Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Romance that began at OU-C in 1948 continues today for Chillicothe couple

When Dorcie and Bill Jones attended Ohio University-Chillicothe in the 1940s, they were looking for a college education. They received that but, equally as importantly, found each other. The result has been a marriage of more than 50 years that includes great experiences, wonderful memories and a family of four children, 12 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

It all began with a car ride involving their siblings. “Bill’s brother gave my sister a ride home from Athens. I thought he was attractive, but he had a girlfriend,” Dorcie explained. “Then, I found out that he has a brother who would attend the branch. When I recognized Bill because he looked like his brother, I introduced myself, and he didn’t have a chance.”

As Bill puts it, “I like to say that she chased me until I caught her.”

Dorcie, now 81 years old, and Bill, 83, first met in 1948, just two years after OU-C opened its doors at what was then Chillicothe High School. Bill was typical of many of the campus’ first students, in using the GI Bill to pursue his education after returning from service in World War II. After six years of courtship, Dorcie and Bill were married in 1954.

Interestingly, Dorcie first became enamored with her future husband when he broke a date to take care of his mother. “I was unhappy, but my father told me that if he takes care of his mom, Bill will take care of his wife. I thought that over, and it made sense.”

In fact, Bill did not even meet the criteria Dorcie had set for her future husband. “I always said that whoever I married would be a good dancer and a good swimmer, and Bill does neither.”

For Bill, recognizing the girl he wanted to marry was much simpler. “I knew she was the one early on. We just seemed to hit it off,” he said.

Their college career was similar to that of many other students on the regional campus at the time.

Then, as now, OU-C’s focus was on providing educational opportunities for the region.

Bill, a Southeastern High School graduate, and Dorcie, a Chillicothe High graduate, were typical of the student body at the time. “There were students from almost every county school in Ross County and from the city school,” Bill said. “There was a good cross-section of students. I knew some of the students fairly well from competing against them in high school sports, and got to know many of them better in college.”

Dorcie earned a two-year degree in general education, mainly secretarial courses. Bill earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce. “OU-C only offered two-year degrees at the time, and you had to complete classes for a bachelor’s degree in Athens,” Bill said.

A typical date would include an evening at Ben’s, a local restaurant and bar. “It was a popular hangout. Dorcie was a good dancer, and she even got me to dance sometimes,” Bill said. They also were active in the OU-C Club, an unofficial group of college students who would gather above Anderson’s Restaurant downtown for meetings and dances.

There was also a connection to the Athens campus. “Our English professor was from Athens, and he involved us in many events on that campus, which was great,” Dorcie said.

During his last two years of college, Bill worked nights in a laboratory at the Mead plant, then drove to Athens four days a week to take classes. “He would come by my house for an hour or so each night, and then leave for his job at Mead,” Dorcie said.

After graduation, Bill pursued a career in human resources with Nationwide Insurance in Columbus. His time with Nationwide also led him to Syracuse, N.Y., Butler, Pa., and, finally, to Canton before he retired in 1990. There was also a stint as an industrial engineer with Westinghouse in Columbus.

She worked as an administrative assistant with the Secret Services’ offices in Columbus and Pittsburgh, Pa.

After retirement, the Joneses returned to Chillicothe, where they grew flowers commercially on their property east of town for five years.

Many people in the community recognize them from Bill’s role with the Chillicothe Country Club, including his friendly demeanor and ability to make any stranger to the club feel like a long-lost friend. He served as general manager of the club for nine years, beginning in 2001 and was previously president and vice president of the club’s board of trustees.

The Chillicothe Campus takes pride in preparing students for rewarding careers and fulfilling lives, and Dorcie and Bill Jones have set a high standard to meet in that regard.

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