When Lois Esterson Walker ’53 sat behind a student named Wilbur in her English class, she sensed she was gaining something from that class that a professor couldn’t possibly offer.
“I went back to my room and told the girls, ‘I met the man of my dreams today,’” Lois recalled. “He was nice-looking, he was sweet, and he was very talented.”
Today, Lois affectionately refers to that man as Will, her husband of 55 years. They are one example of many students who made their acquaintance on TCNJ’s campus and graduated into the institution of marriage. Although the College is perhaps best known for its great education and cumulative learning experience, add matchmaker to the list. Whether it occurs in an English classroom, astronomy club meeting, or basketball game, Cupid has launched many arrows that have struck the heart of a Lion.
The first date for Will and Lois was the All-College Review, where fraternities and sororities joined forces to put on a musical show. Will, an industrial arts major, worked the lights, and Lois was performing. They were pinned their junior year and married shortly after graduation. Will built a house in Ewing Township, where they lived for 55 years. He was an industrial arts teacher in the Pennsbury school district and also served on the Alumni Board at TCNJ for 37 years. Lois worked in the Lawrence school district for 33 years, teaching third and fourth grade before becoming the school librarian. The two currently reside in Fairfax, VA.
Times changed on campus, as male and female students not only share more class time but dormitories as well. Matthew Kim ’05 and Katie Goodhart ’05 both resided in Travers Hall their freshman year and began college with the same major: computer science. Cupid needed to adjust the sights on his bow when it came to Matt and Katie, because he kept firing arrows that missed. The two spent ample time together and developed a strong friendship, one that Matt wished to take to new heights. Katie, however, was playing the traditional role of hard-to-get.
“I wanted to date her our freshman year, but, I guess she didn’t really want to date me,” Matt chuckled. “She wanted to keep it as friends, but we finally started dating our senior year.”
Once he and Katie became a serious couple, talks of marriage were imminent. Matt began plotting the perfect proposal. Knowing how much Katie loved TCNJ, he decided to return to campus to create a fond memory. Matt purchased three bricks in the Alumni Grove. The first brick read: “Katie and Matt met and fell in love at TCNJ …” The second brick read: “Matt proposed right here …” The third brick read: “Katie, will you marry me?”
“She was stunned,” Matt recalled. “Actually, after reading the first brick, she said, ‘Hey that could be us.’ But by the time she got to the second and third brick, she realized I was proposing and said ‘Oh my God!’ for about five minutes.”
Fortunately for Matt, Cupid’s arrow was on the money, and Katie accepted his proposal. The two will be married in July of this year.
Sometimes it takes blind instinct for the romance bug to bite at TCNJ. For Howard ’77, MA ’80 and Edith (Hartmann) Dumhart ’77 it happened 10 years after graduating, and still required an event at TCNJ for the campus to work its magic. Both attended their 10-year reunion that was held at The Rat (then known as The Pub) in May 1987. While Howard was reluctant to go, he didn’t hesitate to strike up a conversation once he caught a glimpse of Edye.
“He just walked up to me and started talking,” Edye said. “My first impression of him was that he was definitely outgoing and very courageous. Howard is very charming and I was trying to ignore that to play it safe. But as I got to know him, it became clear how many great attributes he possessed as a person.”
Her success in ignoring Howard’s charm was short-lived. They were engaged later that fall and married in January, just eight months after the reunion. The couple has remained active in alumni events, organizing and hosting several holiday parties that served as a fundraiser for the Bill Klepper Scholarship fund.
“Personally, I think reunions provide great opportunities to interact with friends from over the years and a great way to stay connected to the TCNJ community,” Howard explained. “I know sometimes people are hesitant to attend those functions, but if I didn’t go to that 10-year reunion, I wouldn’t be celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary this January.”
Admissions standards, college rankings, and graduation rates are positive talking points about TCNJ that are quantifiable facts. What can’t be quantified is the enormous role TCNJ has in playing host to budding relationships and romances that have lasted a lifetime.
As Lois Esterson Walker eloquently stated when asked if her college experience turned out to be what she had hoped: “Oh yes. And more … much, much more.”