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Alumni Couples Kiss and Tell

Campus Romances Alive and Thriving

By Clint Kelly ( | Photo by Matthew Sumi

Julie Matzen Cleveland '97 and Richard Cleveland '99, M.Ed. '05
"The friendship begun in orchestra created a foundation which has faithfully supported us throughout the various storms and changes in life," says Richard Cleveland, who met his wife, Julie, at SPU.

The girl played the violin, the fellow the cello. Because they were seated on opposite sides of the Seattle Pacific University Orchestra, they enjoyed a clear view of one another. As time passed, Julie Matzen'97 and Richard Cleveland'99, M.Ed.'05, found connection in the music and a foundation upon which to build a marriage after graduation and launching their careers.

"We still gaze at each other while playing music," says Richard, who’s been married to Julie for 10 years.

The love story was submitted in response to a greeting card from Seattle Pacific. Alumni couples were invited to share their stories of how they met and how the University brought them together.

Retired teacher and band director Herbert Johnson'59 recounted the moment when he was taken with the sounds of a saxophone quartet warming up for the Student Talent Show. Mary Motley'59 may have been 25 percent of that quartet, but 52 married years later, her heart is 100 percent Herbert’s.

By contrast, upon first meeting, Melody Redstone'84 admits she wasn’t impressed with Peter Kind'84. The curly-haired blond freshman in a Falcon letterman jacket reminded her of the shallow California surfers she grew up around. Fortunately, Peter’s patience prevailed.

Early in the school year, he became her "secret admirer." Melody received daily notes, flowers, or chocolates from the mystery man. The gifts continued for months until, to her dismay, Melody learned that the admirer and the "surfer" were one.

"He just kept hanging around," she says. The day they measured their rooms together for a class project, however, was the day she began to think differently about Peter. They married the summer between their junior and senior years, moved into married housing, and became peer advisors to other married students. The couple has been wedded 27 years and now, says Melody, "my world goes from black and white to color when he walks in the room."

When Chester Hoberg Jr.'86 walked past the lounge in Marston-Watson Hall, Jana Burgess M.A.'84, M.A.'92, allegedly told her roommates, "I’m going to marry that guy." A few weeks later, they went on a Roomies Night Out and won the scavenger hunt at Seattle Center. The prize? A second date to Häagen-Dazs in the U-District. Now 25 years, five kids, three dogs, and "lots of memories later," Jana writes, "We’re still happy to say it all started at Seattle Pacific!"

Did you meet your spouse at Seattle Pacific?

Read more stories — and share yours — right here.




  • Paul (1968) & Karen (1969) Burroughs

    Posted July 3, 2012, at 4:05 p.m.

    I had just left a long relationship and was coming back to SPC to date everyone. I walked into the music building to take a music literature course that I had failed the year before (who knows why). Across the room was this boy who kept staring at me. (According to him, he had asked a music teacher who the pretty girl was -- he had been gone from SPC for two years and had just returned.) I walked over to the seat next to him and asked if someone was sitting there. I was going to find a boy in every class to flirt with. He said "only you." At the end of class he followed me and asked me if I would like to go golfing -- actually just driving range practice -- we went and I tried something new. On that date I told him he needed to get saved. He said he was and then I told him he needed to get Spirit-filled. The next day, he stood up in chapel and told everyone that a friend had told him to get Spirit-filled and that he had stayed up all night experiencing God's love. I was totally embarrassed and thought this guy was over the line. We continued to date and within weeks he came to me and said we had to break up because I wasn't spiritual enough for him.

    This religious sparring went on for two years. We would date, argue about God business and break off. It was obvious to both of us that we were attracted to each other, but we were both very strong personalities and didn't want to give in. After two years, I was dating someone else and this fine young man came to me and asked if I knew Paul Burroughs. I said yes and he said that he had lost me to Paul. I asked what he meant but he walked away. Later, I got a call from Paul. He asked if I had heard about the duel (a three-sport competition). I told him that I had and that I wouldn't marry such silly people. I went home for summer work and by August got a call from Paul who was coming to Calif -- where I lived -- for military reserve.

    He asked if I could meet him and I told him I would bring my mother. We met and had a good time. The following weekend, he decided to come to my home to meet my father. On Sunday we were driving to church with Paul and me in the back seat. Paul asked my father, who was driving, if he could marry me. I'll never forget my father looking in the rear view mirror and mouthing, "Who is this guy?" I gave up the chase, said yes and we got married six months later. We just celebrated 43 years and plan to retire in 2014. We both teach English for the DoD, teaching English to internat'l military officers. We spent 25 years in ministry, then moved over to the DoD. Still ministering ... God is good.

    Ruth Nylund Carlson '67

    Posted February 14, 2012, at 12:33 p.m.

    My college years at SPC (now SPU) were among the happiest of my life! Ralph S. Carlson '68 sat in front of me in Anat/Phys; at dinner at the Commons I learned he was in pre-med. I was in the "original six" nursing students to complete all four years of the BSN program at SPC and thought it would be wonderful to marry a doctor and share the interest of medicine.

    We married during Christmas vacation 1966 and have shared 45 wonderful years together. I retired from my medical case management business a few years ago, but still enjoy my volunteer work in parish nursing. And, yes, after the Army, Ralph did become a PhD and is currently in his 31st year of teaching at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. We are thankful that we met, courted, married, and lived at SPC. God is good!

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