Forty-eight years ago, a mutual friend set up a blind date between Mary Coleman and Mike Tabor in San Angelo. Mary was just a high school senior and Mike was a college senior home for Christmas, but Mike’s mom had been Mary’s beloved first grade teacher, and the friend was certain the two would hit it off.
Hit it off they did, and the couple dated a while until Mike, an SMU football standout and recent signee for the Los Angeles Rams, headed back to Dallas. But Mary couldn’t envision a long distance romance, so she mailed him a letter wishing him well. Mike ended up not playing for the Rams, but SMU Head Coach Hayden Frye kept him on as a student assistant coach for the Mustangs, which helped him pay for law school.
Mary headed off to Missouri’s Lindenwood University, but when she transferred to SMU as a sophomore, she met a young man at a mixer and gave him her name.
“Ahh, you wrote the ‘Dear John’ letter,” he recalled. He had been Mike’s roommate.
The friend hot-footed it back to report to Mike, and it wasn’t long before Mike came calling.
“I guess he thought I was hotter the second time around,” jokes Mary today.
Sparks flew and the romance resumed. “It’s nice to fall in love with someone you already like,” she says.
Mike asked for Mary’s hand when she was a junior, but there was a glitch.
“I was set to be a counselor at Camp Waldemar that summer.” Wedding bells would have to wait.
“We got married my senior year between semesters,” says Mary, “and back then, the moms did everything. We just showed up and everything was planned out for us.”
After the wedding the Tabors moved to Dallas, and both threw themselves into community life. Though his law practice was time-consuming, Mike ran for and was elected to the Richardson ISD school board in 1994. Mary student-taught at Richardson High before going to work in the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD. She left teaching to start a family and was active in PTA, Lake Highlands Women’s League and a host of other community groups and charitable causes.
These days, Mike and Mary are most likely to be found on the sidelines of Lake Highlands sporting venues watching their grandkids. Son, David, and daughter-in-law, Jenny, are raising their children in White Rock Valley. The Tabors also make frequent visits to Tennessee to visit the family of their daughter, Elizabeth, an elementary school principal.
“Mike tells good stories,” says Mary. “He’s kind, and he loves people.”
The admiration is mutual.
“I really got lucky when I got Mary.”
Mary says she tries hard not to give advice to her grown children, but she shared these pearls of wisdom with me.
“Make memories while you can, and be true to each other.”