An injury from a pickup basketball game sent Bob Owens to the hospital for surgery, but he got more than just a repaired knee
Bob found his mate.
Her name was Kim, and they had a lot in common right from the start. For starters, they shared the same last name — Owens.
In February 1981, Bob went to what's now the Nebraska Medical Center for knee surgery he'd been putting off.
Kim was a nurse on a floor that saw a lot of football players from the University of Nebraska at Omaha who needed orthopedic surgery. She heard about a new patient who was coming in and figured he would be another jock. But when she saw Bob, she knew that with his goatee and glasses he wasn't a football player.
Turned out he was a 25-year-old Omaha native who worked in child protective services for the state.
She was assigned as his nurse and discovered he loved to joke and tease. He'd tell her that he needed help using the bathroom, even though he didn't. She'd tell him to forget it.
Bob and his hospital roommate razzed Kim by putting on their nurse call light every half hour, just so Bob had more chances to see her.
After his first night in the hospital, Bob told his roommate he was going to marry that pretty young nurse someday.
Bob asked Kim out twice during his four-day hospital stay. She thought he was cute and funny but told him she didn't date patients.
So a few days after he was discharged, he called the hospital and left a message for Kim to call him. But she didn't.
Soon after that he took a basket of candy and a stuffed animal to her floor. The basket included his phone number and a poem he wrote: “I like you a bunch and want to take you to lunch.”
Finally, Kim gave him a call. He asked her out for lunch, but before giving an answer, Kim pulled a joke on Bob.
She told him she had a “3-month-old.” Bob told her that's not a problem, and she could bring the baby along for lunch. Then Kim told him her 3-month-old had four legs and was her new puppy.
They ate at a Mexican restaurant for their first date, and soon became a couple.
Right at the start of their relationship, they figured out that even though they had the same last name, they were not related.
They got engaged that May and married Nov. 28, 1981, at St. James Catholic Church in Omaha.
For Kim, there have been benefits to having the same last name as her husband. For example, she didn't have to change the name on her driver's license. But when she goes to high school reunions, her former classmates think she never married or is divorced.
Bob and Kim have four children and two grandchildren and next month will celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary.
He still works for child protective services, and she's still a nurse at the Medical Center.
Bob says it's hard to say exactly why he knew Kim was the right one for him.
“There was just a spark,'' he said.