Falling in Love at UT

Everyone loves a good love story, so we asked our readers for their tales of love at UT. You obliged us with stories of love at first sight, blind dates, and campus weddings.

LoweI have been married twenty-three years to my husband, Ted Lowe Jr. We were in a class for a short time together; however, he dropped the class. I told my friend, Mary White, “That’s the guy I am going to marry.” She laughed at me because I didn’t know his name. I was really disappointed because I had no idea how to meet him when he dropped the class. Another friend of mine, Cynthia Ruby, wanted me to go on a blind date with her fiancé Tim Wilson’s best friend from high school. I really didn’t want to go. I finally agreed to the date. On February 27, 1987, out of the thousands of male UT students, I opened my door to my blind date. It was Ted, the guy from my class that I said I was going to marry. We tease to this day that we were destined or doomed to be together. We married on July 22, 1989. Our love story is a true miracle. Thanks for letting me share.

—Cathy Green Lowe (’87)


I was a junior at UT in 1951 and met Jan on a blind date. I knew that first night that she was the one for me. After three dates, I said that if I didn’t think she would think I was crazy, I would ask her to marry me. She replied, “Don’t; I would probably accept.”

We were married in 1952 and have had sixty wonderful years together.

—Thomas Pope

WadeI met my husband Donnie Wade (’01) at the HYPR gyms in 1998. Donnie was playing basketball in the intramural league, and I was there watching the games. We kept running into each other on campus, and I finally agreed to go on a date with him. We were pretty much inseparable from that point on. Donnie and I both paid for college ourselves and as a new graduate, I moved back home to Florida to find a job.  Donnie graduated a semester after I left Knoxville and packed up everything he had and moved to Florida!  He had never lived anywhere but Nashville and Knoxville.

Soon after the move, Donnie began working for Virgin Entertainment—located at Disney World—as their Loss Prevention manager. We both had talked about getting married, but starting new careers and trying to pay the bills didn’t afford much time or money to plan a wedding. By this time, it was the beginning of 2002, and Donnie was offered a position as a regional Loss Prevention manager with a major retailer. The only catch was it would mean moving, but the good news was that it would be back to Tennessee.

Since I was teaching high school English in Orlando, I finished out the school year before relocating to Nashville. Donnie and I quickly found a great neighborhood to buy a house, and I began teaching that fall with Metro Nashville.  Soon after arriving, Donnie gave me a ring and asked me to marry him, and I of course said yes. However, we both were so busy with our careers, time sort of flew by! I had gone back to school to get my Master’s in Education Administration and left the classroom to work in instructional technology at the district’s central office.

The next thing we know, it’s 2007 and we decide to stop procrastinating and plan a wedding, but much to our surprise we had to make plans for a baby! Bryson Manning Wade, yes that’s right “Manning,” was born August 11, 2008. He is truly the love of our lives. We made a promise that we would get married before he went to kindergarten. Bryson started going to football games at nine months old and even went to his first Tennessee/Florida game at the age of two! Our procrastinating caught up to us again, but my mom and sister, both Tennessee alums, told us it was time to get it together! I had always wanted to get married in Knoxville and found the perfect location—the Bridgeview at the Boathouse. It could not have been better. Everyone at UT Catering and the UT Bakery was amazing! From my pennant-shaped invitations and programs and orange shaker centerpieces to my orange high heels and Tennessee game day cowboy boots, it could not have been more perfect!  Bryson served as Donnie’s best man! It was very fitting that we got married on Friday night before Homecoming 2012. It truly was a homecoming! My friends and family all tailgated on Saturday and went to the game.  It was a long time coming, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Life is an adventure and I get to share this adventure with my college sweetheart!

—Kelly Scealf (McKinney) Wade (’00)

My husband was visiting UT Martin and we had mutual friends. It was love from first sight and we were inseparable. He was a student at Jackson State so he transferred to UTM. We both received a BS in animal science. Dr. Robinson—a minister and our professor in animal science—married us! All of the wedding party were students or alumni from UTM, including my brother and sister-in-law. I finished an MS in reproductive physiology at UT Knoxville and finished veterinary school in Knoxville, as well. We were engaged for three years while attending UTM and now have been married twenty-eight years. It will be twenty-nine years in April.

—Allison H. Climer

Broadwater1962My wife and I met in 1960 at my fraternity house at one of our evening dinners when she was a freshman and I was a junior. We got married in 1963 and have had a wonderful life together. We recently attended my fiftieth class reunion.

—Alan Broadwater (’62)


TylerIn 1972, while working in the Athletic Department as Gus Manning’s secretary, I was asked by Dave Cantrell to order decorations for the athletic dining room. When UT played Vandy out of town, UT entertained the orphans from John Tarleton on Thanksgiving. I ordered decorations from the same company that the Krystal on Cumberland Avenue used. When the decorations came in, Dave sent a waiter from the training table to ask me if I’d like to come down and help decorate the dining room. That waiter was Terry Tyler, my best love and best friend for almost forty years. We’ve also been Vol fans and supporters all these years.

—Linda Tyler

Duff1My husband and I married June 9, 2007. We met in Biology 101 our freshman year at UT. We didn’t have an entire UT-themed wedding, but parts of it were very much Rocky Top-inspired.

—Jessica (Pipkin) Duff (’06)
—Brandon Duff (’06)


RogersDuring the fall quarter of 1955, I was at lunch at the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house when one of my frat brothers and his pinned girlfriend said they were looking for blind dates to a UT dance for some of her sorority sisters. When she said Joan Phelps, I recognized her as the girl who lived next door to me in Lenoir City when I was in kindergarten. I had moved away the next year and had not seen her since. I took her to the dance (Jimmy Dorsey Band), and over the next year, we fell in love. Joan graduated with a degree in journalism in May 1957, and we were married in September 1957. After I graduated in December 1957 with a degree in industrial management, we lived in Knoxville; Chattanooga; Dallas, Texas; and, since 1966, in Altamonte Springs, Florida. We had three beautiful children and nine grandchildren. We had been married more than forty-five years when she passed away in 2003. Our years at UT were some of the happiest in our lives and we remained loyal Tennessee rooters all our days.

—Bill Rogers


burka1Yes we met and fell in love on the UT campus. We both rode the bus to UT, and I got on the bus a few stops after John did. He tried to find somebody who knew me so we could be introduced, but finally he just got off the bus first and on the way to Ayres Hall he stopped and introduced himself. I remember a curly-haired boy asking me how my father was doing on his diet. My father was Hugh Allen, who wrote a humor column in the Knoxville News Sentinel. Now, my father was a bit overweight, and the Sentinel was publishing his progress on a hot dog diet. There were pictures on the front page of him with his shirtsleeves rolled up and getting ready to jog….John and I walked to class and talked every day after that. We ate lunch at the Ellis and Ernst drugstore, and we studied together at the library. He didn’t have a car, so our first date was a double date with his friend who had one. We stopped at Smoky Mountain Market for hot dogs on that first date. We were married in 1950, and sixty-two years later, we are still happily married with a great family.

—Laura Burka


McGinnisLiving only five minutes from UT, I was raised a Vol….When my college years came around, I went to another university for undergrad but later enrolled in UT seeking a master’s degree in communications. My faculty advisor required leveling classes in communications before I could begin the master’s program. I ended up in class with a great group of undergraduate communications students in the Alpha Epsilon Rho communications honors program. We had classes together, spent time writing stories and working “on the air” at WUTK. We traveled together to New York, Cincinnati, and other places to experience great broadcast entertainment and news outlets.

In one of those early classes, a beautiful blonde with big ’80s hair turned my head. After a couple of weeks in the program, I noticed Anita Grossmann and her friend Amy McLemore sitting on my row in a broadcast news class. This was my chance; I was going to talk to Anita. As class dismissed, I put my plan into motion. As the two girls walked past my desk, I stepped out between them. Anita didn’t notice that I was now walking right behind her. She asked Amy, without looking back, “When are we going to see that movie?” Without missing a beat, I replied, “I thought you’d never ask.” She turned around, startled to hear a male voice, and said something like, “I wasn’t talking to you.” But in spite of my awkward start, our conversation continued for the next several weeks.

Eventually, both of us were sent to cover the same news story for the class and it involved traveling across town. I eagerly volunteered to drive us. Our assignment was to cover an event called “Great Communication in Marriage.” Afterwards I took her to what used to be Grady’s Restaurant for dinner, and the rest, as we say, was history. I was in love. We went through some bumps and rattles those dating years—even survived a broken engagement—but we have been married for twenty-two wonderful years, and have four children, ages twelve to eighteen.

I am currently a pastor in Chattanooga, and Anita is a Christian communicator and full-time mom. We still make it back to Rocky Top, and the memories of friends, hanging out on Circle Park Drive, deejaying for WUTK, and yelling for our Vols flood our minds. Our kids, though they act bored with our stories, actually enjoy hearing of those great days “on a hallowed hill in Tennessee.” We both have unforgettable memories of our time at UT; it was great to be young and in love at UT!

—Bill McGinnis


Weisberg1In 1969, Carrick Hall North and Carrick Hall South were segregated into male and female dorms and part of the “Complex.” My roommate and her roommate went to high school together in Chattanooga and we were both out-of-state students. Eventually, her suitemate began dating my roommate, but I still didn’t know Elaine. In those days, there was no such thing as parity. The boys could be out all night long, and the girls had a curfew. Sounds archaic, but that was the way it was. To this day we laugh and disagree with some of the details about our first meeting, but since it is my pen in hand, it will be my version (ha ha).

The phone rang at about 2:00 a.m., and I groggily answered it. It was Elaine stating that her suitemate asked her to call my roommate and ask if we’d fly down to the Krystal and pick up some burgers for them. I said—well, “said” isn’t quite the right word—I yelled that we were asleep and that was the rudest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Of course, the next day, I wanted a glimpse of “that girl!” Well, I saw a slender brunette wearing a short leather jacket and bell-bottomed blue jeans, and she was pretty danged beautiful….I thought I’d marry that girl someday, but I thought that about a lot of girls. One way or another we all became friends—good friends. I was dating some different girls, and Elaine was dating some different gents. We would all be confidants with each other and help the other with their “relationship problems.” About a year later, Elaine was helping me work out some issues with a girl I was dating. We devised a plan that would create a “happy break-up.” It worked. We worked together really, really well. In our victory celebration we stopped, paused a moment, and realized that in all our other relationships there were problems, but in ours it was fun and sincere, and there was a true desire to help each other out. At that moment, we were outwardly in love and sealed it with a kiss. We dated until I graduated and then we married at Elaine’s house with all our friends and family.

This March we will be married forty years. We live in California now, having three grandchildren from our two sons’ marriages. We bleed orange, still laugh, still partners in all aspects of life, still helping each other and occasionally crying together. And I still, at times, just watch her walk or gaze at her working in the yard and see that gorgeous brunette (who is now a blonde—after all, this is California) with that black leather jacket and bell-bottomed blue jeans and realize that she is still my best friend and a gift from God and the University of Tennessee. You see, we are getting old now, but with our memories of when we were only teens together; we are still in the dorms, still going to classes, still rooting for UT, still laughing together, and still bickering over the true version of how we met. Love doesn’t get any better than that, does it? Well, at least for me it doesn’t.

—Rick Weisberg (’73)


MortonI always loved returning to school in the fall. Picture this: Students are returning to school. Parents are happy and sad—happy that their children are off to school and mad because their children have so much junk to move. It’s 1973, a typical fall day in Knoxville, when I met Robby Morton. It was my sophomore year and Robby’s freshman year. My girlfriend and I were walking across campus. We stopped to talk to her boyfriend, and that’s when I met Robby. Initially, I didn’t care for Robby because he made some smart remark to me and was a little cocky. Actually, I couldn’t stand him. We still laugh about that today. Whenever we happened to be together, we were cordial…but barely.

Several months after our initial meeting, Robby was hurt during practice and couldn’t travel with the team. He was feeling kind of down and a little lonely. Rita told me about his injury, so I gave him a call. We ended up talking all night and got to know each other better. By the spring of ’74, when the dogwoods were blooming, we were spending a lot of time talking and hanging out around the Humanities Building. Its warm glow and peaceful presence were the backdrop for our growing relationship. We became a couple, and the rest is history. We dated for seven years and have been married for thirty-two years. We are nearing the forty-year mark (June 21, 2013). We have two pretty cool kids: a son, Ramsey, and a daughter, Sydney. Ramsey caught the UT bug and is presently a second-year law student at UT. Sydney is a junior at the University of Louisville.

When asked the question “If you could return to any time in your life, what would that be?” I reply, “I would love to be eighteen again at the University of Tennessee.”

—Schuronda W. Morton

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Hamill B. Carey February 13, 2013 - 10:19 pm

During the fall of 1948 I saw this girl playing bridge at our fraternity house. Somebody told me she was Bob Cooke’s girlfriend from Loudon. A friend got me a date with Betty Greer in January 1949 and after graduation June 4th, 1951 we got married. Aftert 2 years in the Air Force we later moved to Loudon. We raised 4 sons there and sent them to UT. They gave us 9 grandchildren-4 girls and 5 boys. Betty passed away 5 years ago from lung cancer. I still have my Orange & White convertible with a Chi Omega sticker on the windshield!
Ham Carey

Isaac Okoreeh-Baah February 14, 2013 - 4:26 pm

We also met at UTK in 1974, married in 1976, and been one since. It has been a wonderful ride. I am glad to read all of the above. UT creates longevity in life. Let’s keep it up. Will Love to tell our story but it is probably too late.

Melitta Stoutt February 14, 2013 - 4:33 pm

Wonderful stories!!! Thanks for sharing!

Don Castleman February 14, 2013 - 5:20 pm

In September 1964 in the Sophie’s cafeteria line, I turned around to ask the girl behind me about her sweater (I was discussing sweater fiebers with another law student). We got married in Sept. 1966 and after four children and travels to all seven continents we are still as happy as can be.

Karen riales February 14, 2013 - 7:04 pm

We met at UT in the summer of 1971. I was a high school student attending a National Science Foundation program. Several of my husband’s roommates had previously been in the program. My husband came with those guys to let us know what to expect in the program. Actually, they were just checking out the girls. Anyway, we started dating that summer. through the next school year, we dated each oth off & on, because my husband was in the engineering co-op program. I started UT in the fall, 1972, We dated exclusively. We got married March, 1973. This next month, we will celebrate our 40th anniversary. Thanks UT!

Stuart Fynboe February 14, 2013 - 8:15 pm

I met my wife a couple years after graduating from UT. But before I asked her to marry me, I asked that she visit one very special place (UT in Knoxville). Now 42 years and many UT football games later, we still often recall that very special trip when I asked her to be my wife.

Tory February 20, 2013 - 5:22 pm

I too met my husband at UT, and I loved reading these. Thanks for sharing them!


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