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How we met: Jim Brinkmeyer and Joyce Cunningham

A man and woman smiling for the picture

Jim Brinkmeyer and Joyce Cunningham

Joyce Cunningham recalls one very cold night on campus in 1969. A storm had dumped nearly eight inches of snow. She left Milner Library and headed for coffee at The Cage before trudging a mile home.

Seated there was a friend, Mary, and a guy Joyce had met weeks before when tracking down the only copy of a book she needed for a paper. The young man, Jim Brinkmeyer, had checked it out.

Jim agreed to drive Mary home, but only if Joyce came along. When he reached her place, Jim asked her out. Joyce agreed to a date the following weekend. Her roommates were excited to hear about him, especially when they learned his name was Jim. They reminded Joyce that a Ouija board predicted she would marry a man named Jim from Rock Island. During the date, Joyce confirmed that was his home town.

The two were a couple throughout the spring semester in 1970, which is when Jim received a draft notice. That summer he joined the Air Force and was stationed at Scott Air Force Base outside of O’Fallon. Joyce graduated in 1971 with an education degree in family and consumer sciences. She began working with the Cooperative Extension Service in Carthage, which was close enough to the base that the two could see each other on a regular basis.

The couple married in Normal in May of 1971. Jim completed his biological sciences degree at ISU in 1975, and later earned a master’s that prepared him for a career as an industrial hygienist. Joyce completed a graduate degree in educational administration and was a community college administrator.

The two lived in many states, and raised two children. Now retired, Jim and Joyce enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. They reside in Tennessee, where there are still plenty of cold and snowy winter nights that are a reminder of how their love story began.

“He has been taking me home during snowstorms for the last 48 years,” said Joyce, who chuckles with gratitude as she recalls their first car ride decades ago.

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