From Consensus to Commitment: A History of Tri-Co Marriages

College is said to be the place where one makes friendships that last a lifetime.  Yet, for many Haverford alumni, these relationships often turn into something more than just friendship.

“My husband proposed to me during my senior year in our fourth floor study carrel of Magill,” said Ann Figueredo ’84, whose class was the first class of women that were able to attend all four years at Haverford.

“On bended knee,” she added with a chuckle.  “How’s that for romantic?”

 Figueredo’s love story began in Yarnall during her freshman year, just days after the upperclassmen had arrived back on campus.  She was visiting a high school friend who lived there, and was introduced to her now-husband, Vince Figueredo ’83.

“We re-met on the steps to the Dining Center just days after, when I was reading a letter from my high school boyfriend,” said Figueredo, who is now Haverford’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement. “Then Vince plucked the letter from my hand and said, ‘You don’t want to be reading that anymore!’”

And the rest is history.

Tri-Co Love: A Statistical Overview

The Figueredo’s union is hardly unique within the Tri-Co community.  According to Corbett Shinn, Haverford’s Reporting and Analytics Manager for Institutional Advancement, among living Tri-Co alumni, there are currently 794 Haverford alumni married to other Haverford alumni, and 567 Haverford alumni married either to Bryn Mawr or Swarthmore alumni.  Haverford’s database contains marital information dating back until 1910.  According to this data, there have been 1045 total Tri-Co marriages since 1910.  Most of this information is self-reported, however, and there are likely more married couples than listed in the database.

“We were told that 1/3 of us would marry another Tri-Co alum,” joked Jim Koshland ’73, one half of the very first Haverford-Haverford marriage to occur.  Jim’s spouse, Cathy Koshland ’72, was one of six “refusniks” during the 1970-1971 school year – female exchange students who ultimately decided to transfer to Haverford.

The percentage of Haverford alumni who married either Bryn Mawr or Swarthmore alumni was significantly higher before Haverford went co-ed in 1980.  Of the data accumulated since 1910, 41 Haverford alumni have married Swarthmore alumni, the most recent of these marriages between Emily Predmore, Haverford class of ’06, and Misha Predmore, Swarthmore class of ’06.  603 Haverford alumni have married Bryn Mawr alumni since 1910.

With Pennsylvania’s legalization of gay marriage in May of last year, these numbers are likely to experience another significant upward trend (see Eils Lotozo’s feature “Just Married” in the latest issue of Haverford Magazine for a more detailed account on the nuptials of Haverford’s same-sex couples).

Graph by Joel Christian '15.

Graph by Joel Christian ’15.

Sowing the Seeds of Love: Fords Reunited

For some married Haverford alumni, the romance did not begin until after graduation.

“[Marty and I] didn’t start going out until 1986, when Marty was working as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia and I was working in a lab at Children’s Hospital,” said Jenny Lipman ’84.  “When my apartment was burglarized, I asked the ADA who was handling my case to give Marty my name and number. He called me, and the rest is history!”

Sarah Willie-LeBreton HC ’86 and Jonathan LeBreton HC ’79 did not overlap at Haverford, yet met on the campus while serving on the Alumni Association Executive Committee (AAEC) in 1998.

“[Sarah] mentioned that she was teaching a course on black women’s literature at Swarthmore, so following the meeting I sent her an email with a relevant citation to which I had added a fair amount of annotation,” said Jonathan, who is now the Senior Associate University Librarian at Temple University.

“I claimed I did this as a good research university librarian, but it served notice that I was indeed very interested in her–sort of an ‘academic pick-up line’ if you will.”

“And it worked!” added Sarah, who is the current chair of the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Swarthmore.

As co-members of the AAEC, Sarah and Jonathan feared that their relationship would pose a conflict of interest.  Yet their love prevailed, and Jonathan asked Sarah to marry him utilizing the same seductive topic that had won her over in 1998 – libraries.

“It was so romantic,” said Sarah, who said yes amidst 20,000 fellow librarians in Chicago while she and Jonathan were attending a national library conference.  “The AAEC and its staff gave us a beautiful photograph of the Duck Pond for a wedding gift.  It was very lovely.”

 

Havermarried

For others, such as the Figueredo’s, however, the romance began to blossom while both partners were attending Haverford.  Many couples cited the Nature Trail, the Duck Pond, and Lloyd Green as their favorite places to spend time together during the warmer months of the year.  During the summer, Haverford’s Great Hall in Founders Hall also serves as a venue for wedding receptions, almost all of which are for the nuptials of Haverford alumni.

Traci Hjelt Sullivan HC ‘84 and Walter Hjelt Sullivan HC ‘82 met through the Quaker Activities Committee (QuAC).  Traci’s performance in “Damn Yankees” soon thereafter made a lasting impression on Walter, and he mustered up the courage to send her an email while he was studying abroad in the Phillippines.

“[I] wrote a “report from the field” to QuAC and sent it to the group through Traci,” said Walter, who is now Haverford’s Director of Quaker Affairs.  “She was totally surprised and wondered who this crazy guy was being so forward and clueless about the true nature of our connection.”

Indeed, when Walter arrived back on campus, Traci immediately confronted him to ask about his intention behind sending her the email.  Walter says he was so nervous that he sought Traci’s best friend for advice, whom he then dated for three years.  Walter and Traci remained friends, however, and when they decided to make the switch from peers to partners in 1984, “most of [our friend group] was completely unimpressed, having assumed that we had been lovers for years. ”

Walter and Traci have now been married for 28 years.

According to Cathy, she and Jim first met tossing a lacrosse ball on Lloyd Green.  Jim contends, however, that they met earlier through a mutual friend, who happened to be Cathy’s boyfriend at the time.

“Cathy doesn’t remember that meeting,” Jim smiled. “But I do.”

What most Haverford married couples can agree on, however, is that many of the same qualities that first attracted them to the college are also the qualities that attracted them to their spouses.

“Much of what I loved about Haverford – not pretentious, not materialistic, good-hearted, well-meaning, and thoughtful – is true about Jenny,” remarked Marty Lipman ’81.  “I was grateful to have gone to Haverford before I married Jenny–you can imagine how grateful I am to the college now!”

 

Modern Day Haver-love

And for some current Haverfordians seeking love this Valentine’s Day season, blending romance with Quaker roots still proves a winning combination.

“The other night, my girlfriend was planning on going out with some of her friends,” said a current Haverford student, who wished to remain anonymous.

“So then I asked her, ‘Do you want to go out with your friends, or stay here and practice some mutual trust, concern, and respect with me?’ She stayed.”

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