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Reunited in Love

by Jennifer Post Stoudt

Renewing Wedding Vows

With tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats, they stood hand-in-hand, smiling as they repeated the vows that have kept them together for so many years.

A little older, a little wiser and even more in love, 14 Albright couples celebrating more than 550 years of marriage, came back to campus to renew their wedding vows during Albright’s first multi-faith wedding vow renewal ceremony. Chaplain Cathie Kelsey officiated.

There were bouquets for the brides, boutonnières for the grooms, a three-tier wedding cake and a champagne toast. Neil ’51 and Dorothy Holl ’49 Hill’s now grown-up flower girl, Betty Ann Short Sorowice, now 55, was even in attendance.

“Betty Ann was only about four when we were married,” says Neil. “We didn’t know she was coming (to the renewal ceremony). It was a total surprise to us. We were ecstatic!”

Having special people with them as they renewed their vows was also a special part of the ceremony for Barry ’64 and Mary Thompson ’66 Kercher. “The first time around,” Mary says, “my in-laws weren’t able to come. My sister couldn’t come. My sister-in-law had just had twins so she couldn’t come. It was really special having them there this time.”

All of the couples agreed that having the ceremony on Albright’s campus was what meant the most to them since that is where they first met and fell in love.

Heartfelt words in a heartMarried 56 years, Gerald ’44 and Geraldine Bowker ’44 Heilman first met during freshmen year in the fall of 1940. “Her roommate was a girl I knew from high school,” says Gerald, “and we both took sociology majors so we were in a lot of classes together.” However, says Geraldine, “We really were just friends first.”

They played Chinese checkers. They took walks in the park. And finally, at the end of senior year, their friendship grew into love.

Friendship and a love of dogs was what brought Jeffrey ’77 and Jennifer Meals ’76 Kalajian together. “We both had dogs on campus,” says Jennifer. “We met taking them out to play. Our friendship developed first, but I knew right away that we were destined to be together.”

Love blossomed for Norm ’52 and Nancy Neatock ’53 Dettra right from the start. In the fall of 1949, the couple met at a square dance held in the Student Union Building (SUB). Nancy remembers fondly, “Norm was on one side of the floor and I was on the other. He came toward me…oh, he was good looking…and asked me to dance.” Their four-year romance was ignited, leading to an engagement in 1952. “In those days you had to ask the father first,” Nancy says. “So Norm gave me the ring and told me I couldn’t wear it until he asked my father. Every so often my mother and I would look at it in the jewelry box until he got up the nerve to ask.” A week later, he did, she says.

Albright faculty even got in on match making from time to time.

“We met through Annadora Shirk,” says Nicole Donnay Yoder ’59. “She put us together in speech class.” However, it seems Professor Shirk may have had a feeling about the pair. Dale ’57 recalls, “She said that one day she might regret it because it might mean she’ll have to give us a wedding gift.”

Shirk was right. The Yoders, who wed right after graduation from Albright, have been married for 45 years.

Heartfelt words in a heartAnd it wasn’t the first time love blossomed in one of Professor Shirk’s classes either. Virginia Marick Britton ’54 says she and husband William ’54 met in one of her English classes as well. “He was dating a friend of mine and I was interested in someone else, but the PAT’s had a dance and I didn’t have a date, so I asked him. And that’s how it started.”

Todd ’89 and Patricia Minicucci ’91 Jarosz, celebrating nine years of marriage, met while moving into Crowell Hall. Or was it while walking back from The Caf? Although the two couldn’t agree on the location where they first locked eyes, Todd and Patricia did agree that the Albright campus has a special meaning in their lives.

“We got engaged in the Gazebo,” says Patricia. “He told me we were coming to Reading to visit friends and suggested we swing by the College. So we went to the Gazebo where we had our first kiss and he popped the question.”

Although the couple recently moved to Seattle, Wash., Todd says they were happy to renew their vows at the College before they made the trek across country. “We’d even come back from the West Coast to do this again for our 15th,” he says.

“Having the ceremony at Albright was more meaningful than having it at the church where we live now,” says Virginia Marick Britton, who was married in Drexel Hill, Pa. but currently resides in Farmington Hills, Mich. Sarah Davenport Yatron ’50 agrees. “It was actually more significant than the first one because we knew what was coming and we’ve been through so much together in our lives.”

Mary Thompson Kercher was so moved she could hardly even say the vows. “After being married this long you really know what they mean. I’ve had a serious illness the last two years and he (Barry) has been right there with me. The ceremony was very touching.”

In fact, says Joyce Dieckmann Ward ’78, “It reminded me a lot of our original wedding. It was almost like doing it for the first time again.”

So What is the Secret to a Long and Happy Marriage?

“God – We use him in our lives everyday.”
Charles ’42 and Jeane Miesse

“Give each other space.”
Gerald Heilman ’44

“Stick with it.”
Geraldine Bowker Heilman ’44

“Be good friends first.”
Jennifer Meals Kalajian ’76

“Be kind to one another and put God at the center.”
Virginia Marick Britton ’54

“Never go to bed mad.”
William Britton ’54

“Stand by the commitment you make before God.”
Mary Thompson Kercher ’66

“Don’t let anything simmer. Always talk to your partner.”
Stratton ’50 and Sarah Davenport Yatron ’50

“Be willing to work things out.”
Joyce Dieckmann Ward ’78

“Mutual understanding.”
Neil Hill ’51

“You’ve got to look at life with a sense of humor.”
Dorothy Holl Hill ’49

“Be committed.”
Nancy Neatock Dettra ’53

“If I knew the secret I’d bottle it and sell it!”
Norm Dettra ’52

Photo Album

Wedding Vow Renewals

Robert ’72 and Susan Goetz ’73 Cristadoro
make their way down the aisle.

Wedding Vow Renewals

Patricia Minicucci Jarosz ’91
helps husband Todd ’89 with his boutonniere.

Wedding Vow Renewals

Stratton ’50 and Sarah Davenport
Yatron ’50 leave the Chapel smiling.

Wedding Vow Renewals

Jeffrey Kalajian ’77 gets someassistance
from wife Jennifer Meals Kalajian ’76.

Wedding Vow Renewals

Charles ’42 and Jeane Miesse,
married 54 years, cut the first piece
of the cake.

Wedding Vow Renewals

Virginia Marick Britton ’54
and William Britton ’54
came all the way from Michigan
to renew their vows at Albright.

The fraktur artwork used in this piece was designed exclusively for Albright College by Jacquelyn Trone.

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