When Ricky Lynn first saw her husband, Ronell Crossley, she only remembered his shoes. This Wyoming boy had taken his home fashion of cowboy boots and a big belt buckle with him to
college in Utah — and to an institute kickoff activity. “He was kind of looking my way. And I thought, ‘I don’t want to marry a cowboy,’ because it was back when it wasn’t cool,” she says.
This Provo girl then labeled the cowboy-boots guy in her institute class as the student who was always coming in late. They ended up at the same dance at BYU. He asked her to dance and they got talking. He asked her out, she said yes, and they started dating.
Ricky Lynn talked with her dad and shared her caution about the new relationship.
“I said, ‘I like him, but he’s so different than I am.’ My dad said, ‘Look past the boots!’ So I looked past the boots. He’s still a western boy, but I love every part of him.”
Three months after their first dance, Ronell asked Ricky Lynn to marry him. And three months later they exited the Provo Temple as husband and wife. (Then he bought his new bride a pair of her first cowgirl boots.)
On their wedding day, Ricky Lynn says it was special experience having all of their living grandparents attend to love and support their brand new marriage. Also on that day, the Provo Temple president advised Ronell and Ricky Lynn to write notes to each other.
“She writes them on napkins and puts them in my lunch,” Ronell says. Then he writes her a thank you note for making her lunch. Forty years of handwritten notes fill two large, cherished boxes.
Life has given them plenty to write about. Their first child, Devan, was born with craniosynostosis, which means his skull was fused together. The doctors removed the front of his skull, which was the best treatment at the time. Devan required constant care and supervision, which was exhausting for young parents.
“One night, the baby cried and cried and I thought I was going to lose my mind. And I cried and cried, so Ronell took the baby and I went to sleep,” she says. “When I finally woke up, he had gone to work, and he had pinned this little note on the baby. It said, ‘I’m just a little guy. Love me tender.’”
To this new mother, heartbroken over the trial her young family had to endure, the note was a reminder to stay patient and focus on loving her baby. The story still brings tears to her eyes.
By the time he turned 1, Devan’s skull grew back and he was considered a healthy baby. The Crossleys’ family grew to include three daughters. Now their children are all grown and have children of their own — 15 grandchildren to be exact.
Every couple weeks the Crossleys host a “Taco Sunday” where they invite their children and grandchildren to their American Fork home and eat tacos, laugh and taco’bout family history stories. Everyone takes turns finding and telling new stories of their ancestors.
“It helps us connect with the past,” Ricky Lynn says. “My dad used to tell me a story about his grandma, who is my great grandma. She would take him out and look at the stars at night and sing him this little song about the stars. And I thought, ‘Maybe that’s why I love the stars!’ I take my little grandkids out at night and we look at the stars together, too.”
While stories help them connect with the past, quality time helps the Crossleys connect in the present. They love taking trips together, both near (including day trips to Promontory Point and Antelope Island) and far (last year they went on a self-directed church history tour to the eastern United States and this year they plan to visit the Redwoods).
“It’s fun to do things with other couples, but really and truly it’s so important to just spend time together so we can talk,” Ricky Lynn says.
Their relationship grew from a footwear first impression to a life-long love.
“The first thing she saw of me was just my cowboy boots, but now she likes country music,” Ronell says with a grin.