As I was sitting in Miss Dolly Harrel’s homeroom at Alamo Heights High School in San Antonio in 1953, in walked a NEW girl! WHO IS THAT??!! Grace Nan Jennings.
She bowled me over. It was “love at first sight.” I was barely sixteen.
We dated through graduation in 1954 and went on to UT-Austin where the competition became more intense. Nan pledged Tri Delt, was an advisor at Littlefield dormitory for two years, was inducted into Orange Jackets and was a Good Fellow. She was one of the most popular and attractive ladies on campus. I was rocking along with NROTC, Phi Delta Theta, and Texas Cowboys, trying to keep my grades up. Romantically, however, things were improving slowly. Only after
I recited Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s, How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
In the moonlight at the Tri-Delt house, did things become more amorous!
In June 1958, I graduated, was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy and married my sweetheart, all in the same week. For the next two years, we enjoyed Coronado, California while I was going to amphibious training school, then stationed aboard the USS Thomaston (LSD-28) as Communications Officer, and doing shore duty at the Recruit Training Command as Battalion Commander.
Following active duty assignments, Nan and I moved to Washington, DC where I enrolled in Johns Hopkins, School of Advanced International Studies. Our first child, Gibbs III, was born there in 1961. Upon graduation, I joined First National City Bank (Citibank) and moved to New York, where our second child, Shelley Grace, was born.
In November 1963, we were transferred to Panama just a week before JFK was assassinated, followed by serious rioting between the Republic of Panama and the Canal Zone. In January 1964, throughout these upheavals, Nan was a real trooper, learning to keep a low profile, avoiding public gatherings, e.g., political rallies, funerals, soccer games, etc.
These early experiences kept us in good stead as we moved on later to the far-flung countries of Honduras, Bolivia and Sri Lanka. Throughout our 10 years of living overseas with Citibank and USAID, and our many years in Houston, it has been Nan’s intuitive sense of fairness and her willingness to be forever flexible that has kept our marriage intact. Never have I met a more unselfish person. And as
E. B. Browning said, “I may love thee better after death.”
-a grateful and devoted husband, Gibbs Macdaniel, Jr