Professing love

Valentine’s Day has just passed, but love is still in the air. The Record compiled some stories of how professors met and married their spouses. Some of the stories are almost up to “The Notebook” level of romance, so tissues are advised but not required.

For those of you looking to step up your game after Valentine’s Day, there are gems to be found in these stories. And for those of you just not feeling the love, maybe at least one of these stories will soften your heart.

Theon Hill, assistant professor of communication

How did you meet?

We met in high school when her family moved back to the U.S. from Canada where they were missionaries, and we ended up attending the same church.

How did you know she was the one?

I knew she was the one because while we were dating, I got really upset at someone and let’s just say that my language was less than Christian. She called me out for using language that was inappropriate for a Christian to use. At that point, I knew that she was the one because she loved Jesus more than she loved me.

How did you propose?

It was June 28, 2013. I lied to my future wife and told her that I wasn’t in a position to afford an engagement ring but I had won a romance contest which we could use to take a dream date. But I assured her that I wasn’t going to propose. Here is how the date went: 1) We took a limo to downtown Chicago to The Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building and ate a wonderful dinner there. 2) After dinner, I had a “spontaneous idea” and asked her if she would like to take a carriage ride. Little did she know that the carriage ride had been arranged. We actually took the ride in the same carriage that Oprah used for the last episode of her talk show in Chicago. The carriage drove us away from the Hancock building and over to the gazebo directly across from the Drake Hotel. In the gazebo, I dropped some pretty romantic lines, if I do say so myself! She started crying, etc., and I asked her if I could spend the rest of my life learning what it meant to love her with all my heart, soul and might. Sadly, she was so taken back that I had to remind her to say yes … if that is what she intended to do. All the while, I had family members in the bushes taking video and pictures of the event. We got back in the carriage and there were a dozen roses waiting for her, thanks to the carriage ride company. We rode around the city at night with the lights up. I suppose this quote would best express my feelings toward her: “Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
— Nicole Krauss, “The History of Love

Jerry Root, associate professor and director of the Wheaton Evangelism Initiative and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism

Jerry Root, associate professor and director of the Wheaton Evangelism Initiative and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and his wife Claudia have been together for 40 years. Photo courtesy Jerry Root
Jerry Root, associate professor and director of the Wheaton Evangelism Initiative and the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, and his wife Claudia have been together for 40 years.
Photo courtesy Jerry Root

How did you meet?

I’m a professor so I will give you a multiple answer quiz as to how Claudia, my wife of 40 years, (and I) met:

  1. We met at a Bible study.
  2. We met on my couch in my living room.
  3. We met at a mortuary.
  4. All of the above

The answer is number four. I was just starting seminary. Claudia transferred in from Hope College in Michigan to Whittier College in California, where I earned my BA. I was working part time at the mortuary and lived upstairs. I was fortunate for this opportunity; most people were dying to get into that place.

We hosted a Bible study for Whittier students. Claudia heard about the study and came. When I first saw her she was sitting on my couch, in my living room, in a mortuary, for a Bible study. It is a fun story!

How did you know she was the one?

I think I hoped she might be the one even before I asked her out. But I would say that I started falling in love a few months into our going out regularly.

How did you propose?

You must remember, back in the olden days proposals were not the grand schemes as they are today. I fasted and prayed for several days before I asked her. A few days after I broke the fast, she invited me to dinner for my birthday. She called my mom and found out my favorite dish, beef stroganoff over rice, and made that for me that night. My mom was a good cook, but Claudia made it even better. That was the night I got on my knees and asked her to marry me! She loved Jesus deeply. (She) was serving as a volunteer at her church ministering to others, she is beautiful and she could cook; I was hooked. Of course the fact that she was horribly near-sighted was to my advantage. The darkest day of our marriage was when she got Lasik surgery. We were married 13 months after I proposed. That was 40 years ago, and it seems like it was yesterday.

Kim Sasser, assistant professor of English

"The engagement was not some elaborate, romantic affair — and that’s really not Chad anyway — but it was sweet and memorable. It makes me laugh every time I think about it," said assistant professor of English Kim Sasser. Photo courtesy of Kim Sasser
“The engagement was not some elaborate, romantic affair — and that’s really not Chad anyway — but it was sweet and memorable. It makes me laugh every time I think about it,” said assistant professor of English Kim Sasser.
Photo courtesy of Kim Sasser

How did you meet?

My husband and I met at a church in Dallas. My sister knew Chad, and she started trying to play matchmaker from day one. I guess it worked!

How did you know he was the one?

Gosh, this is a hard question! We really fell for each other quickly, and as we were dating I remember getting to a place where I just knew that I wanted us to do life together, as a team. I didn’t want to live my life apart from him. Marriage seemed like a no-brainer for me, like the natural next step.

How did he propose?

This was kind of funny. Neither one of us knew he was going to propose when he did. We had driven to Galveston, Texas, to look at possible rings. Galveston has great estate and antique jewelry. I found what I wanted at the first store, and Chad just popped down on his knee and asked me right there in front of the sales clerk. I didn’t realize this was impromptu on his part. I found out years later. In the moment, he was thinking that if I knew he had the ring he couldn’t surprise me. He thought my discovering the ring and the proposal had to go hand in hand. It was the first time I’ve ever seen his face get red! The engagement was not some elaborate, romantic affair — and that’s really not Chad anyway — but it was sweet and memorable. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.

Stephen Lovett, associate professor of mathematics, married to Carla Lovett, visiting assistant professor of history

Stephen Lovett, associate professor of mathematics, and Carla Lovett, visiting assistant professor of history, began their story together "under a tree." Photo courtesy of Stephen Lovett
Stephen Lovett, associate professor of mathematics, and Carla Lovett, visiting
assistant professor of history, began their story together “under a tree.”
Photo courtesy of Stephen Lovett

How did you meet?

I grew up in a suburb of Paris, France, while my wife grew up on a farm in Maine. That we ever met has something to do with sensitive dependence on initial conditions or God’s excellent story weaving skills. Carla likes to begin this story by saying that we met under a tree. In 1994, a summer internship with the Department of Defense took me to Maryland. Before going, through various networks of family and friends, I had gathered a few contacts for where to attend church during the summer. The first contact never got back to me, whereas the second family immediately invited me over to a father’s day picnic. Carla, who had recently graduated and worked for a computer networking firm at the time, happened to live with that family. Perhaps as a joke or perhaps to set us up, the family dispatched Carla to come pick me up. When she did, she found me waiting for her under a tree.

During that summer, we got together every weekend for church events or just to hang out. We realized after a while that we got along very well. However, Facebook would not exist for another decade and email was still cutting edge, so returning to college to finish my senior year loomed like an ‘adieu’ and not an ‘au revoir.’ Happily, phones did exist and we started dating long distance. The times we got together during the first year were short but very sweet.

How did you know she was the one?

No single Damascus road experience told me that she was “the one.” Love makes us do crazy things, so when I graduated, I moved to Maryland not for work or graduate school but to see if we would still get along if we lived in the same county. Friends told us we had that marriage luster written all over us, but we only knew that it was hard to imagine life with anyone else.

How did you propose?

I knew her parents preferred the classic traditions so, during a visit to her family — out by the cow barn — I asked her father for his permission to marry her. He made me sweat for a day but gave his blessing. This remained a secret to Carla for another two months because I still had to save up for a ring. Finally, in early December 1995, after a Steve Green concert, I took Carla to picturesque Occoquan, Virginia. We found a gazebo and chatted in the chill air. Nervous, I asked a question and got on one knee. I think I asked the right question and I think she said yes, because she accepted the ring.

Ken Chase, department chair and associate professor of communication

How did you meet?

Linda and I met in our home church, Whittier Hills Baptist Church (in) Whittier, CA. Linda and I didn’t begin dating, though, until our paths crossed at California State University, Fullerton. We would see each other between classes and began doing lunches. My best friend also was living with Linda’s family as an adopted son, so I would visit him a lot at their house, which provided more opportunities for me to hang out with Linda.

How did you know she was the one?

I don’t believe there is a “one.” Or, perhaps I should say, I don’t believe looking for “the one” is a helpful concept for finding a life partner! I knew that I wanted to marry Linda when I realized the following: I would be miserable if I wasn’t actively part of her daily life. Thus, I could not live with the idea that this extraordinary person would have thoughts and experiences each day that I would never know if I did not marry her. Marriage, for me, was Linda agreeing to let me be with her every day for as long as we both shall live. The idea of “wanting to be with her every day” involves lots of various factors. Most importantly, she was fully committed to Jesus and I knew that a relationship with her would encourage me in serving him. But I knew lots of other people who were committed to Christ — and I dated some of them — so why Linda? She lived faith in a way that I found highly attractive. Plus, she really liked me, which if absent would’ve been a deal-breaker for our long-term relationship. The proposal was simple.

How did you propose?

We sat on a bench at CSU Fullerton, and I read her a letter I had composed. Neither of us are big on major productions, so we didn’t do the “sky-diving while the church choir sings ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness’ and Ken produces a ring when the chutes open” type of event. Although, in retrospect, I probably should have added a bit more of an event-quality to it. But I was a Ph.D. student and overanalyzing every communicative act, so I was going for simplicity and sincerity rather than hype — at least, that’s what I was telling myself at the time. Regardless, she accepted with enthusiasm.

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