Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Paulina Martinez
For 57 years, Earl Volkman has been fixing office equipment, but it wasn’t until he met Inez that he learned how to fix his own family.
“He, in his first marriage, lost two girl babies, and I, in my first marriage, lost a boy baby. Well, I had always wanted boys desperately ‘cause I had girls,” said Inez. “He had always wanted girls because he lost two girls, and you know that’s part of the reason we got together.”
Earl started his career in 1929, taking classes at Lake Land College. It seemed the couple would never cross paths, since they had previous marriages and lived in different states. Earl lived in Mattoon, and Inez lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
“At the time I was divorced and really wasn’t too interested in fellas,” said Inez. “But towards the end of the night he said, ‘If I come up next week, will you go to the dance with me?’”
Inez admits that she was automatically going to say no, but says something inside her told her to say yes. Despite the distance, the couple found a way to make it work.
“After that it was constant dating, and it wasn’t until October 22 that he asked me to marry him,” Inez said. “The following February 12 we got married and it’s been happily ever after since then.”
Inez started her tax service career by taking college courses at Lake Land College after the couple married. After a few years of working separately, the couple has been working together in the same building for 43 years.
“I say God sent him to that dance,” said Inez.
Both couples say they’ve experienced many changes throughout their careers, but their marriage remains strong.