On Valentine’s Day, Gene “Jake” and Bonnie Jacobsen of Greenfield will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The Jacobsens shared a few reasons behind their half century of love and commitment.
A surprise start
Bonnie said she neither expected the call, nor did she recognize the man on the other end of the phone when Jake called her for a date. Well, at least not at first.
“He just called on the phone and asked me out,” she said. “I didn’t know who he was.”
Bonnie, who lived in rural Adams County as a child, had spent some time going to school in Mt. Etna before the family moved to Bridgewater. Jake had already graduated by the time she attended Bridgewater-Fontanelle High School. Bonnie said it was after she, too, had graduated that she received that first surprise call.
“He said, ‘This is Jake from back home,’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t know a Jake from back home,’” she said.
Bonnie said she believes it was a roommate who tipped her off to who was asking her out.
“I think maybe my roommate said, ‘That’s Gene Jacobsen.’”
At that point, Bonnie said she recalled having seen him around, though they had never spoken.
Originally of Fontanelle, Jake, who is now retired from 21st Century Cooperative where he worked as a feed department manager, had earned his degree in agricultural business from Northwest Missouri State University and then returned home. At some point, Jake said he saw Bonnie around town, and that she left an impression in his mind.
“I just seen her and I liked her looks, so I wanted to take her out,” he said.
‘We just clicked’
After their first date at Redwood Steak House in the summer of 1970, things began to move fast. Bonnie, who is now retired from Adair County Medical Clinic where she worked as a physician’s receptionist, had graduated from AIB College of Business in Des Moines. While the couple was dating, Bonnie was working in Des Moines and the couple dated long-distance.
“We went more on weekends when I’d come home .... But he’d come to Des Moines sometimes,” she said.
The pair found themselves very compatible with one another. They were engaged in November.
“We just clicked. ... There’s some people you can talk to, some you can’t. But she was very easy to talk to, easy to get along with,” Jake said.
Bonnie said Jake always showed her a good time, often with others from the community.
“We laughed a lot. ... I liked his friends, it was a good time, really,” she said.
They were married the following Valentine’s Day. The ceremony and reception were held at United Methodist Church in Bridgewater in 1971.
“I just decided she was the one. I was about 24 years old and I’d been around a little bit, but she was the one. You just knew it,” Jake said.
Bonnie, who was about 21 at the time, moved back home and started work in Greenfield. She said the secret to their connection wasn’t that they did anything complex, but that they simply enjoyed time with one another.
“We just had a lot of fun together,” she said.
Jake said throughout the years they have remained closely connected.
“We’ve always got along pretty well,” he said.
A common interest
Along with compatibility, Jake and Bonnie have always shared a common passion: sports. The pair both participated in high school sports — Bonnie, a cheerleader and Jake, a football player. Jake said the sports tradition continued on into his and Bonnie’s new relationship.
“We watched a lot of football games, basketball games, a lot of sports,” he said, adding that included their mutual love for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
“Every weekend in Fontanelle ... the whole town got together and we watched the Hawks,” he said.
The couple has two daughters, Staci and Jami, and have four grandchildren. Bonnie said their shared interest in sports has continued to develop through their family.
Their granddaughter is a senior this year. Although they did not get to go to all of the games due to COVID-19 restrictions, as soon as they could, they did.
“When they opened that up we were really happy to get to go,” she said. “Her team is doing real good, they’re real fun to watch.”
According to a Nodaway Valley Girls Basketball Facebook post, the Jacobsen’s granddaughter Lexi Shike “has broken the single season record for offensive rebounds and continues to build on it” with 109 as of Feb. 3. Jr. All-Star’s website stated this season that “Shike’s rebounding is a large reason for the Wolverine’s success,” giving her grandmother and grandfather yet another reason for shared excitement over sports.
Their grandson Jacob Eastman participates in sports as well.
“We don’t get to see his as much because he’s in Altoona, but he loves sports,” Bonnie said.
Give and take
While harmony and like-mindedness are important ingredients in a marriage, Bonnie said another key component is “a lot of give and take.”
“We don’t always agree on everything, of course, so we just have to ... give on this one, take on that one,” she said.
The couple said this includes a lot of little things over the years, but that married couples have to sometimes bend on the big things, as well.
After 50 years, the Jacobsens said they have recently been looking back through photos and mementos of their time spent together, including a receipt from their first hotel room in St. Joseph, Missouri, dated that first Valentine’s Day.
“I got out our wedding pictures a couple of days ago to look, and in there was the receipt from our Holiday Inn that first night,” Bonnie said. “It was $12 for our motel room.”
When it comes to lifelong marriages, Bonnie offered a word of advice.
“You’re not always going to agree, but if you love them, you just work it out,” she said.
The Jacobsens hope to celebrate Valentine’s Day and their 50th wedding anniversary with their family at The Olive Branch in Greenfield.