Campus home to love of all different ages

Even though campus is constantly changing, the one permanent thing the University provides with each passing year is a meeting place for young couples. This Valentine’s Day, three couples — one who has been together for fifty-six years, one for fifty and the other for two — reflect on how the University and technology have influenced their relationships. One thing is for certain: a whole lot has changed.

Roberta Zimmerman, a 1962 business graduate, met her husband Harold Zimmerman, a 1961 LAS graduate, only 8 weeks after she transferred to the University from Wisconsin.

“We hung out together in a group and one night we were all studying, and he said ‘would anyone like to go to a movie,’ and I said ‘I would’ and that was the beginning,” Zimmerman said.

Recalling the ‘hot spots’ on campus at the time, Zimmerman mentioned a bar called the Capital and a Chinese restaurant called The Tea Room, where she received an interesting sign.

“The first time we went (to The Tea Room) my fortune said ‘he is the right one’,” Zimmerman said.

Even more interesting was her all-time favorite place to meet up with him on campus.

“The rules were so strict in those days (so) when we wanted to make out we went over to the cemetery,” Zimmerman said. “That’s where we did — in those days — what we called ‘necking.’”

Zimmerman, and her then boyfriend, also had a unique way of keeping in touch while on campus.

“He had bought an old rusted bike for $15, and that’s how he got around. If I would see his bike and not him I would leave him a note,” Zimmerman said. “My notes would always say ‘woe is me alas despair, your bike is here but you’re not anywhere’.”

Communication was a lot easier for Jon Law, who works in computer programing, and his fiancé Nicole Hall, senior in MCB. The two met in 2008 through the Marching Illini, but didn’t start dating until 2010.

“We are talking constantly,” Hall said. “We text constantly, Skype from time to time (and) if we are on Facebook we’ll chat with one another.”

The couple, who has been in a long-distance relationship since Law left the University last year, rely on technology to keep close.

“It’s fantastic that we can stay in touch all the time because it’s hard enough as it is being 180 some miles apart,” Law said.

However, when they were together on campus, the sport-loving couple spent lots of their time at different athletic events.

“Sporting events are really big for us,” Hall said. “We’re really big into hockey, volleyball and gymnastics.”

Attending the University not only allowed them to enjoy time together without having to use technology, but it also was the perfect place to foster a relationship based on shared interests.

“I think the best part, especially on a campus like U of I that has so many activities, you really get to explore your interests and to find out what you have in common,” Law said.

Hall agreed that their connection to the same alma mater makes their relationship even stronger.

“Meeting in college gives you a longer time together, but I like that it’s something we have in common,” Hall said. “The things we support are all around this University and everything it stands for.”

Support for the Orange and Blue is also something that has brought Ken and Marianne Kellerhals closer throughout the years, though they met long before their college days at a church function in the 7th grade.

“I went home that day and said that I’d met the boy I was going to marry,” Marianne said.

It took Ken, on the other hand, a little more convincing to realize Marianne was the one.

“She had to chase me,” he said.

The two went on to date all through high school and college. Although they could communicate by telephone while in school, smart phones were not an option and plans often were made by happenstance.

“There were three or four popular places (on campus) and that’s where everyone went,” Marianne said. “You really didn’t (plan a) date every single night; you met places.”

Since their own graduation in 1956, they now have over twenty University graduates in the family. Although they no longer have to wait to run into each other to spend time together, they still have a special way of communicating on a day-to-day basis — something that they say is the secret to a long lasting marriage.

“From the day we were married he decided that he would bring me a cup of coffee in bed (and) for 56 years we (have started) every morning in bed with a cup of coffee,” Marianne said. “Always start the day with the person you love; it can only go up from there.”

Besides a morning cup of coffee, the Kellherhals also keep laughter a part of their relationship.

“Each year I go to the court house to check on that (marriage) license,” Ken said. “I was waiting for it to expire and it never did so I’m still married to her.”

Looking across the table at her husband, Marianne responded with a smiling certainty.

“I told him it was the best two dollars he ever spent,” responded Marianne. “He doesn’t know what a bargain he got.”