Traverse City Record-Eagle

February 10, 2013

Couple blends two separate life stories into one

By Kathy Gibbons

TRAVERSE CITY — At 86, Bud Weede has plenty of stories to tell.

His wife, Jacqueline Tompkins-Weede, is only too happy to help him share them.

The two were married in 1995, both of them having been widowed following long, happy marriages — Bud to wife Jeanne for 47 years, Jacky to husband Garth for 35 years.

Still, they tease with the ease of longtime partners. They finish each other's sentences.

And Jacky is frankly awed at the life Bud has led — so much that in 2006, she assembled a collection of stories simply titled, "Bud's Book." After persuading him to take a writing class at Northwestern Michigan College's Life Academy with her, she had him dictate several essays about his family history. Combined with stories she wrote based on his recollections, and photos, she offered up a portrait of his life that she has shared with others.

Bud was born in the Upper Peninsula and moved to Traverse City with his family as a toddler, growing up on Fifth Street. "Bud's Book" provides a glimpse of a boy who loved cars. His first was a Model-T Ford that he bought with a friend. His next was a Model-T roofless pickup that he was able to purchase by saving money from his Traverse City Record-Eagle paper route.

Of course, like many of his generation, Bud grew up only too soon. In 1944, he left high school and joined the Marines, serving in Okinawa. Coming home after about a year-and-a-half, he ended up on a hospital ship before returning to Michigan. Back home, he enrolled in Central Michigan University and became a teacher — a career he pursued for 38 years.

Starting out teaching in Mount Pleasant, he relocated to Niles and spent 35 years there. He and Jeanne had four children, and loved nothing more than coming back to Traverse City in the summers to spend time at their cottage on Bluff Road. After their retirement, he and Jeanne built a home in Eastport.

Coincidentally, Jacky had dated Bud's brother, Tom, for a short time before she married Garth. She and Garth went on to have three children. A teacher, Jacky taught at Traverse City Central for three years before taking a job at Northwestern Michigan College. She retired from NMC after 30 years.

When Jacky and Bud began seeing each other, Jacky had been a widow for three years.

"I knew I could live alone," she said. "But by the third year, I got bored. So I told my neighbors, 'If you know any live ones, let me know.'"

Six months after she and Bud started dating, they married. Before they did, Jacky had to do some research.

"I wanted clarification of what was likely to happen after death — who we would be with on the 'other side,'" she wrote in "Bud's Book."

Her pastor said that while there are no marriages in heaven, "believers would be reunited with their loved ones," she wrote. "I could be with Garth and Bud with Jeanne."

When they said their vows, they referenced both of their deceased spouses, their parents, their children and multiple grandkids (including great-grand and a great-great-grand now).

The years since have been about getting to know each other and building a life together, even as they honored the memories of their deceased spouses.

"She kept asking me questions," Bud joked. "She still does."

And he continues to remain impressed and pleased with the book Jacky did about him — the first of about 10 she has written telling other people's stories over the years, including her own.

"I thought it was just a story, so when it turned into a book, I was thrilled," Bud said. "It's 10 years short of a full lifetime."