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Meeting Their Matches

Alumni share their stories of finding true love on campus.

Cal Lutheran must have its own Cupid who has been hanging around for decades, because we’ve heard plenty of stories of couples who have fallen in love under the shadow of Enormous Luther. When we asked alumni who met their spouses here to share their stories, more than a couple of couples obliged.

Here are a few of those tales of Cal Lutheran courtship, brought to us (perhaps) by that diaper-clad little boy.

Ariana (Sanchez ’17) Chavez and Daniel (Danny) Chavez ’18

I met my husband Daniel (Danny) Chavez during our undergrad years at Cal Lutheran. Danny and I were first introduced to each other through Student Support Services (SSS), a program for first-generation students. I attended their summer pre-orientation program during the summer of 2015 when Danny, who was an RA at the time, was on a student panel, answering questions for incoming or transferring students (I was transferring in from a junior college). The following year, Danny asked me if I wanted to meet up for In-N-Out, and we’ve been together since. We got married Aug. 12, 2023, at Rancho de Las Palmas in Moorpark, not far from where we first met and where our story started.

Karen (Person ’69) Jackson and Jeffrey Jackson ’69

Jeff and I met our freshman year (1965) when he valiantly rescued me from a fierce squirt-gun ambush while I was walking through the Mount Clef lobby on my way to dinner at the cafeteria. He has ever since been my “Rescue Ranger.” He later admitted that he’d had his eye on me since noticing my typically late arrivals at our 7:30 a.m. Western Civilization class held at Trinity Lutheran Church (I was commuting from home my first year). We were married the summer of our junior year. My bridesmaids were my roommates, Cate (Lundring ’69) Hillard, Gloria (Jensen ’69) Ward and Patti David Rogness. Two of Jeff’s groomsmen from California Lutheran College were Bob Skipper ’69 and Lonnie Anderson. We finished up our last year at CLU living in McAfee apartments overlooking the practice fields and sharing meals in our mutual poverty with fellow married students, Bob and Eileen (Ferkel ’69) Skipper, and Margie (Goforth ’70) Stokes and William “Bill” ’69 Stokes.

Jennifer Augeson and Chad Augeson ’91

We met during J-term at CLU in 1991. I was attending Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota, where it’s so cold in January! My roommate and I decided to do a J-term somewhere warm, landed on CLU and headed West. On the first day of class, we learned the course we registered for had a prerequisite requirement, and there was only one remaining class open. The next day in that new class, a guy introduced himself to us, and my roommate said she knew him from her small town in Minnesota! We quickly became best friends through the rest of the month. I finished school in Gustavus and accepted an internship in Southern California. It was a way to test out the company, and the boyfriend. The internship turned into a job, and the boyfriend turned into a fiancé. My husband told me when we met that he would never move back to Minnesota, but here we are! We just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. I had to go 2,000 miles away to meet someone from Minnesota. Gustavus may be where I got my bachelor’s degree, but CLU is where I got my Mrs. degree.

Brian Malison ’81 and Leanne (Bosch ’81) Malison

From a Sadie Hawkins Dance invitation, [I] reluctantly said yes to Leanne Bosch, which was followed by two years of dating, clandestine swings from the Nygreen Hall flagpole ropes, countless late-night “study sessions,” tackle football in Kingsmen Park … and a marriage proposal while sitting on a curb over a sewer on Olsen Road. One week after graduation in 1981, [we] were married, officiated by the Rev. Gerry Swanson. And it stuck.

Kevin McKenzie ’79 and Lorrie (Bursvold ’81) McKenzie

Lorrie Bursvold and I met when I … stole her car. While she and her roommate were in our dorm room at West End pranking my roommate, I got her car keys and proceeded to drive her car around campus for several days, honking and waving as I passed her on the way to and from the cafeteria — in the rain. As introductions go, memorable, but not exactly magical. Still, we got to know each other, became friends and she forgave me — I think. We’ve been together for 45 years now, married in 1983, celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary this summer and have raised two adopted boys. Sometimes crime does pay!

Andrea (Whisler ’16) Davidson and Nathan Davidson ’16

Ten years ago, Nathan Davidson and I were side by side. … He was the shy, quiet, terrified-looking guy next to the only open seat left in our Communications class freshman year. I remember it vividly — the “Oh my god someone get me out of this class look” in his eyes as I sat down and introduced myself, followed quickly by, “Don’t worry, I don’t bite.” And maybe our professor was on to us way back then, before we ever exchanged numbers, made all kinds of plans, or talked to friends and family about one another — because he put Nathan and I into a group project together, and even now, 10 years later, I don’t think our group project has ever really come to an end. If anything, it’s just now begun; this time, of course, with the same last name in the credits.

Debbie (Feczko ’85) Cooney and Tom Cooney ’82

[We] met on the Cal Lu campus while Tom was working for the Dallas Cowboys and Debbie was an incoming freshman. Tom played football for Cal Lu for two years. [We] were married in Thousand Oaks on June 14, 1986, and have one daughter, Meghan, who graduated [from] Dartmouth College and now owns and operates two Bar Method fitness studios. [We] currently live in Martinez, California, and are both enjoying semi-retirement.

Hilary (Sieker ’02) Wirkkala and David Wirkkala ’02

David and I met on a plane headed to Pres Scholarship weekend in 1998. I recognized his CLU bag tag, and thanks to Cal Lu … choosing Southwest, we could pick seats next to each other. Both nervous and excited 17-year-olds trying for our shot at the school of our dreams, we connected, and I knew then he would eventually be my forever. Our “best-friend” status lasted until Christmas break, and we’ve been together since. Ironically, we met five other people at Pres Scholar weekend who would become part of our wedding party, [and] even snapped a picture that weekend that included three of them. I talked this sports-focused, never-been-on-a-stage boy into being my dance partner in West Side Story, where he had to dye his blond hair jet black, and he talked me into playing intramural soccer, where I believe we lost every game… CLU is a place of abundant opportunities, a place that challenged us, gave direction for our careers, continually grounds us, and is the foundation of our love story. We named our first-born Callie after our affection for CLU, where our story together all began.

Rhonda Holmen ’81 and the Rev. Franklyn Espegren ’82, MDiv ’00

As a 24-year-old senior I was rather surprised to find myself assigned to the freshman dorm, Pederson Hall. I had four 18-year-old roommates who jokingly called me Mom. My now husband, Frank Espegren, was a junior and the RA in that freshman dorm. When he helped lead the orientation meeting, wearing bib overalls [and] no shirt, and carrying a wooden rifle for emphasis, I did notice his California bleached-blond hair and thought, “Hmmm, not bad.” He apparently was not intimidated by my “older woman” status and during the year we developed a pretty serious relationship in spite of our age difference (he was very mature). But without a student visa after graduation, I had to return home to Canada. The next four years were more off than on as Frank finished at Cal Lu [and] pursued a law degree, and I worked at a TV station in Calgary. Fate brought us back together all those years later for less than 24 hours. That’s all it took to reignite the flame. We overcame the immigration issue and were married eight months later. It’s an improbable story. If I hadn’t been so oddly placed in a freshman dorm, if he hadn’t been an RA, if either of us had found someone else during the years apart, we would not be together. I came to Cal Lu to finish my degree and launch my career, but I received a bonus Mrs. degree, proving that life is funny … or God is.

Dan Stromstad ’69 and Gail (Knudson ’69) Stromstad

Gail Knudson and I met at a St. Patrick’s Day dance. She was there dancing with another guy, and he left her for a few minutes. I asked her to dance and ended up walking her back to the dorm. That was the beginning of our relationship. We were married on Sept. 7, 1968, just before our senior year began. We began our family three years later. We had two sons, three years apart. … Gail and I opened an optical store 36 years ago. We were married for just over 53 years. Gail passed away from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 18, 2021. I continue to have my business here in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Teresa (Motta ’17) Blank and Kevin Blank ’17

Kevin and I met the first week of moving in (in 2013); he lived in the dorm below mine and our friends hung out together. This year we celebrated 10 years being together and five years married. We welcomed our beautiful daughter in 2021.

Wendy Weir-Olson ’89, MPPA ’11, and Jonathan Olson

My story is not a direct route of meeting my husband at CLU, but because of attending CLU. In my undergraduate years I was a first-generation commuter student finding my way around the college world on my own. Luckily, with some guidance from faculty in communications, I followed that degree path. One of those classes led me to a longtime friendship with a fellow alum, Barbara Stanifer ’89. She invited me to a Christmas party in 1988 to meet a friend she thought I would like. Funny story, that match didn’t happen, but I did meet another one of her high school friends that night, who pursued me, and we have been married for 32 years. We had our ceremony at CLU in 1991, and I believe we were the second couple married in [Samuelson] Chapel after it opened. The Rev. Dr. Ernest Fred Tonsing married my husband, Jonathan Olson, and me on Aug. 10, 1991, with the pipe organ playing and the sun shining through the stained-glass windows. It was a joyous moment to get married in a Lutheran chapel, as Jon’s family is Lutheran … The story didn’t end there. We renewed our wedding vows at the Samuelson Chapel for our 20-year anniversary. It was a special moment, as our good family friend, Barbara Stanifer, was the officiator of the ceremony. And it all started with CLU.

Don Hossler ’71 and Carol-Anne (Hughes ’72) Hossler MA ’82

DH: I first noticed Carol-Anne Hughes … as we entered the Little Theatre for a 7:40 religion class. I still remember wondering, who’s that cute-looking tall girl?

CAH: I saw Don in … class, but he came in with three other tall guys wearing letterman jackets, and although he was tall, I had no interest. I was not into jocks. In January 1969 we both … interviewed for the same job as … lunch supervisors at nearby Madrona Elementary School. He interviewed first and I was sure he was going to get the job I wanted. As luck would have it, we both got hired.

DH: We carpooled together to work and became friends; we were dating other people. As we drove down Lynn Road, we talked about our future hopes and dreams, and I realized that I liked this girl; I like her a lot. I must have told my friend Mike Riley because at some point his girlfriend, Melinda Millerman, and her friend, Chris Hirahara, let Carol-Anne know that I was interested in her. When Melinda and Chris heard that Carol-Anne’s previous relationship had fizzled, they told her to call me. She called and said, “I just need someone to talk to.” We have done just that, for 54 years of friendship, love and marriage, and as parents to three sons.

CAH: And throughout our history we have said to each other, “I am so glad I met you at CLU.”

Ashur Givargis ’95 and Brenda (Goral ’95) Givargis

Brenda Goral and I met at California Lutheran University in 1993. I was enrolled in a philosophy class that I utterly loathed after just one day. So I made my way over to the registrar’s office to drop it. The registrar told me … there was only one science class left and it was biology. … On my first day … I looked around, feeling a little embarrassed, and there was a cute blond sitting one row behind me in the auditorium-style classroom. … [S]he moved her book over so I could see it. I thought to myself, this a nice person, someone I’d like to get to know. … After a very short time … we started hanging out together. … Our main hangout spot was Carl’s Jr. just down the road. … We shared stories and talked about our families. I’m a first-generation American. … My father was from Iran. My mother was from France. Brenda’s family was from Michigan, of German and Polish descent. We were two worlds apart that were now converging. She had to get familiar with outdated customs from my father’s side, and I had to get to know a full-blooded American girl from Simi Valley. … [O]ne day at Carl’s Jr., I made it clear … I didn’t want a girlfriend. Days later, she asked if I wanted to go out to Griffith Observatory on a Friday night. … That same night we had our first kiss. Our connection seemed flawless and natural. I’ve always believed that friendship should come before infatuation and love. … Right after graduation, I planned a trip to the Magic Castle in Hollywood. I had a connection, and he was also a limo driver. … During one of the tricks, he made Brenda’s engagement ring appear out of thin air. I got on one knee and asked her to marry me. … After that night, we started planning our wedding, and what better place than where we met, at California Lutheran University. The chapel was beautiful, and because we were students, it was free. … On July 4, 1998, we were married. Thanks to not having any classes but biology, we are 25 years strong.