We asked, you answered: PAW readers share tales of campus romance

My classmate and good friend Gordon Taft ’50 had a blind date with a freshman at Vassar in November of our senior year. Upon his return, he described his date to a bunch of us … “gorgeous, statuesque, smile that lights up a room, extremely bright, Southern accent you could cut with a knife.”

I said, “I’m in love with her, I’m going to her marry her.”

Three and a half years later, I did. Betty (B.J.) and I have been married for 62-plus years. Sadly, our good friend Gordon died in his early 40s.

— Steve Zimmerman ’50


“PAW is soliciting stories about finding love at Princeton.”

“Just write ‘pinball.’ ”

“Pinball? That’s not how I remember it.”

Then again, I don’t actually remember meeting David Smith ’82. He was just — there. One of the group. Hanging around Princeton Inn College, throwing Frisbees in the courtyard at Wilson, eating at Quad with my friends. And then I was at his room for a “Rendezvous with Oblivion” party after finals in January of senior year … and then we were in my room … and then we were at Theater Intime for long days and nights during intersession, working on Godspell.

My roommates were astonished when they came back from vacation and found out what was going on. January of senior year is a ridiculous time to start a relationship. He had a thesis to write (crack healing in quartz), I had a thesis to write (Jungian archetypes and Eugene O’Neill), and we both wanted to go to grad school. College was almost over. I had given up looking for a boyfriend. I was busy and happy. We tried to talk ourselves out of it, and that didn’t work, so we figured it was a fling. We’d have a good time for a few months and then part ways. We danced at Quad and Colonial, met at night halfway between my carrel in Firestone and his lab in Guyot, and celebrated my acceptance to med school and his to grad school — 3,000 miles apart. We introduced our parents at graduation and still insisted we weren’t serious. David bought me a rose to carry at graduation — and six months later we were engaged. We’ve been married 30 years. I guess it wasn’t just a college fling.

— Jenni Levy ’82


Casey and I met at a war-game-simulation-thing that the Woodrow Wilson School hosted in December 2013. He was a cadet at West Point and I was a junior looking forward to winter formals that night. I made a bold move as part of team Saudi Arabia, and it caught his eye. He struck up a conversation, and we’ve been dating ever since.

Our entire relationship has been long distance, initially West Point, N.Y., to Princeton, now Baltimore to Fort Benning, Ga. Never would I have imagined that going to a WWS workshop on a Saturday morning in December would have introduced me to the love of my life — definitely worth waking up at 7 a.m. for.

Dating with the Army has been hard, but being with Casey has been the most amazing experience of my life. I currently work at an ed-tech startup in Baltimore (Allovue) through a Venture for America Fellowship. Casey commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation. He just recently graduated Ranger School and started the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course in December.

— Emilie Lima Burke ’15 


After several unsuccessful matchmaking attempts by my headmistress at Chapin and other mutual friends, Mark Hines ’94 and I met during our first week at Princeton at a gathering for students of color. I approached fellow New Yorker Stan Trybulski ’94 to apologize for my earlier “New-York-style brevity” in the Rocky dining hall, and he introduced me to his new good buddy Mark, who also claimed that he had said hello during dinner and that I had gone out of my way to ignore him. Two questions later we realized that we were the intended match our friends had been trying to make. Two months later we were a couple. After years of being known as “MarkandAlicia” (one word), we made it official and got married by our chaplain, Rev. William Gipson, on the Saturday morning before the P-rade in 1995. We celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this past May with our good friends under the Reunions tent.

— Alicia Headlam Hines ’95


Kate and James Stanford, both ’98, with their children

We met the second day of freshman year, in a freshman seminar about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. We were not at all romantically interested in each other. Fast forward through four years of overlapping social worlds and friends. He asked me out on a date (to hear a friend’s creative writing thesis reading, no less) a few weeks before graduation. It’s now been 17 years together, including 11 years of marriage and three kids!

— Kate Stanford ’98


It was late summer in 1996 and the University of Pennsylvania sticker was already on the back of my car back home in Kentucky. The Penn facebook contained my mug shot, and I was already admitted into a small freshman seminar with Penn’s president. I was ready to join Penn’s Class of 2000. But then Dean of Admissions Fred Hargadon called me in July, saying someone from Princeton’s Class of 2000 suddenly dropped out to do a six-year medical program at Michigan. Would I want his spot? Why, yes I did. He said I was nowhere near the top of the waitlist, but he liked my handwritten letters pleading for admission after getting deferred and then waitlisted.

Ian Shapira ’00 and Caroline Turner ’00 on their first date — dinner at the cafeteria and a Princeton basketball game. The flowers, Sharpira says, were a prop borrowed from Turner’s roommate.

Caroline Turner ’00 and I met our freshman year in an intro French class, but we really didn’t travel in the same or overlapping circles. She was a lacrosse recruit from Long Island, super smart in economics and Shakespeare. I was from Kentucky, and spent most of my time at The Daily Princetonian. But our sophomore years, we got assigned to the same Civil War precept, and became fast friends. (She liked the fact I winged it on pop-quizzes; I liked that she loved Bruce Springsteen songs, college basketball, and old movies.)

We dated on and off through college, but after graduation, we drifted apart. She worked on Wall Street, while I lived in Washington, D.C., roaming the Virginia suburbs as a Washington Post staff writer. But after Reunions one year, we decided to give it another shot. In 2006, six years after we graduated, I took her to Prospect Gardens and gave her a copy of Le Petit Prince — because we never did forget our French — with my wedding proposal inscribed in the opening pages. She opened it up, and said yes, and we kissed on the same exact bench where we had our first kiss as undergraduates.

— Ian Shapira ’00


Kimberlee D’Ardenne *08 and Sam McClure

We first met in the basement of Green Hall. We were sitting in on a brainstorming session with professors from Princeton and Cambridge who were discussing the future of neuroimaging. I noticed Sam McClure during introductions. I thought since he was a postdoc and I was a second-year grad student, he was way out of my league. But I smiled at him during lunch anyway. He returned my smile with a nod. He admits he noticed me during introductions too but claims we truly met a few days later, in the D-Bar.

I went to the D-Bar on that sticky July night because the oven in my annex was broken and ruined my pizza. I wanted air conditioning and some bar food for dinner. Sam was there with members of Jonathan Cohen’s lab; they were saying farewell to a postdoc. Sam and I chatted the night away and have been together ever since.

Working in the psychology department didn’t stop Sam from spending enough time with my chemistry department friends to be able to genuinely laugh at all the jokes at Frickmas. In my third year, we married at Prospect House surrounded by family and Princeton friends. Our first child was born at the hospital on Witherspoon Street during my fourth year, and our son’s first visitors were chemistry department friends and members of the Cohen lab.

Graduating was bittersweet. Princeton isn’t just a place where I earned my Ph.D.: It’s also where I went from being just me to finding my family.

Kimberlee D’Ardenne *08


Victoria Baum Bjorklund ’73 and Hank Bjorklund ’72 (Photo by Jane Leifer ’73)

My husband, Hank Bjorklund ’72, and I met in September 1971. The romantic setting was Blair Arch at sunset listening to the Tigerlilies. When we decided after five months to marry, we went to Nassau Hall to tell Dean Sullivan, who threw his arms in the air and said, “I knew this would happen but not so soon!” During a snowstorm on Feb. 19, 1972, we were married in the Chapel by the Episcopal chaplain, the Rev. John Snow. I was 19 years old.

We have had a wonderfully happy marriage and look forward to celebrating our 44th anniversary on Feb. 19, 2016. Is ours the first Princeton undergrad-Princeton undergrad marriage after the beginning of coeducation?

— Victoria Baum Bjorklund ’73


As freshmen, Randy and I lived across the courtyard from each other in Holder Hall. We met as members of the sailing team, but I thought he was loud and bossy. However, my roommate, Nana Pavsek ’75, knew him from biology class. One day while perusing the Freshman Herald, she said he was really nice. Not long after, I was returning on my bike from a canceled sailing team practice and saw him headed the other way. I took a deep breath and said, “No practice today.” We biked back to Holder where I offered him some iced tea, not knowing that he was, and is, obsessed with iced tea. That was October 1971. We will be married 40 years in December. We still sail together, and he still drinks iced tea.

— Lorraine Longino Barba ’75


“Killer and Killer” was the nickname coined for us by our friend Mark Vargo ’85. We met at the library — not Firestone, but the sports library in Dillon Gym. Gail Shuttleworth ’86 was captain of the Princeton rifle team and I was a black belt with the Princeton tang soo do karate team. We started dating after a winter break we both spent on campus. One night we spent dancing on the windowsill at Tower Club with music blasting in the empty living room. We later heard that people walking on Prospect Street thought there was a big party and no space on the dance floor, but it was a party of two. We dated for eight years as we lived and worked around the globe, but a carefully planned proposal and ring in a fortune cookie made it permanent. We have three amazing children, who have an interesting and varied mix of our traits, but are most definitely their own people. We are both on second, radically different careers. Gail moved from management consultant to custom rifle maker, and I went from being an investment banker to running an environmental education center. Now that the children are away at college, perhaps it is time for some more dancing on the windowsills.

— Jeff Rosalsky ’85


Cindy Casazza Assini ’04 and Andrew Assini ’03 at the Community Day football game in 2001

In 2001, a study break at Wilson College about AmeriCorps changed my life. After listening to Andrew Assini ’03’s enthusiasm about volunteering at the Clay Street Learning Center, I decided to volunteer there. A few walks home together led us to take students to a Community Day football game. Then I emailed him about watching the Leonid meteor shower on the golf course “just as friends.” Ha! While we were dating and teaching at the same middle school, we went to the Camden Aquarium with my parents (who were anxious to have us engaged). At the penguin exhibit, we heard how a male penguin gives a rock or stick to a female when they mate for life. I asked Andrew when I was going to get my rock or stick, to which he replied, “You are getting a stick, it’s a lot cheaper than a rock.”

Later that year, Andrew sliced his finger when we were 12 miles and a beast of a hike from the nearest road at Havasu Falls. I whittled him a stick to splint it because we had trouble stopping the bleeding. When he proposed on the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2007, he wore a penguin hat and gave me the splint stick, upon which he had written “eternal love and friends.” Between gasps of breath from either the altitude or the surprise, I accepted. We took another few years trying to figure out a wedding that could match the awesome engagement Andrew planned, and ended up putting the wedding together quickly in 2010 as my dad battled stage IV cancer. My dad got his wish of walking me down the aisle, and has recovered to serve as our adviser about homeownership.

— Cindy Casazza Assini ’04


Stephen Reynolds ’80 and Julia Reynolds ’82 in the spring of 1979, outside of Joline Hall

My husband and I met in my freshman (his junior) year. As he tells it, he saw a flyer I’d put up during freshman week as I campaigned for student government. He told a friend, “I’m going to marry that girl.”

He didn’t let me in on that idea, but I had to wonder why I was always bumping into him: in Dillon gym, down at the track, in Econ 102, at parties. Not until a Valentine’s dance, when he cut in on my date, did we become a couple. Married 32 years now, we feel so lucky to have shared this experience. We treasure “going back” together, reuniting with college friends, marching in P-rades, and enjoying a common love of Princeton.

— Julia Reynolds ’82


Emily Gass ’12, left, and Maggie Daly ’12

I knew it was love forever when five of our closest friends sat on the couch while we debuted our ballet rendition of Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever.” Neither of us had a background in dance, let alone any foundational knowledge of ballet. It didn’t matter to our friends and it didn’t matter to us. Every second of that 3:50 seemingly choreographed duet was all the confirmation I needed to know that I found something special and absolutely necessary to my very being in Maggie Daly ’12.

— Emily Gass ’12


Our story was best captured in The New York Times a few years ago:

Starting on Campus, and Never Straying

— John Hedeman ’72 and Anne D Hedeman ’74

An excerpt:

NYT: You had an unusual first meeting.

Anne D: It was the end of the first week of school and I’d decided to go to see The Triangle Club perform, but I was too vain to wear my glasses and didn’t have contacts yet. I don’t have a good sense of direction; the buildings kind of formed this big z-shape and I just headed in the wrong direction, then I went back in the other direction looking for this archway. John was walking back from work and saw me, bumping up against walls; he went up to his room, changed and showered and came back down to offer me help find my way. ...


We met right away freshman year. We both lived in Wilson College and were in the same precept for Comparative Literature 101. I knew he was the one when he brought me an apple back from the Street after I had declined his offer to join him so I could finish a biology lab. We dated all the way through Princeton, got engaged on the back steps of Tower Club at our second reunion, and just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary as a family of four with our two kids!

— Jane Hyatt Thorpe ’95 and Michael Sramek ’95


My wife’s freshman-year roommate was one of the seven or eight people on my OA backpacking trip. When we got back to campus, I met her at breakfast with her roommate. It took a couple of years to get her to out with me. We went to houseparties at Campus Club as sophomores. Because sophomores weren’t invited to the first (formal) night, we went on a double date with my brother and his girlfriend, who were ahead of us in school and also both at Campus Club. Some say you either end up hating your houseparties date or you marry them. I kissed her on the steps by the Woodrow Wilson School fountain that night. She found out I was pretty good at science and suggested I go to medical school, which she was doing. We went to Vanderbilt together and got married a year later. We have two kids and have been married for 20 years now and live and practice medicine in Albuquerque. As a side note, her brother met his wife at Princeton, as did my brother and his wife. I’m a fan of the MR degree. All three boys married up.

— Richard Todd ’94


Janet Lee ’06 and I met during my sophomore and her freshman year at Princeton. We actually both lived in the same entryway in Holder, but we didn’t formally meet until our time in the Princeton University Orchestra. She was a violist and I was a violinist. We never technically played together that fall season because I was the concerto competition winner and thus didn’t practice in the rehearsals for the larger ensemble. She thought I was being a irresponsible tardy person, but it was later, on the night of the concert, that she realized I was the featured soloist.

I had actually noticed Janet during her freshman orientation and was nervous to meet her — though I always tried to play cool. During the orchestra tour in Prague in early 2003, I worked up the chutzpah (with the help of Yoonmee Cho ’05) to approach her. The rest, as they say, was history. We were inseparable during the spring of that first year and stayed together throughout our time at Princeton. We moved to New York, and after living there for several years, we moved to Los Angeles in 2009. In 2014, 11 years after our first meeting, we got married by our mutual friend Eliot Davidoff ’05 in Palm Springs, Calif. 

— James Shin ’05


On January 15 or 16 — we can’t agree on the exact date — 1971 we met at a party in our dorm suite at Little Hall. Judy was a sophomore at Georgian Court, a small New Jersey Catholic women’s college. My roommate Johnny Giovanoni, discovering she was from Minnesota, introduced us as I was talking to her roommate, Missy. Living less than 10 miles away in Minneapolis, I figured she’d be a perfect summer date. Next year will be our 45th summer.

For me, it was the most amazing night of my life. Foolishly in love and faced with enormous phone bills as she did not return to school but stayed in Minnesota, we married that November — a rare undergraduate marriage that did not involve failed birth control.

— Brian J. Williams ’72


A Princeton proposal, at the corner of William and Olden streets: Mike Lowry *06 and Nicole Crowder *08

We were introduced during a graduate school visitation weekend for the chemistry department in 2003. I was in my first year of the program and she was a prospective student. We connected right away and stayed in touch throughout the summer leading up to her arrival on campus. We shared our first date and first kiss at Princeton; our love blossomed as the list of memories we created in orange and black grew. In 2007, we got engaged on campus near the spot where we first met and were married in the presence of friends and family the following year.

— Mike Lowry *06 and Nicole Crowder *08


E. Scott Osborne *87, left, and Jeffrey Schwartz *87, right, with daughters Rachel and Biz in Rajasthan, India

The Setting: 1984, Woodrow Wilson School MPA entering class

He: Unassuming in appearance, he was always in the front row of every class, loudly engaging professors with comments, critiques, questions, lengthy digressions, and alternative lessons. He loved economics, thought in terms of complex math formulas, and wrote papers so confusing and convoluted even the writing coaches didn’t know where to start. By day three he knew everyone. His cooking skills started and ended at spreading cream cheese on a bagel. He could nap in any chair he sat in and never met an exercise regime he couldn’t talk his way out of.

She: Arriving to class wearing foot-high colorful cotton African headscarves, she stuck to herself and preferred the back of every lecture hall. She hated economics, wrote papers at the drop of a hat, and rarely volunteered anything to anyone. She cooked complex dishes requiring multiple trips to specialty food shops. She knew exactly what she wanted out of this experience: to get back to working in Africa. She had never owned a car or a TV and spent all her free time running.

The Match: At the placement office in Robertson Hall, under the watchful eye of the indomitable Ann Corwin, they discovered they had both been Peace Corps Volunteers, he in Nepal and she in Togo. They were the only Returned Peace Corps Volunteers in the class. And that, as they say, was that.

Postscript: Jeffrey Schwartz *87 and I have been married for 27 years, lived in seven different countries, and raised two daughters. But we totally credit Ann Corwin with silent matchmaking because, way before we knew, she must have known it would be a match.

— E. Scott Osborne *87


Jeff and Laura Moxley Quilici, both ’94

Jeff flirted with me before Outdoor Action started at the beginning of freshman year. By coincidence, my roommate was in his OA group, so we became introduced again. We started hanging out together during orientation week, and we’ve been together ever since — in fact, that was now 25 years ago.

— Laura Moxley Quilici ’94


Emma and Trevor Leitch, both ’02, at Reunions

We were part of the same group of friends in college, but I moved to Manhattan and he went off to Oxford after graduation. We didn’t see each other again until our fifth reunion. Sparks flew. We shared our first kiss on the dance floor under the tents at the fifth. By our sixth, we were engaged. By our seventh, married. When we marched in our ninth, I was 36 weeks pregnant. We'll be coming back for our 14th this year with our three little boys in tow. We never miss Reunions!

— Emma Leitch ’02 and Trevor Leitch ’02


Glen and Michelle McGorty, both ’95, back for their 20th reunion in 2015

We met in French 101, in our first class of freshman year. He apparently thought I was cute — though he didn’t tell me so at the time. We were acquaintances for the next three years, but our paths didn’t cross much; we were in different residential colleges, and I was consumed with the Triangle Club while he was heavily involved in student government and the Honor Committee. But when we both moved into officers’ rooms at Tower in the fall of senior year, we fell for each other (rather nauseatingly, according to our friends).

Seven years later, he proposed in the room in East Pyne where we met; a year after that, we walked down the aisle of the Chapel. We just celebrated our 20th reunion, and love coming back to campus with our three kids. In 13 years of marriage, we’ve only missed a handful of P-rades and Triangle shows. Princeton will always have a special place in our hearts!

— Michelle McGorty ’95


“Did you meet your spouse at Princeton?” Yes, but neither of us were students at that time.

My father was Richard Green ’26, the same class as William Vodrey.  Also a member of this class was Jonathan Higgins, whose wife loved to play Cupid. On May 10, 1958, the Higgins family planned a small ’26 picnic on the banks of Lake Carnegie and invited the Greens. Alice called my parents a few days before the picnic, asking if I had returned from a job in France and was told I had.  “Well, bring her along,” she said — Bill Vodrey’s son, Jackman had just returned from Germany (Army) and was living in New York.

Jackman’s birthday is mid-April and his parents gave him eight pairs of tickets to Broadway shows. He invited me to each of these shows, attending three and four shows a week!

We met on that fateful day, and within two weeks were engaged and married in late August 1958 (just celebrated our 57th anniversary). So yes, we “met at Princeton” but are not the typical boy-meets-girl story.

— Jane G. Vodrey k’26