Eugenia Niehaus had graduated from the University of Texas El Paso and was teaching in Dallas, Texas. Tommy had graduated from Tulane University in Engineering, joined the Navy and was stationed in Long Beach, California. Tommy’s best friend, Jimmy Roddy, decided to get Tommy a date with Eugenia, who was visiting friends in Long Beach. They didn’t really care for each other that much on that date. They met again when Eugenia’s sister Virginia married Jimmy Roddy and decided to keep in touch.
Eugenia was getting ready to accept a teaching position in Europe when Tommy decided not to let her go, and asked her to marry him. Eugenia planned everything – the dress, flowers and reception – and she even made the hats for the 12 bridesmaids. (Note: Eugenia had previously been in 12 weddings.)
They were married June 8, 1963, at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in El Paso, Texas, with a reception at La Fonda for about 200 friends and family. The rehearsal dinner was held in a restaurant in Juarez (as had been the bachelor party) that was already decorated with pinatas and Mexican flowers. This was a wise choice, because they knew that everyone would end up there after dinner.
Everyone in the town thought that they were celebrities, and even had a bullfight named in their honor. After the wedding they returned to New Orleans, where Tommy attended law school and Eugenia continued teaching. Their European honeymoon happened later that summer with a little help from Bush LeBourgeois.