Work and play go hand in hand when couples work together

By Rachel Robles, Lifestyles Editor | Feb 14, 2014

In honor of Valentine’s Day, The Mountaineer wanted to know more about couples who work in the same profession. Four Haywood County couples shared their stories of working together — as fire fighters, construction workers, nurses and teachers.

Lloyd and Sarah Messer, of Clyde, are firefighters and EMTs with the Clyde Fire Department. Sarah joined the department in 2003, and Lloyd joined in 2009. Outside of the fire department, Lloyd is a paramedic with MedWest-Haywood and Sarah is a Head Start teacher with Cherokee Tribal Child Care.

“Lloyd took a swiftwater rescue class that my father was teaching,” said Sarah Messer. “After being friends for six months, we started dating, and three years later we were married.”

The Messers have been married for four years and enjoy working together.

“One of the biggest blessings of Lloyd being in the department with me is the fact that I get to serve the citizens of Clyde with my best friend,” said Sarah.

“I love the fact [that] I get to work beside my best friend and soulmate,” said Lloyd Messer. “She can predict what I will do next. Also, I know what she will do. She knows my little quirks.”

Working for an emergency service is stressful enough, but especially so when a loved one shares the responsibility and danger.

“One of the hardest things is [that Lloyd] can also be over-protective,” said Sarah. “I have to remind him that, yes, I am his wife, but I am also a firefighter that has been well trained.”

“I can be over protective of her,” said Lloyd. “I tend to hold her to a higher standard because I know what she is capable of and what she can do.  I would work beside her any day of the week.

Chip and Tiffany Allen, of Soco, both work in the construction field. Tiffany works for the North Carolina Department of Transportation construction unit, and Chip is a carpenter for a homebuilder.

“I wouldn’t call it a blessing,” said Tiffany Allen, “but it is cool that my husband knows what I talk about daily. It is difficult at times because where most women wouldn't know what [their husband] is doing or saying, I'm right there questioning why or how he is doing things!”

“It is annoying at times when she questions how or why I am doing certain things,” said Chip Allen. “Or that she often gives her opinion and construction experience instead of just letting me handle it.”

“At times, I think us being in the same field makes us have more head-butting situations around home than a typical husband and wife in two totally different professions,” said Tiffany. “We disagree on how things are to be done but what marriage doesn't?”

Though Tiffany is capable of tackling her own projects at home, it’s still nice to have a professional carpenter

“Much like many women think of their man as the fixer or go-to guy for things they don't know about, I, in most cases, will state ‘do I need to do this?’ said Tiffany. “Don't get me wrong — I won't tackle all the “man jobs” around the house, and I wouldn't trade my husband for any other husband. When it comes to plumbing, electrical [issues], or killing bugs, he is my Superman.”

Ben and Autumn Willett, of Waynesville, have been married for five years, and have nothing but good things to say about working together.

“We worked the same shift, same department [at Haywood Vocational Opportunities] for three years,” said Autumn Willett. “We rode back and forth to work together, we took our breaks together, we spent our free time together — we were never apart. And we loved it! People would ask us how we did it, but we truly loved spending all our time together.”

When the Willetts decided to change career paths, they took the leap into nursing together.

“We took CNA class together, did our clinicals together, got a job at Maggie Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation working the same days and same hours,” said Autumn. We started pre-nursing at Haywood Community College and had all but one 50-minute class together.”

Research suggests that couples who work apart tend to have a better balance between work and their personal lives. The Willetts haven’t had an issue.

We loved the fact that we were able to literally spend all our time together for so long,” said Autumn. “Marriage isn't just about a partnership and sharing a house; it’s about being friends and having fun together. I'm so lucky to be married to my best friend.”

Jimmy and Joanne Rochester, of Clyde, have been teaching together since the mid-70s when they met and taught at an all-black school in Jackson, Mississippi.

“Although you’re teaching and together at school, you’re in the classroom and don’t see each other often,” said Joanne Rochester. “But we had lunch together. We drove to school together. We drove home together. That saved a lot of money on gas. We’ve been married 41 years this year. We’ve always enjoyed the time we’ve had together when we could. Of those 41 years, we’ve worked together not quite 20.”

The Rochesters moved to Haywood County in 1979 because, as Jimmy said, “Mississippi had no mountains.”

Joanne taught taught history and Jimmy taught Spanish at Pisgah High School.

“I was there about 10 to 12 years. He was there 25 years,” said Joanne. “The kids always called him Senor. I was always Mrs. Senor. I didn’t become Mrs. Rochester until I taught at Bethel [Middle School].”

Being in the same profession helped the Rochesters become better teachers.

“Being in the same profession, teaching many of the same students, we could ask, ‘What works with you with this student?’” said Joanne. “If we saw that one of us wasn’t quite reaching a student, we could work together.”

Being in the same profession has been a blessing to the Rochesters.

“I honestly can’t think of any difficulties,” said Joanne. “It was so positive, so nice. When you’ve had a frustrating day, you can tell your husband about it because he’s a teacher too, and he knows about it, and vice versa.

To all the couples who work together, and to all the couples who don’t, may this Valentine’s Day be filled with love and happiness.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Beth G. Johnson | Feb 14, 2014 11:22

The Rochesters are both great people and great teachers.  May I correct a big mistake in the story - Joanne was the history teacher and Jimmy was "Senor" the Spanish teacher.

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