Happy Valentine's Day!
In the spirit of the holiday, here are our featured Oswego love stories for 2017:
Vanessa Vair Reitz ’06 calls it “true Oswego love.”
The graphic designer met her husband at SUNY Oswego freshman orientation. But she didn’t begin dating Justin Reitz ’07 then; rather, she introduced him to another student, who became his first college girlfriend.
“We didn't start dating until finals week of our junior year,” she said. “I saw him at The Brick bar, I squealed ‘Justin!’ and I jumped on him.”
Following that fateful tackle, the couple dated for four years. They married in 2009 and now have two boys, Victor ’34 and Conrad ’36. They live in Buffalo, N.Y.
Freshmen orientation also brought together another SUNY Oswego couple. Mary Pidel Crawford ’61 recalls passing a group
of upperclassmen--”the grubbers”--every day in the dining hall.
“As we passed them, they begged food from us,” she said. “‘Hey, are you going to eat that?’ There was always something that I didn't need, so I gave it to them.”
Among the grubbers was her future husband, John Crawford ’60. They were married for five years before John died fighting in the Vietnam War. Today, Mary resides in Lorton, Va.
Another couple nearly missed crossing paths with each other throughout their four years at Oswego.
Esther Elsey LaClair ’59 of Tully, N.Y., said she spent four years at Oswego, studying elementary education and living on campus.
Meanwhile her future husband, Thomas ’59, studied industrial arts, wrestled for the Lakers and lived at home.
“It was June 8, 1959, in graduation line from Oswego State University that Tom and I met for the first time,” she said.”It only took four years of an Oswego Education and a quick ‘Hello, my name is’ at graduation time to find us happily married 47 years later. Thank you, Oswego!”
PHOTO CAPTIONS: Top photo: the Reitz family. Middle photo: Taken in her senior year at SUNY Oswego, Mary Pidel '61 socializes with John Crawford '60. Bottom photo: The Crawfords were married for five years before John died fighting in the Vietnam War.
Francine Zoklower Wolf '71 - Largo, Florida
My love story goes back to 1969. The love of my life was a student at Oswego studying English, and encouraged me to apply in order to get my bachelor's degree as I had just graduated with an associate's from Suffolk County Community College. I did, got accepted, and that summer, he ended up in the Air Force and left for Vietnam in October. He drove me up from Long Island, and got me settled into the dorm, and left. We never got to continue our love story together at Oswego. My story has a sad ending. But it's a part of my life that is vivid and will never be forgotten. I graduated in 1971 with a degree in Elementary Education.
Previously on Oswego Love Stories 2016:
Ariel Powers ’13 and Brian West ’13 were married on Aug. 15, 2015. The couple met at freshman orientation. They now reside in West Laurens, New York.
“It all started on July 7, 2009. That is when I met my husband, while speed dating. I was attending freshman orientation at SUNY Oswego. All of the future freshman were separated into small groups and put in the hands of their Laker Leaders. We then spent a majority of the afternoon doing ice breakers (yes, those awkward games that force you to get to know other people). Anyways, you could tell that several groups were becoming bored as they now knew the names, hometowns, majors, pets, and second cousin’s favorite ice cream of their group mates by heart. To change it up a bit my group combined with another for the ‘speed dating’ ice breaker. It is pretty self explanatory. You have two lines facing each other and you move down the line talking to the person across from you. It was this moment that changed my life forever.
"Sometimes you hear about those stories of true love and love at first sight never knowing if it actually exists. At that moment, when my eyes met Brian’s, I knew he was going to be the man I was going to marry. For the both of us, we had that instantaneous connection and sparks just flew. We got beyond the name and hometown and discovered we were both attending SUNY Oswego for Meteorology. Then we entered the realm of hobbies. I asked if he had any hobbies and the first one he listed was fishing. I remember squealing like a little school girl. I love fishing and I could not believe how much I had in common with this person I just met. That was it. The Laker Leaders told us to move down the line and I didn’t get to talk to him again that game.
"We ran into each other again while picking up our student ID’s and he befriended me on The Laker, where we got to know a little more about each other throughout the Summer, prior to starting classes. As school started we became very close friends and come February we were an item. Some people might say we were glued at the hip.
"We did everything together. We took a lot of the same classes, attended every home hockey game, ate at the dining hall sharing a tray, watched many sunsets, and took many walks around the lagoon. We even went overseas twice. We had each other’s support and comfort while studying abroad in Maceio, Brazil and we learned the importance of team work and trust while summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. We were literally by each other’s side every step to the summit and back.
"We ignited a spark that July day and it has grown ever since. We both know we have married our best friend and we continue our adventures together. We also look forward to the life we have ahead knowing there is nobody else we would rather spend it with. We have SUNY Oswego to thank for bringing us together and providing us with so many wonderful memories.”
Fond memories of Love Stories from 2015:
Joan Bresseleers Ahders '54: Howard Ahders and I met during the first days of classes in Oswego 1950. Since our classes were alphabetical, we had all of them together. We also used to walk home together, as I lived in the Wallace House on 5th Street and Howard lived on West 4th. Sometime during the spring of 1951 we started going steady and continued all that semester. We enjoyed movies, eating at Cosmos and taking long walks down by the river, along with attending many school functions. The next semester Howard transferred to University at Albany and that began the letter writing between two lonely people. Three years later, we both graduated and became engaged. Howard accepted a job in Maryland learning about RADAR while I accepted a position in West Babylon, Long Island. The letter writing continued. We were married July 2, 1955, and Howard went into the Army for two more years, so the letter writing continued. We kept the letters all these years, and just recently we read through over 800 plus letters. It was reliving classes at school, friends and loves, and our own frustrations of trekking through a lonesome romance via the mail. This July, we will be celebrating 60 years of marriage, and I'm very glad to say that it all began at Oswego.
Jon Koppel ’83 and Lela Katzman ’83 met their freshman year when they both worked the front desk at the Penfield Library. "Over the course of the next three years, Jon and I never worked the same shift again (although we both worked all four years at the library). We became friends our senior year through happenstance and continued our friendship for several years after graduation. We didn't start dating until three years out of college, which was good...we had established a great friendship which is still the foundation of our relationship. (We just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.) We instilled a love of Oswego in our two wonderful sons, one of whom graduated in 2013 (Zach Koppel ’13) from SUNY Oswego. I continue to come back to Oswego, too, through my work as a marketing communications consultant, and through family connections. Oswego is what brought Jon and I together and this experience remains the cornerstone of our connection."
Marianne Fleckenstein McGrath ’71 and Jim McGrath ’70 met at a Halloween party at Waterbury Hall in 1968, and they still love going to Halloween parties!
Jim Naze ’90 and Lisa Ritchie Naze ’90 met fall semester of their freshman year. "I was living in Johnson (the all girl dorm at the time) and I went with a friend to visit one of our friends in Riggs Hall. There was no mistaking Riggs as the all male dorm on campus because the smell of sweat, Dominos pizza and Polo by Ralph Lauren hit you as soon as you walked in the door. When we went to visit our friend, we found some of his floor mates in his room. I found Jim, in particular, to be obnoxious. This Upstate NY girl was quite perplexed by this boisterous guy with a Boston accent. I found him to be quite annoying. Yet, I was strangely attracted to him, which was the most bothersome of all. We hung out in the same circles, so I would see Jim from time to time. A few months later we had our first kiss on my 19th birthday at Bucklands. There was also no mistaking walking into Bucklands as your feet stuck to what we affectionately called Buck Muck upon entrance. Like most girls, I felt I needed a label for the relationship, and after a couple of months, I stupidly asked where our relationship was headed. Jim responded with a classic statement that I still tease him about to this day...'We dated before, we'll probably date again.' A few weeks later we broke up, but he wasn't wrong. We started dating again in the fall of our junior year and have been together ever since. We now live in Central Massachusetts, where Jim is a senior packaging engineer and I am an adjunct professor at a local community college. We have two children (Elena and Adam), and we will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary this May. We often recall our days in Oswego with fondness, talking about the people and places we encountered--most especially the great times, easy living and lack of responsibility. I left Oswego with my undergraduate degree, experiences that helped shape me into the person I am, long-lasting friendships and great memories. But I was also most fortunate to take my best friend and partner in life with me. For those reasons and many more, Oz will always hold a special place in our hearts."
Allyson Myers Mooney ’98 and Kevin Mooney ’00
met in a broadcasting class and learned they shared a connection to Laker Hockey. "He wrote about the games for The Oswegonian
, and I kept every article. He did play-by-play for the games, and I sang the national anthem. We have been together ever since! Kevin is my best friend and soul mate!"
Sharon Bell Goccia ’69 and Bill Goccia ’69 met in September. "He was working in the cafeteria, and I was a resident assistant. We were inseparable. We were engaged in December and married in June!! We will be celebrating 46 years of marriage this year, and have two daughters and six grandsons!"
Steve Kenyon ’71
: "It was a winter night. Margaret Gengler Kenyon ’72
was pledging a sorority, taking the pledge-mistress to Cornell for the weekend. The car she was riding in went into the ditch. I stopped to help. She got out of the vehicle and smiled at me. I fell for her at that moment. The next week, I made up a survey, which I took to her sorority table so I could talk to her under the guise of a class assignment. I eventually got her number and asked her on a date. She said yes, thinking she might meet one of my fraternity brothers but fell in love with me instead."
More Oswego love stories from 2014
Julie McEwen Garone '08 and Greg Garone '08 were introduced through mutual friends in February of their senior year. They began dating at the end of April 2008, knowing that graduation wasn't far off when they would soon be returning to their hometowns nearly 400 miles apart. After almost one year of a long-distance relationship, the two moved in together and were married five years later!
Jim Wisniewski ’89 and Lisa Frattare '89 met the first weekend of freshman year, and have been together ever since. This September will mark their 29th dating anniversary, and this summer will be their 20th wedding anniversary. Four states, three kids, four pets and a boatload of friends later, they could not be happier. Thank you, Oswego, for bringing us together!
Joe Finan '09 and Alaina Bergerstock '08 met shortly before Alaina graduated from Oswego in 2008. They actually lived a couple houses down from each other off campus. They will be together six years in March and are getting married in May this year!
Robert Savicki '98 and Beth Kotary Savicki '97 - Robert lived in room 202 in Seneca Hall. Beth lived in 208. They met on the second day of school, freshman year and have been together ever since! Twenty-one years later, they are married with an 11-year-old daughter. Every Valentine's Day, they celebrate at the Oswego Sub Shop then enjoy a trip down memory lane and walk through campus! They hope their daughter will one day be a Laker!
Nathan Roder '08 and Sarah Boutwell '12 - On Sarah's first day working at Disability Services her freshman year, she was greeted by the graduate assistant, Nathan Roder. From that day on, they became great friends! There was an age gap, and they were both in other relationships, but neither of those things got in the way of their friendship! After the year they enjoyed working together, they were separated by Nate graduating. After that, they stayed in contact through Facebook messages every once in a while, just to check on each other. It wasn't until the summer of 2011 that things really took off. While reuniting once again at the Disability Services Office, they struck up a conversation and learned that they were both single! That summer, they hit things off and things looked promising until Nate accepted a job as a math teacher in Charleston, S.C. Because Sarah had already committed to chiropractic school, they said their goodbyes, and life moved on. After Sarah graduated in May 2012, she had a change of heart. She realized that Nate was far more important to her than becoming a chiropractor!!! She moved down there to be with him, and it is the best decision she has ever made. They will be getting married on June 14 of this year, and it would have never been possible without SUNY Oswego! They love their alma mater as much as they love each other! GO LAKERS!
Michael Kassal '98 and Susan Davis Kassel '95 met at the Psi Phi House in Spring '92 during an attic party! She had just finished pledging Phi Lamb, what better place to celebrate?
Harvey Susman '76 and Renée Kavanagh Susman '75 met in Mackin Dining Hall, Fall 1972. They started dating Dec. 1 at a Lakeside "Beer Blast." They decided to get married almost immediately, but waited until after graduation in1976. They have been married 37 years and both agree that "no one else would put up with us," but "we're perfect for each other."
Justin Reitz '07 and Vanessa Vair Reitz '06 - It was at the 2002 freshman orientation when Justin and Vanessa met. They saw each other around campus but didn't start dating until finals week of junior year. Their first date was watching the sunset by the lake. They dated for four years, moved to Greater NYC and were engaged July 2008. Both are originally from Western New York so they decided to have their wedding in Buffalo on Thanksgiving Weekend 2009 with 20+ Oswego alumni among the guests. In August 2010, Justin and Vanessa relocated to Buffalo, and in March 2013, they welcomed their son, Victor Thomas Wolfgang, future SUNY Oswego Class of 2034.
Joe Wegman '09 and Rosanne Luis-Wegman '09 - Joe and Rosanne met during their freshman year, in fall 2005. They were both on an intercollegiate retreat sponsored by the Hall Newman Center. When they first met, they had awful first impressions of each other! Joe thought Rosanne was a fast-talking city kid, and Rosanne found him to be too dorky and annoying. Nevertheless, they became friends and found out that they had more in common than they thought. Over the next four years in Oswego, Joe and Rosanne spent a lot of time with each other, playing video games, hanging out with friends and going on more retreats. Sometimes, they had heart-to-heart conversations with each other, and that drew Rosanne closer to him. However, it wasn't until their senior year that she realized she had feelings for him. She had figured this out exactly one month before they were graduating. Deciding it was now or never, she took Joe on a walk and timidly admitted her feelings for him. To her surprise, he felt the same way! They started dating the next day. Joe and Rosanne will celebrate being together five years, this coming April. They were married last year and most recently, welcomed their daughter, Amelia, this past January. When they are not changing diapers, singing lullabies or being up all hours of the night, they reminisce fondly of their time at Oswego. They can't wait to take Amelia back to Oz, so they can experience her first Oswego sunset together---as a family.
Andy McIIwraith '01 and Chrissy Scofield McIIwraith '01 - Andy and Chrissy had a Spanish class together the first semester of their freshman year, and while they noticed each other right away, they didn't officially meet until late in their junior year, when they were both selected to be Student Orientation Leaders. They hit it off as friends right away, but their friendship grew into love as they spent the summer in Funnelle Hall, welcoming incoming freshmen to the Oswego family. After sharing a canoe on a team-building field trip one sunny June afternoon, they knew they would never be apart again. They have been together nearly 14 years and will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this August in Florida, where they live with their two little boys. They are extremely grateful to have found each other. It is one of the many reasons they look back so fondly on their Oswego college experience.
Ross Goldberg '88 and Allison Goldberg '88 met first semester senior year in their Nutrition, Exercise and Aging class. They have now been together for 26 years, married for almost 22 years. They have three children and four dogs. Time does fly when you are having fun!!
Lee Hyde '80 dated Doris Drake Hyde '78 whenever she had a slot in her schedule from the time they met in 1976. Doris was the original "Bachelorette," playing a large field but committing to no one. Lee kept in touch after she graduated, visiting Ithaca and inviting her to Fulton. She attended his wedding in 1983 to his first wife, as a guest of his best man. He joined the Army, had three kids and got divorced. She moved to N.C. (where the Army left him) to help with the kids. He proposed to her on New Year's Day 1998, and they were married during Harborfest at sunset in front of Seneca Hall. Doris and Lee have been married more than 15 years, but have been friends for over twice as long!
Renee Abstender Marchak '94 and Jim Marchak '94 met at the end of their junior year at Oswego when they were introduced by Renee's sorority little sister in DPhiE. Their first date was on May 12, 1993, over an ice cream at Bev's, where they attempted to watch a sunset. Unfortunately, it poured so they just sat in Jim's car talking and eating ice cream. Then they went and played a game of pool at The Sting. On graduation night in May of 2014, Jim and Renee's families met for the first time and agreed Jim and Renee were the "real thing." Five years after meeting, Jim took Renee back to campus to take a trip down memory lane. They ended up at Bev's, where this time they got a sunset and Renee got a ring! Jim and Renee were married September 25, 1999, and have three amazing boys, James (born 2000) and twins, Brady and Kyle (born 2003). They currently reside in Brewerton, N.Y. They are both incredibly grateful for their time at Oswego and enjoy reminiscing about the good ol' days!
Richard "Chase" Collins '11 and Jacquelyn Costello Collins '11 met at Freshman Orientation in 2007, and began dating in September of their freshman year. After dating for seven years, Chase and Jackie were married on May 24, 2014. They are grateful to Oswego for bringing them together!