Valentine’s Day conjures up thoughts of chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, red roses, cards trimmed in lace and ribbon and love stories. Jeanne and Ken Rodriguez of Marietta share their love story of how Cupid transfixed their hearts at a young age.
Love at first sight?
“Absolutely,” said Ken, who is a sports anchor for Fox 5 news. “It was definitely for me. I can still see what she looked like in my mind. I don’t think it was immediate for her but she finally came around.”
Ken said the first time he saw Jeanne, she had pigtails and wore a red top.
“She still is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” he said.
Jeanne and Ken met when they were in the 8th grade at McEachern Middle School.
“She was the girl next door,” said Ken, explaining that the two grew up as next-door neighbors. His family moved from New York to Cobb County.
“We started out as friends. We had the same circle of friends,” said Jeanne, whose family moved from Forest Park when her father, Roswell Story, was hired by Cobb County.
Jeanne and Ken dated throughout high school, attending important events together like homecomings and proms.
“We had our moments where we broke up and dated other people for short periods of time,” Jeanne said.
Upon graduation, Ken attended Furman University on a football scholarship but came home to go to Georgia State University for journalism. Jeanne, who was at Jacksonville State, also returned home.
“We’ve been together ever since,” she said.
The couple married at age 23 nearly 30 years ago on Sept. 15, 1984. They have two children, 23-year-old Erik and 22-year-old Kristi.
“When you’re in high school, you romanticize everything. As you grow, you realize the reasons why you want to marry someone. The conviction grew with each passing year that she was clearly the one for me,” Ken said.
Friendship makes the basis of the marriage.
“He is my best friend. He makes me laugh. I feel loved. He’s very warm. I can’t imagine my life being with anybody but him,” said Jeanne, a Realtor with Maximum One Realty.
“When I’m with her, I feel like everything’s right with the world. The best part of my day is when I come home and we’re just together. That’s the perfect end of my day,” Ken said.
The bond the couple established was strengthened through the years when Ken’s career took the couple all over the country.
“We’ve been through so much together. We’ve relied on each other so much. It’s been us relying on each other. That’s how we grew,” he said.
“I thank God every day. It’s important to pray every day about relationships, even one that seems divinely inspired. I still pray about it every day and am thankful for what I have,” Ken said.