Jimmy Neeley first met his high school sweetheart, Becky, in Spanish class at their high school in Longview, Texas. The year was 1969 and Becky was a sophomore while Jimmy was in his last year of school and getting ready to enlist in the Navy. 

 Middle photo: High school senior year portraits of Jimmy Neeley in 1969 and Becky Neeley in 1971.

When Becky turned 15, Jimmy took her on her first date and when he shipped off they wrote letters. Jimmy knew he was in love and even bought an engagement ring, but Becky had reservations. 

“My mom did not want me to be involved with anyone in the military during the time of Vietnam, because you don’t know what’s gonna happen,” she remembers. 

Becky declined Jimmy’s proposal and later sent him a “dear John” letter, breaking it off between the two of them. From there, their lives went in different directions. It took 47 years for them to be reunited.

Top Photo: Jimmy and Becky Neeley at their wedding in Rockwall, Texas, on Valentine’s Day of 2020.

This broadcast is supported in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Originally aired March 17, 2023 , on NPR’s Morning Edition.