Bonnie Ammon's sister was looking for company while she watched her husband bowl -- or so she said.
"I think they kind of set that up," says Bonnie, who suspects she might have been aiming for more of a more long-term arrangement.
The first time I saw my future spouse:
She says: “I thought he was handsome, but his pants were too short and he was really skinny.”
He says: “I wondered where my friend had been keeping her.”
On our wedding day:
He says: “I just thought I was a lucky guy to find a good Southern girl from the farm who liked to do what I liked to do. I was a lucky guy.”
She says: “That’s the way I felt, too. I thought I had found the one forever.”
My advice for a long happy marriage is:
He says: “You just have to make up your mind that you’re going to love somebody and you can’t do that until you decide that’s going to be the No. 1 person in your life.”
She says: “We take care of each other. We’ve slept in the same bed for 50 years. Be honest with each other and take care of each other, that’s what we’ve always done.”
She joined her sister, going down the tunnel at the original Park Plaza, past the terrarium and into the old downstairs bowling alley, and that's where she was introduced to Jerry Noggle, who worked with Bonnie's brother-in-law at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in late 1964.
"They bowled on the same team for several years for the Corps of Engineers bowling league, which is now 70 years old -- it's the oldest bowling league in the city," she says.
Jerry was nice-looking, she thought.
"But I did notice he was really skinny and his pants were about 2 inches too short," she says. "I think I weighed more than he did."
Bonnie sat with her sister and watched the men bowl. Between turns, Jerry came over to talk.
"I was wondering where my good buddy had been keeping his sister-in-law," Jerry quips.
Bonnie and Jerry learned through their intermittent conversation that they had things in common.
"I found out she liked to do the same things I liked to do," Jerry says. "I realized after awhile that she was a good tomboy."
"I was," Bonnie concedes. "I grew up on a farm and picked cotton until I was 12 years old."
Bonnie grew up in Mountain Pine, outside Hot Springs, and moved to Little Rock after graduating from high school in 1961 to live with her sisters and work as a bank teller.
Jerry grew up on a farm in the boot heel of Missouri. He had worked during summers for the Corps of Engineers and then for about six months after graduation before entering the military for a year and a half before returning to start his career there.
It took Jerry awhile to call Bonnie to ask for date.
"He was shy and I was shy," Bonnie says. "I remember him calling and saying, 'This is Jerry,' and I said, 'Jerry who?'"
They had a few dates that involved doubling with Bonnie's sister and brother-in-law and then Jerry invited her to the Corps of Engineers Christmas party.
At the time, the league was for men only.
Even though the girls couldn't bowl with the guys in the league back then, Bonnie and Jerry did bowl together on their own.
Their other favorite pastime was fishing.
"When we were still dating we would go with his older sister and brother-in-law and camp out in tents at Lake Ouachita and fish," she says.
Bonnie enrolled in night school to become a legal secretary not long after they started dating, so they didn't get to go out as much as they might have otherwise.
"I remember taking her to class and picking her up," Jerry says.
When Bonnie finished school, she got a job in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court building, which was next-door to the building where Jerry worked.
"Then we saw each other all the time," she says.
They dated for almost five years before they talked about getting married.
"I think it was a kind of a mutual thing," Bonnie says. "That was about the size of it. He was 30 at the time, and I was 25."
"It was time," Jerry says.
They were married on Feb. 22, 1969, at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church by the Rev. James Argue Sr.
When the Corps of Engineers league became coed in 1971, Bonnie joined and they bowled together until 2000, when Jerry needed back surgery and could no longer play.
"Since they closed Park Plaza, our league has bowled in every bowling alley in Little Rock and North Little Rock," Bonnie says. "Then we fished, the four of us -- my sister and my brother-in-law, the four of us -- on Lake Ouachita, and camped out together," she says. "And then after we got older, after our two sons were gone we bought a bass boat and we fished for the longest time by ourselves."
Jerry and Bonnie have two sons -- Scott Noggle of New York and Mark Noggle of McRae. They also have two granddaughters.
Bonnie took up golf when their boys were young.
"There was this group of old guys at Rebsamen golf who taught kids in summer for $10 for a one-week course -- they were about 5 and 8," she says. "So I took the boys over to Rebsamen Golf Course every day for about one week and they learned and they were pretty good, both of them, and they played and I thought, 'Well, golly, I'm coming out here every day, I might as well figure out how, too.'"
She played with a group of women from her church, and Jerry joined her on the course after he retired in 2003, although he says he started too late to catch up.
"We haven't had very many ups and downs," she says. "We pretty much get along together -- we always have, because we like to do things together."
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Jerry Noggle and Bonnie Ammon were married on Feb. 22, 1969. Her sister introduced them so she would have someone to keep her company while she watched her husband bowl. “His cardiologist says he has a beautiful heart — I’ll agree with that,” she says.
Jerry and Bonnie Noggle of Bryant are pictured here on their farm in McRae. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary this month with a dinner for family and friends. “He’s really, really good — I could not be more blessed than I am. I’m really blessed,” she says.
High Profile on 02/10/2019
Print Headline: It took a few years, but he finally bowled her over