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1980’s romance kindled at TJC

Pingpong, spaghetti dinners, mission trips and a comfy couch for quick naps were all an integral part of the Methodist Student Union at Tyler Junior College in 1982; but the greatest benefit was a close sense of community.

Alumni Nannette Williams, JohnComer and Rene’ Hurtado were a part of that close family-type group. After previously getting lost in the crowd at a larger school, Williams was looking for a place to fit in at TJC and she found it at the Methodist Student Union.

“It’s one of those places you can think back to and you can see the furniture, hear the sounds, and see the people just as they were,” said Williams. She said it was a place to go when you were trying to figure out what things you needed to call Mom about and what you could try to do yourself. The minister who was in charge, Harvey Beckendorf, was like Dad to everybody. “It was the days before technological communications,” said Williams. “If you wanted to find somebody you hung around and waited for them to show up.”

Williams only attended TJC for one semester, but friendships were formed that have lasted for 30 years. In fact, omer, who graduated in 1983 with an associate degree in liberal arts, and Hurtado, who studied graphic ommunication/photography, were married in December 1982.

Hurtado was with Williams the first time she saw Comer. Hurtado was impressed, but Comer didn’t seem aware of her. When he left for the Methodist group’s mission trip to Belize, Hurtado said she thought he wasn’t coming back.

“I was relieved to see him again after the [spring] break,” said Hurtado. Comer remembers the first time he noticed Hurtado. He had considered taking a nap on the Student Union’s 20-yearold couch, but whoever got there first got the couch and she had beaten him to it. The Comers’ actually classified their first date as their first “not” date. Comer asked Hurtado to go to the Valentines dinner with him. As a disclaimer, Comer explained that it wasn’t a date or anything.

“I had a lot to learn,” said Comer.

It became even more evident that he had more to learn than what his classes at TJC offered. After eating at the restaurant where Hurtado worked, Comer didn’t have money for a tip. He left a note on the table that said, “I owe you.”

To his credit though, Comer did walk Hurtado to her classes and carried her books.

The Methodist Student Union looks much the same today as it did in 1982. Only it’s called “retro” now. The games are there. Lunch is served every Tuesday. And they still sponsor mission trips except, because of students’ limited funds, they now focus on local missions.

This year they will be doing things in Tyler. Beckendorf retired in 1992 and the current director of the Wesley Foundation is Rev. Sunny Farley.

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