Then and now: How'd they meet, how'd they mate?



Whether married for five years or 50, the couples on the following pages still have the spark that first brought them together.


Jane and Pat Foy

October 3, 1998

 Love can find you in mundane places. That's the lesson Jane and Pat Foy learned.

"We met at a big meeting in Pittsburgh where committees were being formed for a fundraiser," says Jane, co-host of talk-radio stations WINA's morning show, adding that the two didn't begin dating for several years.

After about six months in love with Jane, Pat, an avid fox-hunter, visited Virginia and fell in love with the countryside. The pair moved to Middleburg where they ran a steak restaurant called Reynard's Grill and Hunt Country Inn. One night, as they stood by the door waiting for their first patrons to arrive, Pat popped the question.

"He looked at me and said, 'I'd really like you to be my wife, and I'd like you to think about that,'" Jane recalls. "It was really cute."

Proposal accepted, Jane and Pat married at Jane's sister's home in Ohio.

"We decided, 'Let's inconvenience everybody equally,'" Jane laughs.

Though their honeymoon in Key West was nearly ruined by Hurricane Georges, which had swept through days before their arrival, Jane says the newlyweds eventually made it down from Miami and came home with a special souvenir: 85 pounds of wood from a famous banyan tree on Ernest Hemingway's Key West property.

"We still have it," laughs Jane. "We just don't know what to do with it."


Anne and Sean O'Brien

May 8, 1993

 The O'Briens met as grad students in UVA's environmental science department in 1989, but if first impressions had prevailed, they might never have dated.

"I spotted him, but I thought he was terrible," recalls Anne, who believed Sean– now the executive director of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership at UVA– was "cocky" and in possession of a "cool and beautiful girlfriend."

In fact, says Sean, neither was the case: he was simply shy.

A year ahead of him in the program, Anne was the "experienced hot graduate student in the environmental science department," he says. "She was very intimidating to a new guy coming in."

Fortunately, fate, in the guise of friends, stepped in.

"Two of our friends decided they should set us up," says Anne. "After several failed starts, we did go on a date," she adds, and it didn't take long for them to know they'd be sticking together.

The following summer, Anne decided to join Sean on a trip to Alaska. The two stayed in a tent for two months– with no access to bathing facilities. "It was beautiful to be in Glacier Bay," says Anne, adding wryly, "and a good way to get to know someone."

A year later, Sean proposed, and Anne accepted.

More than a dozen years later, Anne says she's glad she didn't stick with her first impression.

"He's as nice as he seems, but funny too," she says. "And that's important."


Paul and Mary Gaston

June 29, 1952

 Though a mutual friend had suggested that Paul meet Mary when they were both students at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Paul says he would have spotted Mary on his own at a dance: she was on a date with his roommate.

Gaston describes Mary as "soft, intriguing, enigmatic, quietly beautiful, and irresistibly entrancing." It's no surprise, then, that he cut in on his roommate.

Later that night, Gaston says, he asked his roommate whether he'd enjoyed his date with Mary.

"Oh, yes, very much," said the roommate. "Well, I'm glad you did," Gaston reports he replied, "because it was your last." And, he notes triumphantly, "It was."

There are two sides to every story, and Mary says their meeting wasn't quite so dramatic. In fact, she says, the two met in the Swarthmore library, and although she wasn't immediately impressed with young Gaston, they began dating a short while afterward.

"Did [Paul] tell you about all the women who came up and warned me he was too fast?" she laughs. "I said, 'I'm an English minister's daughter, and I can cool anyone down.'"

Though they may disagree on their meeting, the pair can agree that it was a fortuitous event.

And as for Gaston's seemingly luckless roommate? That story has a happy ending, too.

"He married Mary's roommate Marquita," Gaston laughs.


Eugene and Lorraine Williams

August 14, 1949

 From their stately home high up on Ridge Street, Eugene and Lorraine Williams can look out over much of Charlottesville, a city they've watched experience momentous changes over the course of their 56-year marriage.

Now 78, Eugene says the Charlottesville of his youth was a vastly different place. His childhood home on Dice Street lacked indoor plumbing, and segregation permeated every aspect of life.

Lorraine, now 80, lived near Ivy at Mechum's River, but the nearest school for black students was more than three miles away– a brutal walk even in good weather, and buses provided rides only to white students. Eventually, Lorraine's parents sent their daughter to live with her aunt and uncle on Hartman's Mill Road off Ridge Street in Charlottesville so she could attend Jefferson School on Fourth Street.

Lorraine soon had an admirer.

"She walked past my street every day on the way to the Jefferson School," says Eugene, who made sure he was at the corner of Dice and Ridge so he could walk with her.

In the late 1940s, blacks attended the Jefferson School, though the Midway High School was closer to Williams' home. Watching white students riding by on buses is a painful memory, Eugene says, but one that should never be forgotten.

"It's important to remember the way things were back then," he says.

After graduating from high school– Eugene in 1944, Lorraine in 1945– the pair parted ways for college. Eugene went to Southern University in Baton Rouge, and Lorraine attended the Hampton Institute, now Hampton University. But despite the distance, they never lost touch. During an 18-month-stint in the army, Williams was stationed at Fort Eustis, just down the road from Lorraine.

"That," says Eugene, "is when things got serious."

Following Lorraine's 1949 graduation, the pair married at Lorraine's aunt and uncle's house on Hartman's Mill Road.

They briefly moved away– to Chicago and to Baton Rouge, where Eugene finished his degree– but they came back to Charlottesville in 1953, in time to make history.

In 1956,the Williams were one of the African American families who filed suit to force Charlottesville schools to integrate. Eugene remains an outspoken civil rights activist.


David Toscano and Nancy Tramontin

July 30, 1977

 Perhaps there was something in the wedding punch on July 30, 1977 at 11am, something that would drive young grooms to pursue careers in politics many years later. How else to explain this coincidence?

"My wife and I were married on the exact same date and the exact hour that Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards and his wife were married," says Toscano, a Democrat who was elected to Mitch Van Yahres' 57th District seat in November.

Toscano met Tramontin, now UVA's webmaster, when both were students at Boston College in 1974. Working toward his PhD in sociology, Toscano was a teaching assistant in an undergraduate anthropology class that Tramontin was taking.

"I thought she was just the most beautiful and smartest person I'd ever met," he recalls, "but I wasn't sure if she felt the same.

"It took a while," Toscano says, but eventually the two started dating, and in 1977 they married in a Catholic church in Elmira, New York.

"It rained up to when we got to the church," Toscano says, "and then the sun came out."