University Communications

USI couples: lessons in love

February 10, 2014 | Angela O'Nan
Angela O'Nan
Administrative Associate University Communications 812-465-7005
Article Photo
Dr. Steve Williams and Dr. Ronda Priest share a tender moment.
Photo Credit: Submitted

With Valentine’s Day approaching, love is in the air. For some couples at USI, love may be just across campus or perhaps a few offices away. Some of them steal away for a quiet lunch together, and for some working on the same campus is no different than working apart since their paths rarely meet. They have graciously taken the time to share a little piece of their story and the secrets of a successful relationship. Here’s a glimpse at a few lovebirds that call USI their home away from home.

Dr. Ronda Priest (chair and associate professor of sociology) and Dr. Steve Williams (associate professor of sociology)

Ronda And Steve 2

How long have you been together?

SW: We have been together since November of 2000, so a little over 13 years.

If married, when did you get married?

RP: Getting married June 28! I cannot wait!

How did you meet?

RP: I was on the hiring committee, Steve was interviewing.

What about the other caught your attention?

RP: It was not "love" at first sight for me, but it was friendship at first sight. Steve has a slightly crooked smile that makes it look like he is up to something. I also caught him (during the interview) slightly dancing/moving.  I found this man always has a song in his head.

SW: I noticed her attractiveness, intelligence, and good taste in music very quickly.

What made you fall in love with him/her?

RP: He is considerate of others, outgoing, smart, interesting, loves to laugh.  But mostly, I am simply a better person with him.

SW: So many different “little” things that just added up – her intelligence, sense of humor, her love of music, her attachment and kindness to animals, her liberal politics, her love of the same sports I love, her sincerity in cheering for Team Canada in the Olympics, her self-reliance, her ability to operate a chain saw in the morning and wear a beautiful gown in the evening. 

What has kept you together?

RP: We share a lot of interests, but we have our own identities. We each have separate hobbies/strengths that are respected and supported. When together face-to-face, we are also psychologically present with each other. 

SW: Our large similarities and small differences. Her wonderful understanding and acceptance of who I am. Her outward strength combined with the private vulnerabilities that only I know. Her amazing ability to know exactly how much “space” we both need.

What’s it like working on the same campus together?

RP: It was a bit more of a struggle for me than Steve. As the department chair, I refused to evaluate him in any capacity. It was something I had to remind a few people about throughout the years. 

SW: It’s actually great. I’ve never felt like we see too much of each other by living and working together since we actually don’t spend much time in each other’s company on campus.

What makes a relationship successful?

RP: I do my best to listen to him.  I consider him even when we are not together.  We love to travel, and travel well together.  We share the same life goals and practices.  We do not yell at each other.  I do not make fun/tease/or complain about him to others.

SW: Developing your sense of empathy - asking yourself how the other person feels –is near the top of the list. You won’t spend every minute of a long-term relationship in some sort of Disney/unicorn/rainbow stupor of glee, but if you genuinely enjoy the other person’s company in a variety of settings, then I’d say the relationship is likely to be successful. 

Gary (construction administrator for Facilities Operations and Planning) and Carol Burgdorf (senior administrative assistant in Public Safety)

Gary And Carol Burgdorf

How long have you been together?

CB: Gary and I will be married 36 years in Feb.

GB: She was 16 and I was 17 when we started dating. We dated five years. Our first date was on the 4th of July and we watched fireworks from a river camp.

If married, when did you get married?

GB: We were married February 18th 1978.

How did you meet?

CB: I was dating Gary's best friend, who introduced us.

What about the other caught your attention?

GB: I was at first attracted by her good looks and our commonalities.

CB: My attraction to Gary was his personality. He is funny, smart, and loves to travel. And he had a car!

What made you fall in love with him/her?

GB: She is very smart, talented, and generally exhibits great patience with me. She keeps me focused on the important things.

CB: Gary always makes me laugh.

What has kept you together?

GB: Her common sense, abilities, and sense of family. We built our own home and raised two successful children.

CB: Saying I love you often, communication, and willingness to work together.

What’s it like working on the same campus together?

GB: It is not too different from working apart.  We know many of the same people but rarely see each other during the day, unless it is about a lost or found item on campus. Our hours are different so we don’t usually ride to work together. There are some advantages to getting information to officers quickly when one of the crews is causing a traffic problem. I have called her cell phone with business when I needed priority.

What makes a relationship successful?

GB: Hard work and perseverance. 

CB: Stay committed to each other. The vows were said for a reason. Marriage has up and downs, but, that is what keeps us going. When things get rough, always remember the good times you have had together, this always helps me through the rough times.  The good times usually outweigh the rough times.

Tom (assistant dean of liberal arts) and Julie Bordelon (senior administrative assistant and student servies coordinator)

(answered as a team)

Julie Tom

How long have you been together?

We have been together for about 34 years.

If married, when did you get married?

We got married August 22, 1981.

How did you meet?

We attended a small state college and knew of each other since about 1977, but didn’t start dating until 1980. Mutual friends thought we would make a good couple and wanted to get us together, but we met on our own when the lights went out in the college library. The library was evacuated and we started talking to each other and found we were both interested in music. Julie sang and played the guitar in a rock band, and I was a music major hoping to become a professional french horn player.

What about the other caught your attention?

It was just a lucky break we met; serendipity…

What made you fall in love with him/her?

How that happened is a mystery neither of us can answer!

What has kept you together?

It seems that the ups and downs of life just bring us closer together.

What’s it like working on the same campus together?

It has worked well for us. For the past five years we work the same hours, so we are able to just take one car to work. Another benefit is that we are able to get to know the people our spouse works with. It has given us both an opportunity to get to know a lot of people on campus.

What makes a relationship successful?

We really enjoy being with each other. We have different viewpoints, opinions, and attitudes about many things, but we hold similar values.  

Dr. Amy Montz (assistant professor of English) Anthony Rintala (instructor in English)

Amyanthony

How long have you been together?

AR: We met during graduate school at Louisiana State University (LSU)in 1999.

If married, when did you get married?

AM: November 27, 2004

How did you meet?

AR: During my first day as an English graduate student at LSU, I snuck out after a meeting and my future wife called me over from where she was holding court with other students.

AM: He was sitting on the wrong bench at LSU!  We had a grad student bench, and I called him over to it. But I noticed him before that, in a big departmental meeting. He had too many things in his pockets—still a trait today, except when he puts everything in my purse—and his book and keys got caught on the desk.

What about the other caught your attention?

AR: Amy has the ability to switch from laser-like focus and resolve to complete wackiness in an instant.  She is a problem-solver to her core, but then she’ll go Grade- A goofy. It’s fascinating.

AM: When he stood up at the departmental meeting after getting his book stuck on the desk, he did this flippant little bow. I thought, “There’s the kind of guy I’d like to know.”

What made you fall in love with him/her?

AR: As a poet, I hate to demystify love, the only answer is that it just happened. The sum totality of her just made more and more sense. I can almost guarantee that it happened in a Greek restaurant, since she introduced me to the cuisine and I couldn’t get enough of it.

AM: We were friends first. That has been instrumental in our relationship.

What has kept you together?

AR: Again, I hate to be blatantly unromantic, but daily effort keeps couples together. If you have the shared goal of not just protecting the marriage, but improving it over time, it takes work. When we got married, older men kept telling me to say, “Yes, dear,” to anything that she said. That seems so gross and self-destructive to a relationship.

AM: Anthony’s my best friend! I can tell him anything, and he does the same.  If you’re not friends with your partner or spouse, I don’t know if a relationship can last.

What’s it like working on the same campus together?

AR: It’s really very nice. Although our offices are only feet away, we still only cross paths a few times.  However, every once in a while—pop!—there she is again at the end of the hall or in the elevator. It’s kind of like having a crush on a co-worker or a classmate, but without the stress.

AM: Fun. We like to get lunch together, or pop by each other’s offices to say hi. It’s easy when we can ride together, too. Saves gas!

What makes a relationship successful?

AM: Friendship and honesty. 

AR: I wish I could tell you about sweet notes left where she can find them or her buying me surprise roses, but a long-term marriage is more like a super-hero team-up. Batman knows Wonder Woman has his back, and they are at their best together, but they don’t exchange Valentine’s Day cards. My Wonder Woman and I will probably end up watching horror movies on the 14th. ♦

 

 

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