by Kimberly Rubio, assistant editor
Both key figures in local government, city manager Vince DiPiazza and county treasurer Joni Deorsam have not only been successful in their careers but also in marriages to their respective spouses.
DiPiazza and wife, Suzanne, an administrative assistant for the Uvalde County Extension office, recently celebrated 37 years of marriage.
Deorsam has been married to Rodney Deorsam, a gunsmith at Oasis Outback, for 43 years.
The DiPiazzas met in 1980 at a church retreat in Snyder when they were both freshman at Texas Tech University.
“I was active in the music ministry at the university parish and brought my viola to the retreat to help with the music. It was the instrument that got her attention and caused her to remember this otherwise shy, nondescript, nerdy guy,” Vince said. “We ran into each other a few months later at a church-sponsored student dance. She will claim that she asked me to dance three times before I asked her. We began dating after that.”
After dating for a year, the couple became engaged.
As to how he knew Suzanne was the woman he wanted to marry, Vince said, “I don’t think anyone really knows if the other person is the one. How can you really, especially when you’re young? All I did know was that I was in love and wanted to be with her. We decided to get married as students and made the commitment.”
“I knew that I wanted him in my life. To say we complete each other is too cliché. I loved being around him. He is funny, smart and a great cook,” Suzanne said. “He makes me smile.”
Vince said that because they were students in college, they held a small wedding in Lubbock so their college friends wouldn’t have to travel. The were married on Nov. 21, 1981.
“The wedding ceremony was mostly traditional, but modest, with some elements from the Mexican tradition. Suzanne played the larger role in planning the ceremony. She left me in charge of the music and the liquid refreshments for the reception. After 37 years of marriage, that’s still about all I’m in charge of at home – the music and liquid refreshments,” Vince said.
“We had two priests perform the ceremony. We wanted to make sure it took,” Suzanne said jokingly.
They have three sons, three daughters-in-law, four grandsons and one granddaughter. Their youngest son and his wife and children moved to Uvalde last spring.
The couple enjoys watching the Texas Tech Red Raiders play, cooking, attending concerts, and traveling.
“Camping, hiking, that sort of thing. We haven’t done that lately as much as we would like, especially since my health took a turn in the last year and a half. Also, going to plays, concerts, etc. with wining and dining either before or after. We both read a lot, but almost never the same books,” Vince said.
“I personally enjoy watching him tinker around the house,” Suzanne said.
Vince and Suzanne say the key to a happy and successful marriage is communication, along with staying strong during rough patches.
“Communication, either verbal or non verbal. Saying ‘I love you’ can be heard and felt. When we hold hands, Vince knows how much I love him and want to grow old with him. But, in case he forgets, I tell him,” Suzanne said.
“A relationship is a process, not a thing. The dynamic changes over time as you and your partner grow and develop. Some elements that were important early on may become less so over time, and some that were less important in the beginning become more so later,” Vince said. “Don’t give up too quickly during the rough patches – remember, there was something special that brought you together in the first place. And to the guys especially, learn to curb your ego.”
The Deorsams were introduced to each other in the fall of 1973 by Joni’s mother, who was an acquaintance of Rodney and his mother.
“When we were introduced I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, he is cute.’ He was such a gentleman and soft spoken. I immediately knew in my heart he was my soulmate,” Joni said, noting their first date was an unsuccessful hunting trip.
“He was so kind. He decided to take me deer hunting, and he tried to kindly caution me about hairspray and perfume, bless his heart. Between that issue and my starched jeans… needless to say, this was not a successful hunt.”
Despite their differences, the couple fell in love. They married on Aug. 2, 1975.
When asked about his proposal, Deorsam admitted the question was popped in a less than romantic setting – his vehicle.
“I felt fairly confident I knew the answer,” Rodney said. “We had just come back from a date. I pulled up in front of her house, we were still in a vehicle so not the most romantic situation, but it worked.”
Less than a year later, the couple married at the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Knippa.
“I had enjoyed attending Sunday school with him at his home church and wanted to be married there,” Joni noted.
In their 43 years of marriage, the couple raised three children, Justin, Jillian and Jeremy.
“They have blessed us with three more wonderful children as they have each married their soulmates, Justin and Megan, Jillian and Mase and Jeremy and Sarah,” Joni said, as she gushed about her granddaughter, Aubree, daughter of Sarah and Jeremy Deorsam.
“This is a special year for us as we await the arrival of two more precious grandchildren. Our story has had its ups and downs as many things in life, but at the center of a successful marriage is God, love and respect for each other and forgiveness.”
“You know, I have been extremely blessed. I picked a woman that is very tolerant and you know, it is kind of corny but don’t go to bed mad at each other,” Rodney offered as advice for younger couples.
“Our pastor gave us the best advice. He said the best you can hope for is a 60/40 relationship. You give 60 percent and at best you can get back 40 percent. If you both have that attitude you tend to come out better.”
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