Couples across campus


Jim and Ann Lile

Love is not just a feeling, love is also a choice.

“We have chosen to live our lives together,” said Dr. Jim Lile, chair of Southern’s theatre department, about his relationship with wife Ann Lile, who is also on the theatre faculty here.

“I married you for the entertainment value,” she said in return. “If you stop entertaining me, you’re out the door.”

The love story of the two theatre instructors began in 1980. They were both working on their master’s degrees at East Texas State University (now Texas A&M University-Commerce), and there they built a strong friendship over a year’s time.

During the summer, they starred opposite each other as husband and wife in one play and mother and son in another.

“We fell in love fighting. The act we did together was 45 minutes of arguing,” said Ann.

They have been married now for 31 years and still laugh at each other, look into each other’s eyes, and finish each other’s sentences. They are right on cue with one another.

The Liles spend most of their free time on campus at Missouri Southern. They are involved in various committees and are constantly in rehearsal with the plays Missouri Southern puts on. Within the community, they are coaches for the directing staff at the Joplin Little Theatre and are involved with their church. They have also contributed to the Heartland Opera Theatre, Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre and Stained Glass Theatre. If and when they have alone time together, they enjoy going out to see shows.

“We are very fortunate that we have theater in common. We do what we love and we love what we do,” said Jim.

Theatre life is busy, and through the years, the Liles have been able to keep their relationship strong with trust and knowing the choice they made. They chose one another. They choose to work through kinks and never argue.

From their first show together, Plaza Suite, they have the original publicity shot of Jim Lile standing over his wife-to-be yelling and pointing. They matted it, wrote on it, saying, “We will never do this,” and signed it.

That photo is still hanging in their house today.

For those couples who work together: “Keep the work at work, and keep the home at home.”