EL DORADO – More than 50 years ago, Cathy and Harold Beedles noticed each other from across the room as they sat at a marriage and family relations course at Butler County Junior College. Although they both acknowledge the chemistry was there from the beginning, it was several years before they admitted it – to themselves and to each other. This spring, they celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and they hold Butler responsible for their union.
Cathy, who grew up in El Dorado, always knew she wanted to attend college and become a teacher. She went directly to Butler after graduating from El Dorado High School. Harold went straight from Eureka High School to work for an electrician. But after being out at work all night during a storm, Harold realized he wanted to do something else. He wanted to change his path.
“I went into my bosses’ office and quit. I told him I was going to go to college,” Harold said. “He said he’d pay for the first semester. He had not gotten a college education. He said, ‘If someone wants one, I’m going to help them.’”
With cash in hand, Harold headed to Butler to enroll. Two days later, not knowing what he wanted to study, he started classes.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to major in. I just knew I wanted to go,” Harold said. Eventually, Harold finished at Butler and headed to Wichita State University, obtaining a degree in Physical Education with a math minor.
Always determined and the youngest of seven children, Cathy followed the plan she had set in high school. After graduating from Butler, she went on to Kansas State Teachers College (now Emporia State University) and received an education degree.
Although the couple knew each other at Butler, they only exchanged pleasantries between classes. After they left Butler, the two drifted apart. Friends and family tried to get them together. Eventually, Cathy and Harold planned to go on a double date – but not with each other.
“She came down from Emporia to set me up with her friend,” Harold said. But when Harold saw Cathy at the Butler football game with her date he didn’t want to get set up. He wanted to be with her. That night Harold made a plan.
Harold decided to take Cathy out to Wichita to “plan” their double date. But soon they realized the inevitable – what friends and family had told them for years – they were meant for each other.
Now living in Rose Hill, the couple still loves purple. Their fondest college memories come from Butler. Although in different cars, the two remember driving in 1964 throughout Butler County in a caravan holding up signs to support the school. They even sent two of their four children to the college.
“We still tell kids if you don’t know what you’re going to do, go to Butler,” Harold said. “I tell kids to take a step back and prioritize their lives and go to Butler.”
In addition to a great education, the Beedles say, you might just meet your mate there. This spring, the Beedles are excited to celebrate Butler’s 90th anniversary as well as their own 50th.