Sweetheart Couples at Montclair State

Sometimes, in addition to getting a great education at Montclair State, students find something else: true love! So during this season of Valentine’s Day, we wanted to share some sweetheart couple stories. And we’d love to hear yours too! Please send your story to mastersonnen@mail.montclair.edu. For more alumni couples’ stories please go to www.montclair.edu/alumni/pride/unions.html. To make a gift to your alma mater in honor of your sweetheart, go to montclair.edu/giving.

Edward ’51 ’56 MA and Jean ’50 ’60 MA Trotta Cooper: It All Started with a Broken Necklace
When Jean Trotta’s necklace broke in the middle of Professor Elizabeth Van Derveer’s Selling class at Montclair State Teachers College in the summer of 1948, sending beads flying all across the floor, little did she know that her life was about to change forever. Classmate Ed Cooper helped her gather the beads and a lifelong love began. The Coopers were married for 57 years, until Ed passed away in 2009. Jean is still passionate about Montclair State. Needless to say, one of her favorite professors was Dr. Van Derveer! Edward and Jean loved Montclair State and wanted to support education and future teachers. The couple made a planned gift to endow the Edward and Jean Cooper Teacher Training Scholarship. Jean attended Montclair State on a scholarship sponsored by the Lyndhurst PTA and wants to give back to future generations of students. 

Alyson Thelin Davison ’02 ’04 MA and James ’03 ’09 MA Davison: From the Name Game to True Love
Alyson and James first met at the freshman Honors Program orientation before they were even formally students at Montclair State. Jim later proposed in the quad, under the same tree where they met on that June day and played the Name Game with their fellow Honors Program students. “We’ve had nothing but good memories here and think very highly of the school,” says Alyson. Both were active on campus. Jim worked at The Montclarion, where he served in several editorial positions, culminating in editor in chief his senior year. Alyson played a leadership role in Lambda Pi Eta, the honor society for communication majors, and also at The Montclarion. Alyson has fond memories of Jim, a Freeman Hall resident, cooking dinners for her on the hallway stove so that she wouldn’t have to go home to Clifton between classes. He still does all of the family’s cooking. Montclair State is definitely a family affair for the Davisons: Alyson’s grandmother Nella DeGroot Hoving ‘35 was an alumna, as was her great aunt, Clara DeGroot ‘33. Nella was introduced to her future husband, Alyson’s grandfather Herman Hoving, by her dear friend and classmate Charlotte Hoving Los ‘34, Herman’s younger sister, who later became her sister-in-law. Alyson’s sister, Alexandra Thelin ’05 ’08 MA and Jim’s brother Casey Davison ’02 are also proud alumni. Perhaps Alyson and Jim’s son, two-year-old Andrew, will continue the family tradition as a member of the Class of 2032!

Dr. William ’59 ’64 MA and Marie ’60 Cerefice DeLorenzo: A Change in Minor Leads to a Soul Mate
If William DeLorenzo hadn’t switched his minor at Montclair State, he probably would not have met his future wife, Marie. Bill was a Spanish major. He minored in business his first two years at Montclair State, but decided to make a change to speech and drama in his junior year. Bill had to get special permission from Dean Clyde M. Huber to make up the extra credits. Fortunately, one of Bill’s campus jobs was working as an assistant to the dean’s secretary, Marie Frazee-Balassarre ’43 ’46 MA, and she got him a meeting with the dean to plead his case. The dean approved Bill’s request to take 19 credits, and Bill says that it wound up being his best semester at Montclair State.  Marie Cerefice was a speech and drama major specializing in speech science, and very involved in the department’s activities. Bill met Marie in his senior year in a class taught by Professor L. Howard Fox. Marie remembered him from when he played Homer in “By the Skin of Our Teeth” and she was the stage manager. Bill invited Marie, a junior, to his Senior Prom and the senior boat ride up the Hudson, and the two have been a happy couple ever since.

Thomas Giordano ’47 Panzer and Berenice Muncy Giordano ’45 Panzer: A Crabapple Sparks a Romance
Thomas and Berenice Giordano are both Panzer College of Physical Education and Hygiene alumni. They first met when he was a soccer goalie and she was playing field hockey on the next field. A wayward puck landed on the soccer field. Thomas threw it back, noticed Berenice, and threw a crabapple in her direction for good measure, and it landed near her. The two enjoyed going out together with groups of Panzer friends, as was the custom in those days, and later became a couple. Berenice and Thomas married on October 26, 1947. They have been married for 64 years and have two children, Gail Przeclawski and Gene Giordano, two grandsons, Sean and Keith, and two great-grandsons, Nathan and Sebastian. The Giordanos live in Amityville, New York, and spend a lot of time in Orlando, Florida, where their daughter, Gail, and her family live.

Dr. Donald ’51 ’56 MA and Audrey’71 MA Korsak Gregg: “Dynamics of Group Process” Leads to a Lifelong Partnership
Donald Gregg loved being a student at Montclair State and later became a professor at his alma mater, teaching in the Counseling and Human Services Department for 37 years. Audrey Korsak came to Montclair State as a graduate student. “I loved it there from the first time I walked thought the gate,” she shares. Don and Audrey first met when she was a student in his Dynamics of Group Process graduate class. It was a large class, with about 50 students; Audrey was highly recommended to him by his colleague Dr. Arlene King as an outstanding student. Although the two did not become romantically involved until after Audrey was no longer his student, they immediately connected on a professional level. Audrey, a guidance major, remembers that she “had an incredible experience in class. It changed the whole course of my life. I learned how to be a counselor and how to live life.” The Greggs have been together for almost 40 years and married for 25 years, and Don says that their relationship “is still fresh to us each day.” Audrey adds that, “There is a huge place for Montclair State in our hearts. We appreciate and respect what Montclair State gave us: a wonderful, fulfilling education that led to a life of helping people.”

William ’58 and Katherine ‘59 Liess: The AV Center Opens the Door to Romance
William Liess met his future wife Katherine when both worked in the Audio Visual (AV) Center in the basement of College Hall (then the Administration and Classroom Building) with Professors Emma Fantone and Ted Sheft. Bill was a social studies major and Katherine was a Spanish major. They both worked there together throughout their college years. “It was a small school and everyone got to know each other,” Bill recalls fondly of his student days. Bill remembers the Russ Hall dining room, where “We all ate together, with dinner served promptly at 6 p.m. with table service and nice tablecloths.” Bill was a founding member of the Tau Sigma Delta fraternity, and Katherine was in a sorority; there were many social events on campus. “I received an excellent education that resulted in my receiving a graduate assistantship to Syracuse University upon graduation,” Bill adds. He spent his entire 43-year career in the Clifton Public Schools, starting as a teacher at the high school and working his way up to Superintendent, where he served for 17 years. “I owe it all to the start I received at Montclair State,” he says proudly. His and Katherine’s granddaughter Kaitlin Schweighardt is now a freshman at Montclair State, studying to be a school psychologist.

Stewart ’82 and Judy Echeveria Linder ’83: Speech Class Sparks a Love Connection
Judy Echeveria and Stewart Linder met in a speech class when Judy was a freshman and Stewart a sophomore, and the two became friends, with romance to blossom later. Even though Judy was a history major and Stewart a business administration major with a concentration in accounting, they found that they had much in common, and they dated throughout most of their years on campus. Their first date was to a Yankee game. “We are still big Yankee fans and Montclair State fans,” Stewart says proudly. “My time at Montclair State was among the best years of my life,” says Judy. “College was everything I thought it would be.” Judy and Stewart were both were very involved on campus, including in the Council on International and National Affairs and the Student Government Association.  Now married for 27 years, the Linders have two daughters, Emily and Jessica. They are loyal donors to the University’s Annual Fund and attend campus events whenever they can. Their sisters, Marianne Echeveria Maloney ‘80 and Deborah Linder ‘76, are also proud Montclair State alumnae.

Protase E. ’57 ’62 MA and Sally Ayers Woodford: Always Listen to Your Housemother
If Protase E. “Woody” Woodford hadn’t won the Margaret B. Holz Scholarship and spent a year studying in Spain, he would not have met his future wife, Sally Ayers. Woody, a Spanish major, returned to campus in the fall of 1956 for his senior year. Sally came to Montclair State that year in a special nursing work study program, where nurses took classes and worked a number of hours in the school infirmary. At that time, the school only had one staff nurse, Major Pritchard, who was in charge of the nursing staff, who all wore starched white nursing attire. “I was a sucker for the uniform,” jokes Woody, who noticed Sally right away. “She caught my eye, but she was all business,” he adds. One evening before dinner, Woody was sitting with his friends, all in their requisite jackets and ties, outside the Russ Hall dining room. He saw Sally approaching across the campus and thought of an unusual way to get her attention. He pretended to be having a seizure, and his friends called “Miss Ayers, please help!” “Sally came over, took one look, and said nothing was wrong with me,” Woody recalls with a smile. “Then the nice housemothers, Mrs. Conrad, Mrs. Fennan, and Mrs. Mead, intervened and told her that they knew me and that I was a nice boy.” They persuaded Sally to give Woody a chance, and the two have been a happy couple every since. Woody and Sally got married in 1960. For their honeymoon, they spent the summer in Spain. They go back to Spain almost every year.

Reader Submissions:

"While attending MSU from fall '94 - fall '98, I was the Music Director and on-air DJ at the university's radio station 90.3 WMSC. One afternoon during my show in January '97, the Program Director came in and told me that she was pairing me with a new apprentice for a few weeks to start  the spring semester. I moaned and groaned (half-kidding) for a few seconds, since having an apprentice was a slight distraction and meant slowing down the show a little bit. Then the Program Director mentioned  that the apprentice was a really pretty girl. I paused for second and said, "Oh, ok I guess it would be cool if you pair us up." She said the girl's name was Tara Keating and that she was going to start on my show next week. Just before my show started the following week, a girl comes into the station and introduces herself to me as Tara Keating, my new apprentice. She wasn't just pretty, she was stunning. We started talking during the show and realized that we had a lot of similar musical interests. We instantly hit it off and became friends. Over the next few weeks we started trading mix (cassette) tapes and hanging out more in general. After a few weeks apprenticing on my show, Tara took her on-air test, became a DJ and got her own show. We would do guest spots on each other's shows and I got Tara to join the Music Department at the station. We remained friends for a year, but decided to take our relationship to the next level at the start of the Spring '98 semester. We started dating in February '98 and we've been together ever since. I graduated in Fall '98 and Tara graduated in Spring '99, but we both walked in the Spring '99 ceremony. We married in November 2004 and had a baby girl named Annie in May 2007. Tara and I still return to MSU every May to do our radio show for WMSC's Alumni Week. We're so happy that the station does Alumni Week. It's one of the things we both look forward to
every year! We brought our daughter Annie to see WMSC when we did our Alumni show in 2010 to show her where we met."

Thanks for letting us share our story.
-Matt Horutz ’98