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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Love story: Jeff, Cathy Reyburn’s marriage built on stable foundation

By Cindy Hval For The Spokesman-Review

In 1967 at Cerritos College in Southern California, Cathy Bryan and Jeff Reyburn met in a psychology class.

He’d just completed three years at the Citadel on a football scholarship, and she was preparing to enter nursing school.

“I think Cathy kind of eyeballed me,” recalled Jeff.

In their North Spokane living room, Cathy laughed.

“I did not! You were sitting behind me!”

Suffice it to say they started chatting before class, and soon Jeff, 21, asked Cathy, 20, on a date.

“Our first date was April 15, 1967,” he said. “I took her to the Ash Grove club in LA. We saw blues singer John Hammond, which she hated. Bluegrass singers Clarence and Roland White also played. She didn’t like them either.”

He paused and glanced across the room.

“But she liked me. I got a second date. Believe it or not, there was a period in my life where I had a hard time getting a second date.”

That second date turned into many more. Cathy found the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood more to her liking and they enjoyed hearing a Linda Ronstadt and a young Janis Ian play there.

“We had a lot of fun together,” she said.

Jeff graduated from California State Long Beach in 1969 and got a job coaching and teaching at St. Anthony High School, while Cathy continued nursing school.

“I was in a three-year residential hospital program in Los Angeles and I wanted it to finish it before I got married,” she said.

After a sorority sister’s wedding in 1970, Jeff proposed and gave her a ring. They married on Nov. 20, 1971.

“There wasn’t a honeymoon,” said Jeff. “We got married on Saturday and went back to work on Monday.”

Eventually, they more than made up for that missed honeymoon. More on that later.

Cathy worked at California Hospital in LA, and Jeff had moved on to Fountain Valley High School, part of the Huntington Beach Union High School District.

The couple settled in Long Beach and welcomed their son, Zachary, in 1975, followed by Erich in 1978.

Cathy juggled nursing and raising sons as Jeff continued his coaching career, including five years at his alma mater, Cal State Long Beach.

“She was a great football wife because she didn’t breathe football,” he said. “She was supportive, but had her own interests.”

His wife smiled.

“I actually enjoy watching it more now, than I did when he was coaching.”

In 1986, the couple decided to make a change and moved to Spokane.

“Jeff had a cousin up here,” Cathy said.

She got a job at Holy Family Hospital and Jeff was hired by Lewis and Clark High School. He worked there for three years, then moved to Rogers High School where he coached for six years before returning to LC. He also did a one-year stint at Eastern Washington University with head football coach Dick Zornes.

“I made a lot of great memories,” Jeff said. “But the highlight was when LC won the state championship in 2007. We weren’t even GSL champs that year.”

In 2010, Cathy retired from her 41-year nursing career.

“Nursing was very rewarding, but it had changed a lot,” she said.

Jeff ended his 41-year teaching/coaching career later that year. Both had always loved to travel and reveled in the freedom of retirement.

“We’ve been to Europe eight times since we retired, and every European capital,” said Jeff. “We love history, art and architecture.”

Initially leery of cruises due to seasickness, Jeff got his feet wet with a St. Lawrence Seaway cruise to Boston. Once he found his sea legs, they embarked on numerous transatlantic voyages.

They’ve more than made up for that missing honeymoon and have a difficult time pinning down their favorite trip.

“Every place we went was all new to us – it was an adventure,” said Cathy. “We met great people we still keep in touch with.”

They’ve also enjoyed extensive domestic travels.

“In the last 25 years, we’ve been to every wine region in the country, including stops in Texas and Rhode Island,” said Jeff.

When asked how the wine was in Texas, he shook his head.

“Not good.”

They also play golf.

“She’s a good golfer. I’m not,” he said.

While COVID-19 curtailed their travel itinerary, since 2010, they’ve had a snowbird destination in Lake Havasu, Arizona. But with one son in Spokane and one in the Portland area, and four grandchildren, they’re never out of the area for long.

As they talked about their 50-year union, neither glossed over the realities of a long-term relationship.

“Let’s just say I had some rough edges,” Jeff, 75, said.

Cathy, 74, was matter-of-fact.

“It can be hard living with one person day in and day out, but you deal with the ups and downs.”

Jeff nodded.

“You learn to recognize each other’s moods and give each other space.”

Cathy said what she most appreciates about Jeff is his caring nature.

“He has a good heart.”

Her husband sighed.

“You didn’t say anything about my sex appeal!”

She laughed. “Oh, gosh! I forgot!”

As their laugher ebbed, Jeff grew serious.

“I didn’t have a lot of stability growing up, but Cathy is stable. She kept me out of a lot of trouble,” he said. “I think I’m a better person having been married to her all these years.”

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