Love stories start in a variety of different ways. You hear couples say that they met at college, or they were set up by friends. There are arranged marriages, church romances, high school sweethearts and, in more recent years, plenty of online introductions.
There is even a small percentage of the population who met at work. But I’m fairly sure that there are an even more select few who can say they met at JCPenney.
But Chip and Delia Mobley did.
“It all began when I was shopping at the JCPenney store in Statesboro and noticed a very attractive young woman who was manager of the shoe department,” Chip said. “I didn’t really need shoes but I bought some anyway, and the rest is history!”
Chip, originally from Glennville, had attended college in Atlanta and graduate school in Missouri and then came back to Southeast Georgia to teach physics at Georgia Southern.
Delia grew up in Bulloch County and attended Georgia Southern. When they met, she had taken a leave from college and was working at JCPenney during that time. She returned to college and after graduation, began her teaching career at Southeast Bulloch High School and later Nevils Elementary School.
“People often commented that Delia was beautiful on the outside and inside,” said Chip. “I took that to mean that she had a good heart and was friendly to everybody. I began to realize that everyone loved Delia.”
After their first date, a lunch date to Willie G’s, Delia was sure she wanted to go on a second date and “after that second date, I was not interested in dating anyone else but Chip. He made me feel special.”
Music has always played a large role in their relationship.
Delia said, “Many of my favorites center on music of some sort.” Delia’s love of music was what led her to own and operate Kindermusik in Statesboro for many years. Their engagement also happened with song.
Delia had planned a surprise birthday party for Chip. Despite the best intentions, someone accidently let it slip that there would be a party. But Chip continued to act as if he didn’t suspect a thing.
“I had been planning to propose so I thought this would be a good time. She would have a surprise for me and I would have a surprise for her. I acted surprised when everybody started singing happy birthday,” he said
That turned out to be the real surprise to everyone.
After several people had said a few words, Chip was given the floor. He made some introductory remarks about Delia and the fact that they had become closer over the years. It had been six and a half years since they had started dating following that “fortuitous meeting” at JCPenney.
He then sang some lines he had modified from the popular song “The King and I.”
Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to love you,
Getting to hope you love me.
Haven’t you noticed
Suddenly I’m bright and breezy?
Because of all the beautiful and new
Things I’m learning about you
Day by day.
“Then I said, ‘Delia, I have just one question, will you marry me?’ “Chip said. “Silence fell over the crowd, and my sister dropped her drink.”
His sister, Gail, had told Delia prior to the festivities kickoff that he was a confirmed bachelor and would never marry.
“It may have been true at one time, but then there was Delia,” Chip said.
Delia was indeed surprised. In hindsight, she wishes she had used the opportunity to prank Chip, as he is a practical joker himself.
“I should’ve told him I would think about it, but I was too caught up in the moment, and said yes. The crowd applauded. A few days later we planned a June wedding,” she said.
Delia echoed Chip’s sentiment, saying she feels the song “‘Til There was You” from “The Music Man” perfectly describes the way she feels about Chip being in her life.
The Mobleys got married on June 14, 1997, shortly after Delia began teaching.
Years later, for one of Delia’s birthday parties, Chip wrote new lyrics to an old song and named it, “I Found a Million-Dollar Baby in a JCPenney Store.”
Their relationship has been filled with music and adventures, making trips to various locations over their almost 23-year marriage. They’ve taken several trips from Savannah to the Bahamas on their 48-foot sailboat. The couple, along with four additional friends worked together to manage the trip.
“Each of the six took turns steering while others performed chores or slept,” Chip said. “There was always somebody at the helm, trimming sails, cooking, washing clothes, or repairing broken things. We sailed day and night out of sight of land. A lengthy sailboat trip is a sport requiring physical and mental acuity coupled with problem solving which requires the cooperation and coordination of the crew.”
Being on a trip out in the wide-open ocean seems like a great place to think about life and Chip said that it gave him the opportunity to contemplate how lucky he was to be with Delia. Altogether they took 10 summer trips, each required anywhere between 10 days to three weeks. They’ve also flown to the Bahamas and rented sailboats or drove to South Florida.
These trips are some of the couple’s favorites. Chip said that using teamwork to accomplish a goal also reminds him of their work to build the Open Hearts Community Mission, of which Delia now serves as Executive Director. The mission strives to rehabilitate homeless people from Bulloch County.
“We worked together to raise the money for the building and are proud to say that, because of the generosity of this community, the building is completely paid for. Delia is a great fundraiser. People were delighted to contribute and indeed were very generous because they believed in her and the homeless mission,” he said.
Another song that Chip wrote for Delia was written in jest, “Whatever Delia Wants, Delia Gets.” The couple also worked together to build their home and provided most of the physical labor during the construction phase.
“We took our time and built it like we wanted. The design started on a drawing board in the bedroom of our old house, where I would draw late at night and Delia would make suggestions. We were a good match, because our individual skills came together to complete the design and construction,” he said.
One of Delia’s favorite memories of their relationship is when they went to Emma Kelly’s place in Savannah.
“She called Chip up to sing to me. I had no idea that he could sing. They sang together and he sang a song to me. I was beyond impressed!! At my birthday party, Chip wrote the lyrics to four songs which were sung by Brandi Harvey accompanied by Michael Braz and the band. We have never stopped enjoying music together. It’s an integral part of our lives,” she said.
As with all relationships, Delia and Chip have had some tough times — they’ve been there for each other throughout the loss of Chip’s father and later, his mother, and through the loss of Delia’s father. But they say there haven’t been any more obstacles.
Of course, “problems do occur,” Chip said, “and we solve them together. We brought into this marriage our unique skills and sometimes, depending upon the circumstances, one or the other takes the lead in solving the problem. We have been very blessed.”
The Mobleys have been an on-the-go couple, traveling each year for their anniversary and going out on date nights weekly throughout their relationship, but as with most things, COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into their outings. They’ve put date nights out on hold in an attempt to avoid crowds and restaurants, but they still have date nights — they just look different now.
“We stay home a lot more and enjoy our time together. Sometimes date nights can begin at sunset in the convertible with a pizza! These simple times are the best times. Other nights we will stay at home playing the piano and singing together,” Chip said.
The Mobleys will certainly continue making music for many years to come, and it’s clear that the pair of shoes Chip left with more than 30 years ago wasn’t the only awesome pair to come from the JCPenny shoe department.