They do: love at first strike


Editor’s Note: Evanston RoundTable is pleased to introduce: “They Do.” This new column is a glimpse into the love stories and celebrations of commitment from local readers and their relatives. A chance encounter in a supermarket checkout line, the dog park, an ashram, an Uber Eats delivery, a blind date, speed dating, Tinder, Match, Bumble….kids, pets, blended families.

To marry? We want to hear all about your love story and share it with the RoundTable community. This is a free storytelling service by Roundtable. Please contact us if you have a marriage announcement you would like to share and include your name, your partner’s name and an email address. We’ll be in touch to spread the love.


When Crystal Jones first saw James Christopher Starks 14 years ago at the Classic Bowl in Morton Grove, she knew he was something special.

Jones, 59, was born and raised in Evanston and comes from a long line of bowlers. She was a regular at the Classic Bowl, as were Starks, 50, and her parents Jimmy and Frenchie Starks. Although not a bowler, Starks would often accompany his parents to watch and socialize.

Crystal Jones and James Christopher Starks Credit: Subject

“He’s handsome and had dreadlocks at the time. When he smiled, that was it,” Jones said of the couple’s first date.

A first date, though not at a bowling alley, soon followed, and while the couple was not exclusive, they spent a lot of time together.

At the time, Starks was busy raising his daughters, Kayla and Jada Starks, now 21 and 17. Jones has three children, Tramelle Williams, Michelle Thomas and Michael Thomas, and six grandchildren, ages 7 months to 12 years.

Starks and Jones waited a year before introducing their children and Jones’ grandchildren. After that “we were inseparable. I’m still excited to see him,” Jones said.

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