Three married couples choose to retire together

Author: Tammy L. Lane • First Posted: Monday, May 21, 2012

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Lisa and Mark WilloughbyNancy and Larry Blackford

Retirement brings many changes in life, especially when spouses bow out together. This year, three married couples are leaving Fayette County Public Schools after a combined 169 years of service in education.  

The Willoughbys

Mark and Lisa met in seventh-grade, became high school sweethearts and married at age 20 while attending Eastern Kentucky University.

After working in Bourbon County for a while, Mark commuted to Tates Creek High School, where he has been a technology education teacher. When he became head football coach in 2000, he and Lisa moved here and she began teaching kindergarten at Cassidy Elementary.

“You’ve always got the dinner-table talk,” Mark said when asked about couples in the same profession. “I don’t know how she deals with those little kids. They make me nervous. If she were to come over to the high school, it might intimidate her.”

Mark’s classes ranged from technology and graphic arts to photography and architecture.

“When I started, we didn’t have a dang computer in the classroom, and now I’ve got 30 – and need 40,” he recalled, adding, “I’m going to miss working with the kids more than anything.”

The Willoughbys plan to move to Florida, where they already have a boat. They also enjoy walking their dog, riding bikes and gardening. “We don’t stay in the house much,” Mark noted.

“I’m a morning person, so I’ll be getting up,” he predicted. “I am going to work. I think a man’s got to have a purpose.”

The Blackfords

Nancy and Larry got a jump on end-of-the-school-year retirees. She left her job as an account specialist at Henry Clay High School last August. He then retired in November from Southern Elementary, where he taught physical education.

“We were both ready. He had 27 years in, and I had years with the city before I came to the schools. We decided it would be good if we could retire together,” Nancy explained. “I was thinking about working another couple of years. But for my birthday (last June), he said I could retire along with him.”

Nancy joined FCPS in 1988 as a remediation tutor at Picadome Elementary; she later returned to office work at Beaumont Middle and then Henry Clay. Larry also taught P.E. at Ashland and Yates elementaries and coached basketball at Henry Clay.

“We both looked at it as a ministry. We love kids and we love people, so we could make their lives better. That’s what we were all about,” Nancy said.

In retirement, the Blackfords have hardly slowed down. “We stay so active, we don’t get bored. We’ve got so much to do,” she said.

For instance, from August to November, Nancy was busy at home with painting and redecorating projects. “It gave me time to get some stuff done before Larry retired or had any input,” she said, laughing.

The Chapmans

Mona and Les have tallied nearly 65 years between them, teaching in Louisiana and Kentucky.

“We understood what each other was going through, so that helped,” noted Mona, who did stints at Bryan Station High and Linlee Elementary.

She retired in December from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, where she taught health and P.E. for the past eight years. Les is wrapping up the school year at Martin Luther King Jr. Academy, where he taught middle school science.

“We’ve just been doing it long enough,” Mona said with some relief.

This semester, she did sub one day for a friend at Dunbar, but mostly she has done things around the house that she’d been meaning to get around to.

“I’m still satisfied, but that doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way,” she said, leaving the door open for new opportunities and adventures in this next phase of life.  



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