This past week was pretty exciting for us here at Griffin Jewelry! Not only did we send another happy customer on their way, we sent one of our very own local celebrities and his, oh so sweet wife, on to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Mr. & Mrs. Neil Sperry! When Neil and Lynn came to us, we were more than honored (and thrilled to say the least), to recreate such an important and meaningful piece of jewelry for Lynn.
Their story is such an inspiration and heartfelt love story, that we had to share! Thank you, Neil and Lynn Sperry, for sharing your story with us, and being proof that through hard work, determination and love, anything is possible.
“Dear Griffin Jewelry,
Thank you for your wonderful kindness in helping Lynn with a new ring design – actually for helping me as well. This will be my gift to Lynn next month on the occasion of our 50th wedding anniversary. I knew what I wanted to give her, but I wanted her to work with you to create it.
Lynn’s grandfather, who was born in 1885, gave the ring on the left to Lynn’s mom on her 21st birthday. Thelma would have turned 100 on July 1 of this year. She gave this ring to Lynn some years ago, but unfortunately, the small central diamond had been lost over time. The ring on the right was her engagement ring, and the diamond from it will be used in the center of the new ring. For sentimental reasons, Lynn chose not to have either ring melted, but to start with new gold and silver.
After we left your store, all I heard from Lynn for the next several hours was, “I am so excited.” That was followed each time by a moment or two of tears.
Thank you again. We are immensely grateful.
“August 6, 2017
I am the luckiest guy in the world!
Today Lynn and I celebrate 50 years of marriage!
It seems like just yesterday that I watched her come toward me down the aisle of St. Paul Lutheran Church set within the cornfields outside Ashville, Ohio.
As with most love stories, ours had an improbable start.
My first two years in college were in my hometown at Texas A&M. The school was still all male, and I was just thinking as I typed this…I’m not sure that I dated at all during those two years. I was socially, well, naive.
My grades, however, were very good (remember: no social life at all – I had plenty of time to study), and the grades qualified me for (listen to this one) a dry, scholastic, agricultural fraternity called Alpha Zeta at Ohio State. I had been tapped at A&M where it was completely honorary, and I was able to transfer right into the house chapter at OSU. Those young men were fabulous – future leaders of the agricultural community of America. Moving into that AZ house was the best thing that could have happened to me. I instantly had 50 like-minded friends in a faraway state.
So that takes us to Mother’s Day 1965. My mom didn’t make the trip to Columbus, so I went to that AZ Mother’s Day luncheon at the Ohio Union hungry and looking for an empty chair. One of the pledges invited me to join his mom and dad and his sister Lynn, a music major at OSU. So we sat and visited, me with my witty small talk and Lynn with that beautiful smile. We finished our lunch, said our “nice-ta-meetchas” and headed back to our respective places of residence.
Later that week, the pledge came up to me and asked if I’d like a date with his sister. Knowing finals were the following week and that I’d be heading home to College Station right afterwards – where I thought I had a girlfriend waiting, I said I had to decline. I guess the two dates I had had with that Texas girl weren’t enough to convince her, because when I got back to Texas she was already engaged – and it wasn’t to me.
So I thought about Lynn all of that summer. And when we all got back to the AZ house in September, I looked up her brother and got myself hooked up for a date. (Luckily she hadn’t found somebody better over the summer.)
That date went well, and so did the second. In fact, Lynn and I dated all fall. I graduated in December.
But in early January I moved on to Colorado State University to begin my Masters in carnation breeding.
It didn’t take long before I was lonely. I loved the school. I loved the surroundings. But I missed Lynn. I worked in a diner for meals (I still can’t cook) and 10-cent tips, and when I got enough dimes I’d go to the pay phone and call her. If she didn’t answer, I’d walk back through the snow a few hours later and try her again.
Lynn came to Fort Collins that summer of 1966 to spend a month. That was a really big venture for her – first time away from home. We’re still amazed that her folks allowed it. We found her a room, and she and I both worked at the same restaurant. We rode bikes through the sugar beet fields in the evenings and went exploring in the mountains when my schoolwork and research allowed.
A few days before she was to leave to return to Ohio I decided to go for broke – to ask for her hand in marriage. To my very great surprise, she accepted! The next day we headed to Denver to buy her a diamond. (I did it all backwards – remember, no social skills. Frankly, I’d expected to be turned down, and I didn’t want to be stuck with a diamond. They don’t flatter my looks.)
The next month was really tough. I was clear out there in Colorado. Lynn was back on the farm in Ohio, waiting for her senior year to begin. It was hard to concentrate on my work. So I called Ohio State and asked if there were any assistantships in floriculture or ornamental horticulture, and lucky for me, there was one.
I will never forget that drive back to Columbus in my ’63 Ford Fairlane 500 – the one needing the valve job. Bicycle, clothes drying rack and bag of Colorado rocks all strapped to the top. It sounded like a big bucket of bolts. I looked like the Beverly Hillbillies heading back to the hills. Lynn will give you her version of her reaction when she saw me pull into her drive. It wasn’t her proudest moment.
We both finished our degrees. We both taught in northern Ohio. I taught horticulture at Pioneer Vocational School in Shelby, Ohio, and she taught secondary music in Shiloh, Ohio. We both loved our jobs and we loved the kids. We lived in Plymouth, 40 miles south of Lake Erie. Those were great days that we remember extremely fondly.
Then came the big change. I got the call from Extension Horticulture project leader Bluefford Hancock in College Station. I grew up knowing Bluefford. In fact, I’m pretty sure he had shopped in my backyard nursery while I was in high school. He was calling to invite me to interview for the position of Dallas County Extension Horticulturist.
That was 1970. Lynn was expecting our first child, and we had just found out that my dad was ill. As we were preparing to move, the local gas station, while installing air shocks on our car, caught it on fire. So our move to Texas was delayed and to say the least, chaotic, but we got here.
I worked for Extension for seven years. One of the ironies was that the late Dr. James McAfee (best turf man our state ever produced), my fellow A&M Consolidated Tiger and Little League teammate and I both got our degrees from Big 10 schools (he from Purdue, me of course from OSU), and we ended up working together and sharing the same secretary, starting the same day and leaving the same day.
I began commercial radio in 1978 and many other things (newspapers, magazine, calendars, garden shows, newsletters, books, website) began to fall in line. We had a second son Todd and then our daughter Erin, all born in the decade of the ‘70s. We moved from Farmers Branch to McKinney in 1977.
After we moved, Lynn almost immediately became active in the McKinney ISD schools, first as a PTO president, then (1984 until present) as a school board member. She has been instrumental in many great projects in our town, and for that she’s been named Volunteer of the Year in 1997 and Citizen of the Year in 2006. I married a winner!
In addition to our three children of whom we are incredibly proud, we have seven wonderful grandchildren, and we will be spending much of today with all of them just as we spent one of the most wonderful evenings of our lives last night at Rick’s Steakhouse with them.
For all of these blessings I thank God with all of my heart. For the joys and richness Lynn has brought to our marriage, I thank her immensely. Every man should be so fortunate to find a wife, mother and grandmother as fine as I did.
I love you, Lynn.
You’re as beautiful as the day that I married you. You are a blessing to me, and I thank you for every one of the 18,263 days that we’ve been married so far! What a wonderful journey. Let’s go for another 50 years!