When couples first meet, it’s good to have some quiet time to talk and get to know each other.
Kathy and Gary McConnell had no shortage of that when they met in winter 1959.
After graduating from high school in January, Kathy began working as an aide in the psychiatric unit of a Sioux City, Iowa, hospital to earn money before starting college in the fall.
Gary, 18 at the time, worked nights as an orderly in the unit while attending business school.
Kathy, also 18, worked days but was asked to work nights for a couple of weeks while another staff member was on vacation.
So there they were. Kathy and Gary holding down a locked psychiatric ward overnight. Usually all the patients were asleep so there wasn’t much to do except sit at the nurses’ station and share their lives.
She grew up in Sioux City and attended a big high school. Gary grew up on a farm near Sac City, Iowa, and had 13 students in his graduating class. They enjoyed hearing about the differences in their backgrounds.
Both loved music, though. Kathy used her first paycheck to buy a record player and Gary helped her enroll in a record club. After about a month Gary asked her out and they attended a concert by Bill Haley and the Comets.
Kathy and Gary started dating regularly. In the fall, Kathy started classes at Morningside College in Sioux City and Gary transferred there.
Gary proposed in fall 1959 and they married July 29, 1960, at the Congregational Church in western Iowa.
After college in 1962, they moved to Omaha and Gary became an accountant while Kathy stayed home to raise their kids. They have two children, one grandchild and will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary this summer.
Both say those long conversations during the long nights at the hospital helped them form the bond they still feel today.
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