Jerry Stover was born December 3, 1971, in Abbeville, Mississippi. When he was a senior in high school, he started dating junior Irene Morrison. Her November 24 birthday made her almost exactly a year younger than him.
Soon after Irene's high school graduation, she and Jerry married and settled in Abbeville.
Jerry's high school job at the local sporting goos store revealed his knack for retail sales, and he continued there full-time when he graduated. When Walmart came to Oxford, the store's owner decided to retire and close the business. He gave Jerry plenty of warning, so Jerry was able to get a new job at Walmart.
His conscientious attitude, plus his sales ability and experience, soon caught management's attention, and he was offered a place in their management trainee program. He rapidly worked his way into a secure position in Merchandising.
Irene worked in a grocery store near Abbeville after graduation until Andrea came along. She remained a stay-at-home mother until Andrea was out of high school. When Andrea graduated, Irene worked as a supermarket cashier, where she enjoyed the contact with customers and the extra money.
Jerry doted on Andrea from the day she was born, and his life and interests revolved around her. When Andrea was old enough to audition for school and community productions, he happily went along. When Andrea and her mother were involved in long rehearsals or performances, he often prepared dinner for all of them.
Irene was not a stereotypical "stage mother." She never pushed her daughter to accomplish what she dreamed of for her. She wanted to see Andrea successful and happy with her own choices.
Jerry and Irene were delighted when Andrea decided to attend the University of Mississippi and live at home. They hoped their continued influence would quell Andrea's wild streak that emerged in her teens.
When Andrea took a job with Oxtales after college, Irene and Jerry soon learned that the theatrical group's reputation for staging outlandish, controversial productions that often included strong sexual content was well deserved. Each of the shows Andrea was involved in seemed to cause more strife in the community than the last.
Their worst fears were realized when Oxtales staged "Snopes." Community awareness groups, who had never been fans of Oxtales productions, began vigorously demonstrating against the theatrical company, especially targeting Andrea and her family.
Jerry and Irene's privacy was invaded, and their property vandalized. While they presented a united, supportive face to the world, privately they found the embarrassment difficult to endure. Then when Andrea was arrested and prosecuted, they were miserable.
Jerry begged Andrea to accept the plea deal she was offered, but she refused. She welcomed the attention, saying a trial would call attention to the "government's attempt to stifle freedom of expression." Jerry and Irene were frustrated and disappointed, but they kept it to themselves.
When Andrea was sent to jail, Jerry couldn't bring himself to visit her at first. He couldn't cope with the thought of his precious little girl behind bars. At the same time, he couldn't understand the person she had become and found it impossible to reconcile the two.
Irene began visiting Andrea as soon as she was permitted and went at least once a week during the entire incarceration. She finally convinced Jerry that Andrea was still the daughter he had always loved, even though he disagreed with her actions. By the time Andrea was released, they had reconciled, and he welcomed her back home.
However, they all discovered that it wasn't easy for a 29-year-old independent woman to live with her parents. Andrea's lifestyle involved late-night rehearsals and associating, again, with people her parents didn't approve of. All this, coupled with Andrea's reinstatement as artistic director of Oxtales, strained their relationship.
Jerry and Irene's hope that Andrea would seek a less controversial position or even leave the Oxford area was not to be. Instead, Andrea plunged into staging a new production, "The Trees," which apparently would be as controversial as "Snopes" had been.
The community organizations and individuals that had so violently opposed "Snopes" began even more zealous campaigns to shut down the production, Oxtales Theatre, and Andrea herself. The resumption of these strident protests centering on their daughter renewed Jerry and Irene's distress over the way Andrea was living her life and how it was affecting theirs.