Fort Worth Judge Jo Ann Reyes and TXU executive Jesse Reyes married 3 years after meeting at UTA
UTA Magazine Online, Spring/Summer 2001
by Janell Broyles
A patch of green on the UTA map marks Doug Russell Park, named for the 1968 Olympic swimming champion. But to Jesus (Jesse) and Jo Ann Reyes, it will always be Tranquility Park, the place where they spent endless hours during their courtship as UTA students.
“We used to walk there at night and sit on the swings and merry-go-round talking,” Jo Ann recalls. “We talked all the time. Our relationship was about communication. We shared our dreams, our hopes and our fears and really got to know each other.”
“We didn’t have much money,” Jesse adds. “I was working and she was in school. I’d drive over after work and we’d walk all around campus. If we had a falling out, we would always find our way down to Tranquility Park to talk and make up.â€
In fact, it was lack of funds–and the promise of free food–that got them together in the first place.
Jo Ann remembers. “In the spring of 1973, I was a sophomore in Lipscomb Hall, and they asked if anyone would volunteer to show community college students around campus. They said, “It’s a free meal,” and I said, “OK!”
Jesse had the same motivation. “I was a senior and was asked by my dean to help out because several of the community college kids were Hispanic students. I said sure, why not, since it’d be a free meal.”
At the reception, Jo Ann saw Jesse and remembered him from a photograph as the brother of her suitemate, Alma Reyes. She introduced herself. Wavering about whether to take his group to a ball game or Six Flags, Jesse instantly made up his mind when he discovered that the pretty young sophomore was going to the amusement park. They spent the rest of the day together.
Over the next two years, their relationship grew as they pursued their degrees. Jesse received his bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1973 and got a job in Fort Worth at Texas Electric Service Co., now part of TXU Electric & Gas. In 1975, Jo Ann graduated with a bachelor of arts in history and went off to law school at the University of Houston. Soon, Jesse knew that a long-distance romance just wasn’t enough.
“There were a lot of long phone calls. I missed her so much, I finally told her, “This isn’t working out. We have to get married.” It really wasn’t all that romantic.”
Jo Ann counters with a laugh: “I thought it was!”
When they married in San Antonio on Jan. 3, 1976, they weren’t the only UTA graduates at the wedding–or in the family. Jesse’s brother, Jaime, and his sister, Alma, were both alumni, too.
Jesse received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from UTA the following year, and Jo Ann earned her law diploma in 1978. Shortly after their first son, Jesus III, was born, the family moved from Houston to Arlington. Jesse returned to work for Texas Electric Service Co., and Jo Ann went into private practice.
Both also remained active in their church, community and with their alma mater. Jo Ann served on the Alumni Association board of directors from 1991 to 1995, and Jesse served as the association’s academic director for the College of Engineering from 1995 to 1997.
In 1997, Jo Ann was appointed a Municipal Court judge for the city of Fort Worth. Jesse, meanwhile, completed his M.B.A. in 1999 and is overseeing a software project necessary for TXU to participate in the new deregulated electric power market. He’s considering going back for a doctorate and even teaching. “Everybody tells me I have the tendency to teach anyway,” he says with a grin.
With their sons, Jesus and Joaquin, now attending college, the Reyeses are enjoying the empty-nest years. “We might do some more traveling, when we’re ready to slow down,” Jo Ann says. “But that won’t be for a while yet.”