Fort Worth Judge Jo Ann Reyes and TXU executive
Jesse Reyes married 3 years after meeting at UTA
by Janell Broyles
A patch of green on the UTA map marks Doug Russell Park,
named for the 1968 Olympic swimming champion. But to Jesús
(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.
marrying and embarking on successful careers, alumni Jo Ann
and Jesse Reyes spent many hours strolling the UTA campus.
We didnt have much money, Jesse
adds. I was working and she was in school. Id drive
over after work and wed 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.
In fact, it was lack of fundsand the promise
of free foodthat 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, Its
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 itd
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 wasnt enough.
There were a lot of long phone calls. I
missed her so much, I finally told her, This isnt working
out. We have to get married. It really wasnt all that
Jo Ann counters with a laugh: I thought it was!
When they married in San Antonio on Jan. 3, 1976, they werent
the only UTA graduates at the weddingor in the family. Jesses
brother, Jaime, and his sister, Alma, were both alumni, too.
Jesse received his masters degree in electrical
engineering from UTA the following year, and Jo Ann earned her law
diploma in 1978. Shortly after their first son, Jesús 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
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 associations
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.
Hes 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, Jesús and Joaquin, now
attending college, the Reyeses are enjoying the empty-nest years.
We might do some more traveling, when were ready to
slow down, Jo Ann says. But that wont be for a