also have two grandchildren.
Ginny and Mike settled in Hot Springs Village after living in Detroit, Houston, Bloomington, Ill., and Austin.
These days, Mike knows when to speak up.
"At least once a morning I say, 'Have I said I love you yet today?'" he says, "And at least once a week I say, I'm the luckiest guy in the world and I really believe that I am."
If you have an interesting how-we-met story or if you know someone who does, please call (501) 425-7228 or email:
Mike and Ginny Misch will celebrate their 50th anniversary on Aug. 15. They started dating soon after Ginny questioned why Mike had failed to raise his “fat hand” so their class could avoid an extra homework assignment. “It was one of the luckiest things I ever did,” Mike insists.
High Profile on 08/04/2019
Print Headline: She looked him in the eye and he was hooked