In the fall of 1965, Tim Berry was a 17-year old high school senior in Helena, Montana. He was busy going to school and working two jobs, one at a gas station and one at Brackman’s Grocery. It was while working at the grocery store that Tim first saw the girl he was destined to marry. He saw her often but he was either too busy working or too shy to approach her. He didn’t even know her name.
In November 1965, Tim’s mom, Joyce, was temporarily hospitalized at St. John’s. While visiting his mom, Tim learned that the girl from the store worked in the hospital and, as fate would have it, was assigned to care for his mom. Joyce introduced the girl, Sandy Thompson. He finally had her name.
Joyce thought very highly of Sandy and suggested he ask her out. Tim didn’t need convincing, and they had their first date on Dec. 4, 1965. Something clicked and they were inseparable. They talked a lot and shared their dreams and aspirations.
One of Tim’s goals was to get a college education. As high school graduation approached, Tim was offered college scholarships but he elected to enlist in the Navy. His dad and uncles served in World War II, and Tim felt the call to serve as well. The Navy also afforded the promise of the GI Bill and four years of college. Upon completion of boot camp, when Tim returned to Helena on military leave, they decided to get married. In Montana at that time, you had to be 21 to marry without your parents’ permission. In Idaho, the legal age was 18. Tim was 18, and Sandy had just barely turned 19. They eloped to Coeur D’Alene, where a justice of the peace married them with Tim’s mom as their witness and photographer.
After a short honeymoon at Swan Lake, their lives continued at Naval Air Station Memphis, Tennessee, and Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas, before returning to Montana, where Tim graduated from Montana State in Bozeman. They later moved their growing family to Helena. Tim had a successful career as an environmental engineer for Morrison Maierle and retired after 38 years. Sandy worked at St. Peter's Hospital and later opened an in-home day care for teachers’ children, which allowed her to be home with her children and off when they were out of school. When the children were grown, she worked at Safeway until retiring after 23 years.
In retirement, Tim and Sandy thoroughly enjoy spending time with their six children and 14 grandchildren. Whether they are watching band, choir and basketball in Helena, ice-skating, horseback riding and Bricks for Kids in Florida, helping in a classroom in Libby, watching band, track and football in Thompson Falls, or soccer and piano in Bozeman, they are together… as they have been for 50 years.