by Anna Ferraro
Some love stories begin in school, at church, or through “chance” meetings. For Randy and Becky Cooper, their story began in some old-fashioned, snail-mail letters – in Randy’s scrawled handwriting. Through a pastor’s invitation, Randy, a young college graduate at the time, sent his first letter off to a girl that he had never met. His pastor in Manchester, IL had said when he handed Randy the address, “Go ahead and write to her, she’s waiting to hear from you!” Unfortunately for Randy, this was not at all true, and when Becky received his enthusiastic letter, she was highly confused.
A student at Moody Bible Institute at the time, Becky was not sure about this complete stranger who had been so bold as to write a casually affectionate letter to her. Becky’s brother encouraged her to decline the letter, and express that she was not interested in him. Which she did. Randy was not at all dissuaded. Replying casually, he asked, “Can we just be pen pals, instead?” And thus the letters continued. In a foreshadowing of the faithful love that was building in his heart towards this college girl several hundred miles away, Randy continued to write.
Three months later, Randy was still writing her letters, and she was still confused. Randy decided it was time to take the next step. When his Winchester high school marching band was scheduled to perform in Becky’s area, Randy arranged a meeting. They set up a meeting at the center of Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL.
Randy shares, “I already had feelings for this person I had been writing to and once I saw her, I KNEW! I told the people I was with that I would be marrying this girl.” Becky took a little more convincing. But once she got to know Randy, all her doubts resolved. Randy shares, “What first attracted us to each other was getting to know the true person. [For three months], we didn’t know what the other looked like!” As the months of true relationship deepened, they discovered beautiful connections between each other’s character, likes, dislikes, and especially, “sharing our faith in God.” Randy shares, “We both had, and still do, a strong faith. We would make phone calls once in awhile but mostly letters. We both had great families and many other similarities that drew us together.”
Their relationship progressed quickly from there. Randy shares, “We met in May, were engaged on Labor Day, and married in December.” Prior to their wedding, they were only together in person for two weeks. One of those short times together included their engagement. Randy laughed, “We were engaged in the back of a bus. I was singing with The Chosen Ones at the time. I had met Becky’s parents in Arkansas that day, and I asked her parents permission. They said ‘yes.’ So, when we left the concert, I took Becky to the back of the bus, asked her to marry me, she said ‘yes.’ We stopped her parents on the road so they could see the ring, hugged, and headed back to Illinois.”
Speaking of the wedding, the highlight of the day for the happy young couple was being together with their entire families. Randy said, “The best part was having Becky’s mother there. She had just had breast cancer surgery and still made the trip from Arkansas to the Chicago area. We both have big families and they were all there together. I would say having our families all in one place was the best part of our wedding.”
After their wedding, Randy’s job at the time took them on the road. There, they shared many memories together. Randy says, “There are so many memories we have enjoyed, including, a week in Washington D.C., taking our young children to the Bahamas for a week to minister in a Christian school there, having a three-week camping excursion with our young kids from Illinois to Maine (sleeping in a tent the whole time), and spending a week in Mexico, courtesy of Westfair Christian Academy.”
In the 1980’s, Randy settled into his work at Westfair Christian Academy here in Jacksonville, and there he and Becky have been ever since. Randy shares, “The thing we love most about our life together is that we are together all the time. Other men ask me, “How do you spend all this time with your wife? Because in today’s culture, traditionally, most men and women go separate ways, but we’re together all the time. …We go to work together, we come home together, we do everything together! It’s hard if we’re apart for any extended period of time.”
In closing, Randy summed up their faithful love like this: “My wife is the love of my life. She is such a beautiful and strong woman. We want to minister together as long as the Lord allows.” Today, Randy and Becky continue to live and work in Jacksonville, IL – serving the Lord at Westfair Christian Academy, and running the all-time town favorite, the “Frozen Penguin” self-serve yogurt bar. They love spending time with their three adult children, being active in their church, and enjoying their beautiful granddaughter, Anna Mae.