How We Met: A Missed Connection
Leads to Lasting Love
All great couples are “meant to be,” but few seem as perfectly suited as Hal and Judy Higby. This long-time Wilton power duo are evenly matched in intellect and interests, and both are passionate about social causes. Add a healthy zest for life, along with a wicked sense of humor and it’s easy to understand why they’re a good fit.
However, the couple’s path to happily-ever-after had an inauspicious beginning. In 1969 Hal, a former medic attached to the 101st Airborne Division, had recently returned to college after serving in Vietnam. His Hamilton College roommate, Eric, set Hal up on a blind date with Judy, a senior at Briarcliff College. Just before the date, while working at his part-time night job loading stacks of the Buffalo Courier Express into honor boxes around the city, Hal smashed up one of his fingers.
He tried to ignore the injury, but by the following morning his finger had swelled to cartoon-size proportions, and he had no choice but to head to the hospital where he was bandaged up and given liberal amounts of Darvon with codeine for the pain. By the time Hal boarded a flight to New York for his blind date, he’d been awake for 36 hours and the plane wasn’t the only thing flying high.
“He was definitely a little loopy,” Judy says with a smile. “It was a pleasant enough evening, but I didn’t think he was the man of my dreams,” she continues. “But he was empathetic and kind. I had to be back at my dorm for an 11 PM curfew. When we got there, some Princeton boys were dropping off their dates and being a little obnoxious.” Hal was mistaken for one of the troublemakers and got hustled away by security. In the confusion, he was parted from Judy without obtaining a crucial piece of information.
“When I woke up in Buffalo the next morning I remembered that I’d had a good time but I couldn’t remember Judy’s last name,” recalls Hal. “It was Easter weekend and I wasn’t able to reach Eric, so I called the college switchboard operator and threw myself on her mercy. ‘“I’m not supposed to do this,”’ she said, ‘“but does Judy Foster ring a bell?”’ I said, ‘“That’s it!”’ and she connected me to Judy Foster’s dorm. But when Judy Foster got on the line she had no idea who I was.”
Hal called the switchboard operator back. Would Judith Fulton be the Judy he was looking for? Yes! But when he phoned and was told Judy had gone home for Easter, Hal assumed she was blowing him off. To his relief, Judy returned his call after the Easter break and invited him to a Blood, Sweat & Tears concert. They’ve been making sweet music ever since.
In the summer of 1970, Hal decided he wanted to marry Judy, and went full-out Frank Capra when asking for her hand. “Her father was sitting on the patio sorting through mail,” Hal remembers. “I made polite conversation for a bit, then said, ‘“Mr. Fulton I’d like to marry your daughter.”’ There was a pause and then her father replied, “Which one?”
Once the selection was made clear and consent given, Judy recalls that nothing more was said that evening. “Not a word about the engagement was mentioned during dinner. The next morning I found my mother in the kitchen and asked if she knew, and she said, ‘“Oh yes, he’s very nice.”’ And that was it!”
The couple married in 1971 and the reception was held in the backyard of the Fulton family home in Bernardsville, NJ. Entertainment consisted of a lone accordionist. “It was the ’70s,” quips Judy, “We asked for macramé, pewter, and wooden wedding gifts.”
After their marriage Judy worked designing computer circuits for an electronics company and also as a secretary. Then came the arrival of three children: Jonathan (1975), Devon (1977), and Annie (1982). In the early ’80s the young family relocated from New Jersey to Wilton for almost a decade.
The Higbys then moved to Chicago in 1990 for Hal’s work in the media business and in 2000 they happily returned to Wilton. Once again they made their presence felt in the community. Over the years, the couple have donated their time to many organizations, including the Community Nursery School, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Wilton Library Board, Wilton Playshop, YMCA, Visiting Nurses, Wilton Commons Board, the PTA, League of Women Voters, Wilton Board of Education, and Wilton Historical Society.
Ask the Higbys their secret to a long and happy marriage and Judy replies, “Respect, listening, and we make each other laugh.” Hal smiles and says, “I know who’s in charge.”
THAT ’70s WEDDING The couple asked for macramé, pewter, and wooden wedding gifts and the wedding reception was held in the Fulton family backyard.