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‘Things will be tough, but . . . remember to keep God first’

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BY ERICA WRIGHT
Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

JOYCE AND JIMMY TYUS 

Live: Helena 

Married: August 29, 1998

Met: At an educational workshop at Hayes Middle School in 1996. At the time, Jimmy was a science teacher as well as a coach and Joyce was a science teacher at Green Acres Middle School.

“I was preparing for the playoffs at the time and my mind was really occupied and she and her friends were trying to be ‘bougie’ and we met at lunch during the workshop.” said Jimmy. “Then about a year later, I was doing a lunch program at Hayes and she came over to teach a class that summer and that’s when we began talking and getting to know each other better.”

Joyce remembers things a little differently. 

“We did meet at that workshop and my aunt wanted me to meet Jimmy because he reminded her so much of her son, they were both teachers at Hayes Middle School,” said Joyce. “She said ‘coach, this is my niece I wanted you to meet’ and he said ‘hey’ and kept going because he wasn’t interested — and that was in 1996. In the summer of ’97, we were both teaching summer school. He did a lunch program at Hayes and we re-met then. Every day he would come to my classroom to talk… and eventually he asked me out.”

First date: The summer of 1997 and they attended a birthday celebration. “Prior to that, we went to happy hour at the Embassy Suites in Birmingham with one of my friends and one of his and from there, we went to the birthday party,” recalled Joyce. “We really thought they were going to hit it off too because I didn’t want to go by myself and he didn’t want to go by himself, so at the happy hour he and I walked off and talked and we had good conversation. He was very funny and had a lot of jokes, our conversation was very easy.”

Jimmy also recalled the date going well and said, “I got a chance to meet her family for the first time… and it was a good date. We were both very attracted to each other and we just had good conversation.”

The turn: Jimmy knew Joyce was the one after a few months of dating. “We had so much in common, we had both been married before and we both had children and we were educators and we had really strong upbringings and some of the same family values. My father was an avid golfer and he used to play golf every weekend and one particular day, Joyce came over and went to the golf course with us and she fit so well . . .I knew that she was it because my father thought she was a good person.”

The proposal: The two never had an official proposal, Joyce said. “He never asked me ‘will you marry me’, I never got that. It would always come up in the course of conversation and he would say ‘when we get married…’ but he never did say will you marry me?’ I said well, when do you want to get married? and he said whenever you want, I’m ready.”

Jimmy said football season wasn’t a good time “because I was a coach and she said ‘well do you want to get married at Christmas’ and I told her no because that was still football season so I told her we needed to do it before then. So, she said August 29 and I said, ‘ok’ and all of this was just a few weeks before the [August] 29.”

The wedding: The two had a casual ceremony at Bryant Chapel AME Church in Birmingham with their family and close friends. For their reception, they had a fish fry at Joyce’s sister and brother-in-law’s house. 

Most memorable for the bride was “walking in and seeing him because he had said he was not going to come out if there was a lot of people out there. So, seeing him and having [my sons] walk me down the aisle. Also, our reception, it was just like a party, a celebration and we had a really good time with our families and some of our closest friends.” 

Most memorable for the groom was “when she was coming down the aisle, she had a smile on her face and seeing that smile and realizing she was happy. I told her how pretty she was and how she looked that day and that’s what I remember the most.” 

Words of wisdom: “Keeping God in the marriage is what I do daily,” said Joyce. “There are three people in the marriage, Jimmy, myself and God. You have to really believe in your mate. We also talk a lot and communicate with each other. For me, I didn’t want to make the same mistakes twice, meaning we had been married before and we know what happened in those marriages and I was determined to not let that happen in my marriage again.”

“Another key thing is trouble don’t last always, you can’t give up,” said Jimmy. “Things will be tough, but you have to be willing to work together and work things out and to remember to keep God first. Like she said, it’s three of us in this marriage and what we do has to be pleasing to Him. Talk with your spouse and don’t just talk but really listen and understand them.” 

Happily ever after: Joyce and Jimmy are both retired Birmingham City Schools educators. 

Joyce, a West Birmingham native graduated from Wenonah High School. She attended Tuskegee University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. 

Jimmy, an East Birmingham native graduated from Hayes High School. He attended Miles College and Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. 

Joyce has two sons from a previous marriage and Jimmy has three daughters and the couple has six grandchildren. The Tyuses enjoy traveling and spending time with family and are active in their sorority and fraternity. Joyce is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Jimmy is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.