SNC Faculty Reveal Personal Love Stories


On Thursday, Feb. 18, Upperclass ALIVE hosted a “How I Met My Spouse” event from 8-9 p.m. in the Cassandra Voss Center. Every seat was filled as attendees gathered to listen to dialogues from four admired St. Norbert College faculty members and their spouses. The couples that participated were Dr. John Neary and Dr. Laura Neary, Dr. Bridget Burke Ravizza and Dr. John Ravizza, Dr. Mara Brecht and Mr. Ben Kesling and President Tom Kunkel and Mrs. Deb Kunkel.

The dialogue began with each couple retelling their story of how they first met one another.

President Kunkel recalled the day a new family moved in next door to him in 1950: “There was a very cute five-year-old girl in that family, and we spent about the next 10 years ignoring each other […] but at about age 15, we started getting interested in one another. […] We started dating, and at about 18, we started talking about when we might get married, and we got married at 20,” he said. On Sunday, Feb. 21, the Kunkels celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.

The Nearys first met when Dr. L. Neary was moving into her campus dorm, which happened to be the same dorm she had lived in the previous year. Dr. J. Neary’s good intentions of helping her locate her room back-fired, as he was not familiar with the building.

“But there was something about him and his long hair and his purple crushed velvet bellbottom pants […] and a yellow striped t-shirt with bumble bee stripes, […] that’s what I go for,” said Dr. L. Neary.

The Ravizzas first became acquainted while working as Resident Assistants together.

“You have to spend a lot of time together with training and different events, so I just thought he was really cute, and the more time I spent with him, the more time I wanted to spend with him,” said Dr. BBR.

Dr. Mara Brecht first met Mr. Ben Kesling at a welcome picnic at Harvard Divinity School.

“That year it happened to be the case that the two women who headed the picnic were evangelical Christians and they said there could be no alcohol at the event. […] This person walks up to me and says ‘I’m collecting money for beer, you want to throw in?’ […] So I gave five dollars for beer and that was the beginning of our relationship,” said Dr. Brecht.

Another question asked the couples, “When you argue with each other, what techniques do you use to diffuse the tension?”

“I think it’s important that you don’t pretend that you don’t have arguments. I think that if you’re in an honest relationship, you are going to have differences of opinion. […] It’s one of those ironies of life that people you love the most are also the ones that you are the most unfair and unpleasant to and the reason why is because you trust them so much,” President Kunkel responded.

“One of the things we’ve sort of come to realize is different personality types and we really understand that in each other. […] Knowing these personality differences is huge for making a relationship work,” added Dr. J. Neary.

To end the dialogue, the couples were asked, “What’s your favorite thing to do with your partner?”

“We don’t have to be doing anything, really,” said Dr. BBR.

“I think especially with kids, then that adds a whole new dimension because you start to appreciate those times a lot more. […] You stop to appreciate that hour you can spend together,” Dr. J. Ravizza added.

“I love going on trips with Mara and her friends. […] It’s fantastic because you expand the conversation, and just making sure that the person you’re with has good friends is a really important witness test,” Mr. Kesling responded.


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