The Roanoker - November/December 2017 - 106
BFF | THE REAL THING
VW shop before he entered Virginia Tech as a junior to
They have a large circle of old friends and they still
party like it's 1999. And they're still best friends.
(left) and Tammy
Hale: "We have
never had a cross
word, an argument
and Simon Nolen:
"... there is nothing I
do that I want to do
without him ..."
TAMMY HALE (58)
& CATHY JENNINGS (59)
These two met in church, where Tammy's dad was a new
minister, and have rarely been far from their religious
underpinning or their friendship, which began in 1969.
Tammy met her husband at church and they now all
attend the same church. Tammy says, "We lucked out
in the 'good guy' category."
This "best" friendship has not exactly been a roller
coaster ride: "We have never had a cross word, an argument or disagreement," says Tammy, a retired health
educator and former child care director at Carilion, and
now content director (editor) of South Roanoke Living
magazine. Cathy is a cardiac nurse specialist at Roanoke
Memorial, but together they have worked weddings,
using their unique skills.
Tammy has been married 34 years, Cathy 31.
On the day they met, as children, Tammy "was the
new kid and Cathy was the nicest person I'd ever met.
She was the friend who could immediately say, 'You have
something green between your teeth.'" It was a "natural gravitation," says Tammy. "We had common interests: music, books" and they took part in myriad church
youth activities from the beginning. They joined a musical group and even cut a record (with 30 other kids and
a band). They were "together every day, night, weekend,
summer," says Cathy.
106 | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
Cathy went off to school at Radford College (now
University) and Tammy headed to Indiana to Anderson
College (also a university now). But the distance did
nothing to the friendship.
They have both nurtured other friendships over the
years, but the difference, says Cathy, "is longevity. ... We
call each other 'forever friends.' It's about the longevity.
It is simply a unique situation."
It is a secure feeling, says Cathy. "We always have
each other's backs."
STEPHANIE MARTIN (38)
& SIMON NOLEN (41)
A lot of married couples proudly announce that they are
"best friends" because it sounds right to be that and be
married at the same time. Stephanie Martin and Simon
Nolen were best friends before they were married and the
marriage has only deepened the friendship commitment.
They met when she was at William Byrd High and he
was at Community High School in downtown Roanoke
where she is now a counselor/teacher and he teaches.
They've been married for two years and split two children each from earlier marriages. They worked closely
at Community High School, which has 65 students and
14 faculty members-many of whom have a variety of
She had been divorced for a while when they met
and he was going through one. She helped. "I cooked
for him, brought him leftovers, invited him over. We
became friends. It's how we became more than just work
colleagues. It was sort of, 'Let me help you.'"
They wound up with similar child custody arrange-