Ben Jackson met Linda McGinity 19 years ago when the two were both attending a fundraising event for The Kentucky Opera Association – just not with each other.
Ben, who at the time was on the board of Frazier Rehab Hospital, was greeted by Linda who was working for Jewish Hospital.
“Linda was a board member greeter at the event, so we walked in, she said “˜hi’ and I didn’t think anything of it,” Ben said., And that was pretty much the beginning and end of their first meeting.
It wasn’t until several years later that the two found themselves reacquainted at a similar scene. But this time the ending was quite different. I sat down with the couple, who love the phrase “life is good,” while they caught me up on the rest of their love story, and it certainly was proof that they are living accordingly.
How did you meet?
“Several years after that initial meeting, and my divorce, I was at another hospital function,” Ben said.
Linda, who had also moved on from a previous marriage, was in charge of marketing and at the event doing interviews for Jewish Hospital.
“I walked out of the room and Linda was right there with a camera crew. She said, “˜Hey, you’re a board member, can I interview you about the event?’ I said “˜No, but I will buy you a glass of wine.’ ”
“It was open bar,” Linda interjected with a grin.
But this is not one of those “the rest is history” kind of stories – at least not yet.
The following weekend Ben had another function to attend and decided he would take his chances and ask Linda. She accepted. But this still does not mark the beginning of the couple’s history.
“I came home from running errands the morning of the event and I had a message on my machine,” Ben said., “It was Linda calling to cancel on our date claiming she was sick.” Still skeptical of the excuse after all these years Ben teased her.
So he decided to ask her out one more time and see if she would hold to their date. This time – she did.
And now the rest is history.
How did he propose?
“We started dating in 1996, and at the time, I was extremely focused on my career,” Linda said. “I had been married before and kids were just not in my plan.
“So there I was dating this man with two kids thinking “˜he’s so nice and cute, what a shame,’ ” Linda said with a laugh.
“And then I met the boys, and everything changed,” she said. “They really did fill this void that I didn’t know was there.”
The phrase “you complete me” took on a whole new meaning for Linda, much to Ben’s relief.
“I had the responsibility that she didn’t with the kids,” Ben said, “so I knew that if I were ever going to marry again, it had to be someone who would love and fully accept my kids. Which she has done immensely.”
With a little help from Ben’s oldest son, the ice was finally broken.
“It was a Saturday morning, and we were all piled in driving to one of the boy’s soccer games, and out of nowhere Jordan said, “˜Dad! Why don’t you just marry Linda?’ ” Ben recalled, still looking pleasantly shocked.
“I looked over at him and said, “˜Well dad?’ and Ben just about wrecked!” Linda said.
A few months later the couple, along with Ben’s two sons, Jordan and Nick, boarded a cruise, which they now lovingly refer to as the “wedding cruise.”
“One night after dinner we were all sitting at the table and Ben leaned over and said, “˜You know, if you can get through all the basketball games, the hectic schedules and everything else that comes with me then I think we have something really special. And then he asked me, “˜Will you marry US?’ ” Linda said.
“The kids were all excited asking “˜What’s going on?’ And I was like “˜I don’t know yet, she hasn’t responded,’ ” Ben said.
“I was crying my eyes out, the kids were all excited and Ben’s just waiting for me to answer,” Linda remembered with a laugh.
“Linda has taken my two boys as if they were her own and supports their every endeavor,” Ben added.
And that love and support goes both ways for Linda and the boys. Just two weeks ago when Linda’s step-dad passed away, Jordan and Nick were right there supporting her as pallbearers at the funeral.
“The boys were 12 and 7 when we were married, so she missed the diapers but has been there for the many ball games, proms, homework and exciting teen years. She’s the love of my life, and truly taken my children as her own.”
Where do you like to go when you’re out “˜n’ about?
“We stay relatively busy with events and organizations we are involved in, but when we do have time to ourselves we love Z’s Fusion and Z’s Oyster Bar & Steakhouse and sometimes we will go up to Hurstbourne Country Club,” Ben said.
“We also like to entertain at home or go to friends’ houses,” Linda added.
How do you make it work on a day-to-day basis?
Tasks may have changed for this energetic couple, who no longer carpool to basketball or soccer games, but don’t think for a second they have slowed down.
Linda immediately agreed, “and Ben, you’re impatient,” she added.
“I am?” Ben asked.
“Well, we both are very proactive and upbeat people,” Linda went on,, “and it’s just not like us to let the grass grow under our feet, – we get involved. Not just with organizations but in each other’s lives.”
Ben, who owns TheJacksonGroup, and Linda who works at Stites & Harbison, are not just busy with their work, but they remain involved in charitable organizations.
“We both have our different charities, and instead of saying that we just won’t do them, we get involved in what the other is doing,” Linda said.
“Every day we come home and debrief,” Ben said. “We talk about each other’s projects, we ask for the other’s opinion. I think the biggest thing is total cooperation.”
“And teamwork,” Linda added, as she finished Ben’s sentence.
“We have a lot of mutual respect for each other’s talents, abilities and personas. This isn’t one of those opposites attract situations,” Ben said, “except I say “˜yes dear’ more than she does.”
“And I pay her,” Ben added with a hearty laugh.
“Well she kicked me out of the laundry room,” Ben said.
“And the kitchen,” Linda added, “I travel though with the law firm, sometimes just overnight or throughout the day, but if something has to be done, I don’t worry about Ben getting it done.”
“Sometimes I’m husband Ben and sometimes she’s wife Linda, and it works,” Ben confirmed.
Is there anything you always do as a couple?
The couple, who have been to Europe many times, like to go on cruises and set their wedding date on a flight home from Chicago. They enjoy traveling and University of Louisville games.
“We love sports and the atmosphere of going to the games,” Linda said. “Sometimes it’s nice to let your frustrations from the day out on cheering for your team.”
What advice would you have to couples who desire to walk together through life in tandem?
“I know it is clichÃ©, but never go to bed mad,” Ben said.
“Partnership,” Linda added.
“Also, don’t take saying the simple words “˜I love you’ for granted,” the couple agreed.
“This is a sure thing. I mean, I just really like him,” Linda added.
Jan. 1, 1998
Two sons, Jordan (25) and Nick (20).
When the busy couple is home, they unwind in quiet Hurstbourne.
Ben and Linda are no stranger to the community and various organizations: Ben served on the Frazier Rehab Hospital board for 19 years, and Linda is co-chair for this year’s Derby Museum Gala.
Ben owns TheJacksonGroup LLC and is also a CPA. Linda spends her days at Stites & Harbison PLLC.
Cats or Cards
A house divided. Both are graduates of the University of Louisville and support the Cards. However, their two boys fell off the beaten path. Jordan graduated from UK where Nick is currently a junior.
“We cheer for UK when they aren’t playing U of L,” the couple said.
Category: In Tandem
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.