Jimmy and Leslie Chapman share how they have stood the test of time, right here in Osceola County, through hard work, dedication, and a bond that has lasted a lifetime.
On July 21, 1973 17-year old Leslie Coffman and 23-year old Jimmy Chapman started a life together when they said I do. Leslie, whose family had moved down from Pennsylvania 10 years prior, met her future husband at First Christian Church in Kissimmee, where a future love would blossom. “Jimmy’s parents really became very close friends with my parents. After a few years the two families spent a lot of time together at each other’s houses. I would see Jimmy at his house occasionally, but he being older than me and my sisters and brother, he didn’t pay a lot of attention to me. But as I grew older, that did change”.
As her sophomore year approached, they started dating while he was away at the University of Georgia.
It wasn’t until he came home after graduation that things became serious, and they started their plans to be married. ‘We knew we would stay in the general area, because at that time Osceola County was proud of its heritage of the cattle and citrus industries. That is what built the economy, and was the uniqueness of the area.” Although things have grown and changed, Jimmy and Leslie remain in Osceola, the once “Cow Capital of Florida” and have worked to keep that heritage alive.
Love through work and companionship.
When asked what makes their love last; Leslie explained how they formed a unique bond; “we worked together, it allowed us a special bond. We both wanted the ranch to thrive. We were partners in more than just in marriage.” He taught her ride a horse, gather cows, drive a tractor, and about fence building.
They both were raised going to church and attended every week, and still do. “Our belief and faith in God was ever present in our marriage. We believe in commitment and share a great respect for each other.” She explains. “We feel that is something that has helped us work hard on our relationship. It is so vital to raise children within the church with values apart from the troubled world we live in.”
Their children have been wonderful blessings in their many years of happy marriage. Seven years after they were married, their lives changed in the sweetest of ways. Their first child, and only daughter, RyAnne Rousch, was born. Their family grew over the next five years adding three sons, Denton, Gibbs, and Clifton. Being parents deepened their relationship as they really felt as a team with a goal to raise respectful and successful young adults.
The family unit was strong as the kids were involved with working in the business. “We are now enjoying watching our kids raise their families and us being involved in the lives of the next generation. We are so blessed to see RyAnne and Brandon, Denton and Michelle, Gibbs and Tiffany, and Clifton and Ashleigh being involved in not only the business but in the church, and all the many youth activities.” This chapter in their lives is trying to attend as many sports, school events, or any other activities the grandchildren might be in, as they were once involved in their kids and their friend’s lives and youth activities when they were young. “We are proud that our kids now are as dedicated to their kids and their activities.” Leslie and Jimmy have truly formed a family legacy.