Majoring in broadcast news at Illinois State University, Gary holds a variety of jobs in the early 70’s. Through random chance, Gary found out about a job at a local restaurant called the Ranch House. Gary happened to be home one day (and was never home) and his Mom actually called him (she never called) and it was Mickey who mentioned “Ms. Epple” and that the Ranch House was hiring. Gary starts as a bartender there in September of ‘71, where another employee, Kathleen, has also just started as a waitress. Kathleen was working at a pizza restaurant and had become friends with two of their regulars. When the pizza restaurant permanently closed, the two regulars (at one of the last tables she waited on) mentioned to Kathleen that they had a connection at the Ranch House named Ms. Epple, who got her the job. It’s another story, but without Ms. Epple – the story would be quite different.
What became a marriage of 48+ years started off slowly, but grew. Gary’s first memory of Kathleen is her spilling all of the drinks that he had just prepared into the bar cash register. Kathleen’s first memory of Gary is an awkward conversation eating a meal prior to a shift. With no car, Kathleen would walk to work, even on cold winter nights. Gary noticed this and started offering her rides home. They began spending time together, with Gary showing an interest in Kathleen and buying her roses on Valentines day. They continue to spend more and more time together, going on a variety of dates. They marry at St. Gilbert’s church in Kathleen’s hometown of Grayslake, IL. In December their first child, Nathan, is born.
The family would live in the Bloomington/Normal area of Illinois for the next ten years. Following his major, Gary holds a variety of broadcasting jobs through the end of the 70’s. His first was at WJBC radio as reporter and newscaster in Bloomington, IL. He follows that with a position as a reporter and weekend anchor at channel 17 in Decatur. He then began his more than five year stint at channel 19-WRAU in Peoria as producer, then news director.
(from Nate) During this time, some of my most fond memories of my father is him taking me out to Garcia’s to get pizza and play video games. I have such nostalgia for Donkey Kong, Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, etc. as that’s what we did together. My father also LOVED movies and he claims he took me to see Star Wars 17 times in the theater; including three times in one day. He talked about it being a movie like no other, at that time, and that people actually clapped in the end.
This is also when Gary started his reputation as an overly generous gift-giver at Christmas time. I was so spoiled with all kinds of Star Wars toys: tons of action figures, ships, guns, bases, etc. I loved it.
In the spring of ’79, my heated game of Candy Land was ruined by the early arrival of my brother. (for the record, I was winning) My Mom drove me to the hospital, while in labor, while squeezing the life out of my arm, and driving a stick-shift. Amazing. My Dad got to the hospital just in time before Josh was born.