Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Friends and Neighbors: The Jenners

Finding love in the military

 

Dawn Fossand

Kimball veterans, Mary Kay and Bob Jenner, met and married while serving in the Air Force. The couple now resides in Kimball, Mary Kay's hometown, after more than two decades in neighboring Colorado.

You can find love anywhere, even in the military. That is the case for Kimball residents Bob and Mary Kay Jenner, who met while serving in the Air Force.

Mary Kay was born in Kimball to Mary (Linn) Moore and Dick Moore. She graduated from Kimball High School in 1969, attended to college to major in piano for a year in Nevada, Mo., and then transferred to the University of Wyoming where she majored in home economics. In March 1975, Mary Kay joined the Air Force and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. Bob joined a month earlier in February 1975.

While she was stationed at Keesler, she was trained in the operation of morse code, and she later taught others at the base. Morse code was used at the time in third world countries for communication because they really didn't have much in the way of telephones lines.

"When I was in the military, they said this type of communication will always be and that it will never go away, and guess what? They don't have it anymore," said the former Air Force sergeant.

Now morse code is used by some as a hobby, instead of a tool. Mary Kay said she can still recall most of the codes, and that it was enjoyable work.

Mary Kay met her husband, Bob, while stationed at Keesler. They both worked in the same building as instructors. Bob said that he and Mary Kay went on their first date on a whim. Mary Kay had to pass by Bob's office to exit the building.

"At the time," explained Bob, "she was waiting for an assignment, so she was in charge of closing up the building that I was an instructor in. She was walking down the hall. The weekend before, I had been to a place called Dauphin Island, where I had gotten sunburned. She (Mary Kay) had asked me where I had gotten sunburned. I told her, 'Dauphin Island,' and she had stated that she would love to go there." Bob said that he thought Mary Kay was currently dating someone in his squadron, so to be ornery he thought he would invite her. She accepted.

"I thought, 'Oh, Ron's going to beat me up,' but she's worth it," he said.

While they were at Dauphin Island enjoying their first date, they enjoyed the beach and did some swimming. In 1976, less than one year later, and while still in the military, they married. The couple expressed the desire to revisit the island where they spent their first date.

Bob and Mary Kay could not have children of their own, and so about five years into the marriage they adopted their daughter, Beth, from Chile. Mary Kay had a sister-in-law from Chile who helped the couple in the search of a child.

"Two weeks before Beth was born, the Lord spoke to me in a dream and told me that we were going to have a little girl," Mary Kay joyfully explained. "And it was so funny because my pastor's wife in Thorton had asked me, 'So, what do you think you're going to get – a girl or a boy?' I told her, 'The Lord told me that we were going to have a girl."

At present, the Jenners' daughter is married and living in San Diego, Calif.

After the couple both spent four years in the military, they moved to Colorado and spent 28 years there. While in Colorado, the couple spent almost eight years of time volunteering with the Promise Keepers organization. Promise Keepers is a Christian organization for men. While it originated in Colorado and now spread across the United States, independent branches are also established in New Zealand and Canada. It is self-described as "a Christ-centered organization dedicated to introducing men to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, helping them to grow as Christians." It is a non-profit organization with no affiliation with any particular Christian denomination.

In 2000, Mary Kay went to the Phillipines as part of the administration group to hold a conference there.

"I was in charge of the headquarters during the conference in the Philippines," said Mary Kay. "My role was a little different over there. I was there to help them with their conference, not to be in charge."

She said that besides the blessing of sharing the conference with the people in the Philippians people, she also was able to reconnect with Carol Nunez, who was one of the foreign exchange student that her family hosted in Kimball in the 1967-68 school year.

"It was wonderful seeing her. We had such a good time," she said.

Bob stayed in the states and spent time with their daughter, Beth, who was not at all comfortable with having mom out of the country.

"I had never left her," Mary Beth explained.

The couple have both also been involved in the building of church congregations, which began while they resided in Colorado. The two would work with the Denver Rescue Mission and held church services at the mission. The couple at one time helped a couple establish a biker's church service in Broomfield, Colo. The first year they helped the bikers' church with their music, as they had a portable piano and sound system.

"If you have ever been around bikers when they come to know the Lord, they are huggers," she said. "It's because some have never known love before," Bob offered.

The couple have also helped with the building of the congregation here locally at the Hope Assembly of God Church.

"When we have prayer times, we have more praises than we do prayers, because of what God is doing in people's lives and that's unusual in these times," Bob said. "We've been involved in encouraging people, because when Jesus was here, that's what he did."

The couple decided to move to Nebraska before the death of Mary Kay's father, Dick. She felt that being closer would allow them to spend more time with her parents, so they transferred to North Platte and purchased a home. Less than a year after moving to North Platte, they were in Kimball for a visit. On the way back to North Platte, Mary Kay said that her husband made a statement that if anything were to ever open in Kimball in the Farm Bureau office, that he would gladly accept the position. "Two days later, his boss called and asked if he was still interested in Kimball," Mary Kay said. "I just felt like the Lord was stirring us to move here."

Bob came back to Kimball the following week, and then Mary Kay also moved back within a month.

Bob and Mary Kay worked together in the insurance business for approximately six months. At that point, Mary Kay went to work managing Vista Villa and the Park Terrace apartment complex. She now works at The Western Nebraska Observer as the office manager. Bob quit the insurance business earlier this year to work in the corporate office at Cabela's main office in Sidney, and said he enjoys it tremendously.

 

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