Feb. 14, 2019
By David Nordby The Brillion News
BRILLION – Maybe the fun of it is there is no typical love story. Companionship comes from a lot of places, and in some cases, it’s in old friendships.
That’s the case for two Brillion residents, 75-year-old Jim Eichhorst and 70-year-old Judy Nies-Eichhorst. After 53 years of marriage for Jim, his wife, Pat, passed away from heart complications in 2017. After 44 years of marriage for Judy, her husband, Larry, passed away of a massive heart attack in 2016.
Jim and Judy are both from Brillion. Their lives have always been connected somehow, starting with when they knew each other from Trinity Lutheran Church when they were children.
As adults, they were a part of the same group of friends who met every month to play cards.
By November 2018, they were married with a wedding ceremony at Trinity Lutheran Church and a reception at Carstens Mill.
The intertwining of their lives dates back decades. Judy is a parent to two daughters and one son; Jim has two sons and one daughter.
“I would babysit his kids and when I got married and we had children, his daughter, Paula, babysat my children,” Judy says in laughter.
During their careers at Ariens Company, they would play cards in a group of six couples that met monthly. The group was close, even spending nights away together.
“It went on for years,” Jim said. “The biggest problem we had was trying to figure out how much beer did we need.”
It wasn’t until a church picnic in 2017 when the two looked at each other differently. The events of that day were happenstance in their own way. Judy didn’t plan to go to the picnic but her daughter, Lisa, persuaded her to get out of the house. Jim admits he went for the food.
Members of their card club called the pair over to sit and eat with them. When the other card club members were gone, Judy and Jim spent two hours talking with each other – what they originally thought was 45 minutes.
“She said to me, ‘I already went through this with losing Larry. Now I realize it’s not been that long since you lost Pat, but if you ever want to sit down and talk … I’ll be more than happy to talk with you,’” Jim recalled.
Likes, dislikes, old times and grieving were all topics of discussion during those two hours.
Four days later, Jim called Judy. Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, movies and other weekly dates followed.
“Every week he was calling me,” Judy said.
“It was fun thinking about, ‘I could learn to like her really well,’” Jim recalls.
The concept of dating was prevalent again for both of them. For Judy, there were a lot of questions.
“It’s a whole new thing,” Judy said. “What do I wear? How do I do my hair? I called Lisa right away. She was over here that day … and when he came, I was so nervous. That part is just like when you were 18 again.”
Jim was nervous, too.
“Afraid I would say the wrong thing … Before the relationship would even get started, it would end because I would say the wrong thing or offend her in some way, so you pick your words very carefully,” Jim said.
There were questions about moving on from their previous life, too.
“I went to my pastor twice,” Jim said, asking him if he thought it was all right. “I think a guy tends to be less emotional about it at this point. I knew there was nothing in my wife’s case that would prolong her life short of another open-heart surgery.”
The dating was an old school dynamic. Jim doesn’t text on his cell phone, so all of their conversation was in-person talking on the dates. Sometimes conversations lasted four hours.
Please see the complete story in the Feb. 14, 2019 print edition of the Brillion News.