All he had to do was ask … but not on the phone

05/17/2014 7:30 PM

05/17/2014 7:30 PM

After two years of admiring Mary Alice Turley from afar, Jim Steinbrink finally screwed up the courage to ask her for a date. It was the winter of 1944 in the small farming community of Wetmore, Kan.

But he didn’t dare call. The neighbor ladies liked to listen in on the party line, and he didn’t want them to hear him get turned down.

So 18-year-old Jim drove to Mary Alice’s farm. When her mother came to the kitchen door, Jim asked, “Would Mary Alice like to go to the movie?”

“You’ll have to ask her,” Mrs. Turley replied.

Mary Alice, then 16, came out and said yes. She’d been hoping Jim would ask her out. That weekend, they went to the movies.

First impressions:

Mary Alice: “I thought he was quite cute, and he gave a good impression. He was a nice young man and real shy, so I tried to draw him out.”

Jim: “She was really nice, pretty and friendly.”

The unfolding: They saw each other almost every weekend. Almost instantly, Jim knew Mary Alice was the girl for him. Within six months, Mary Alice knew Jim was the man for her. “I liked everything about him,” she says.

The wedding: Instead of proposing, one day Jim asked Mary Alice, “When can we get married?”

“You have to ask my daddy,” she informed him. Her father agreed, and they were wed on Feb. 20, 1949, in Hiawatha, Kan.

Family: They live at Lake Waukomis. They have three children, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

Careers: Jim’s career at TWA brought the family to the Kansas City area. When their children were older, Mary Alice went to nursing school and then worked as a nurse at North Kansas City Hospital.

Favorite shared activities: They have driven their motor home all over the country. They’ve traveled internationally and, in Jim’s small plane, have flown around the country. They also like to read and watch television.

What keeps their relationship strong: Before they married, Jim’s mother told Mary Alice, “He’s a good boy but he’s stubborn.” Mary Alice learned to work around that. They accept each other and appreciate their differences. “It’s a waste of energy to fight and be angry,” Mary Alice says.

The qualities they most appreciate in one another:

Mary Alice: “ Jim tells me he loves me all the time. He’s thoughtful and does a lot as far as helping me around the house.”

Jim: “I was so lucky to get her. Mary Alice is beautiful, a wonderful person, a hard worker and a good cook. I’m so appreciative of our terrific relationship.”

Deborah Shouse is a freelance writer. Suggest a Love Story couple by writing to

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