How we met: ‘By the time I called, she was dating other people’

Randy Sue was studying at college in Texas in the spring of 1966 when she went to visit a friend in Raymondville, near the Mexican border. “I spotted a picture of a handsome man on the wall and asked who it was. My friend told me it was her brother, Courtney, who was in Germany with the army,” she says. Randy Sue joked to her friend’s mother that she was going to be her daughter-in-law. “She hugged me and said she’d been praying for me,” she laughs.

But when Courtney received a letter from his sister telling him she had met “his future wife”, he was less than impressed. “I was 5,000 miles away and definitely didn’t want my sister telling me what to do,” he says. In 1968, he returned to Texas and found a job at a company that made office equipment. His sister continued her matchmaking attempts. “She kept telling each of us that the other one really wanted to meet up,” says Randy Sue. “But I’d just seen it as a joke.”

They finally met at Courtney’s sister’s wedding in 1969. Randy Sue says Courtney was “polite and kind”. When he asked if she wanted to “chase” the bride and groom – “a Texas tradition where you follow them in their car as a send-off” – she went along.

A few days later, Courtney called to ask Randy Sue on a date, but she was busy. “She was dating other people, so by the time I called, her weekend was already booked up!” he laughs. Instead, they had long phone conversations. “He racked up a huge bill,” says Randy Sue. But before they could meet, Courtney told her that he would be spending the next few months in California for work. Then in October he found himself close to her home town, Corpus Christi. “I was obsessed with motorcycles at the time,” he says. “I wanted a four-cylinder Honda, but was struggling to find one.” Eventually, he discovered one that was available close to Corpus Christi. When he went to pick it up, he asked her if she was free for a ride. They spent their time together racing around the local roads. “He went so fast, he really blew it out. I loved it,” she says.

A few weeks later, Courtney’s sister invited them to her house for a visit, where the couple shared their first kiss. The week after, they returned for Thanksgiving and Courtney told Randy Sue that he loved her. “We were sitting on his grandmother’s love seat, which we still own,” says Randy Sue. “We like to re-enact that first Thanksgiving every year.” Less than a week later, Courtney asked Randy Sue to marry him. “We’d spent so much time talking on the phone, and on the long drive to my sister’s house, that I just knew,” he says.

In June 1970, they married. Their three daughters were born in 1975, 1981 and 1983. They lived in Courtney’s home town of Harlingen, Texas, before moving to Houston a decade later. Randy Sue started a childcare business when her children were young, before working as a teacher for children with autism.

During the pandemic, they received an email from a cousin, who does family genealogy. “She told us that Courtney had a daughter from a previous short-term relationship,” says Randy Sue. Courtney adds: “I’d had a date with a woman when I lived in Europe, who I knew had later gone on to have a child. She never revealed the identity of the father, though.” Although it was a bit of a surprise, they have since built a relationship with Courtney’s first daughter, who lives in England. One day, when it is easier to travel, they hope to meet.

Courtney has ADHD and autism, which he struggled to cope with during the early years of marriage. “It has been tough at times,” says Randy Sue. “We’ve found ways to manage some of his challenges since his diagnosis and it’s changed our relationship for the better. He is so intelligent, loving and compassionate.” Courtney recognises how much his wife has supported him. “I had a very difficult upbringing and I wasn’t always an easy person to live with. Now, I’m doing everything to be a good husband to her. The fact she’s still here is a blessing.”