For these couples, a lifetime of adventures, challenges
and togetherness all started at Longwood
by Sabrina Brown | December 3, 2021
“Are you sure you want to go out with someone named Jason on Friday the 13th?”
Her dad was mostly joking, but Friday the 13th in June 2008 turned out to be pretty lucky for Rachel Price ’09 and Jason Wolohan ’08.
They were both in Maryland for the summer. Jason had just graduated from Longwood and was at his first job in Rockville; Rachel was back at home in Salisbury waiting to start her senior year. They’d met at the CHI burning toward the end of the previous spring semester (Jason was a member, and Rachel was a junior banner bearer) so they didn’t have much time to get things going.
Rachel sent Jason a friend request on Facebook, and he accepted, sending a not-very-encouraging message that ended with: “Have a nice summer.”
“I thought I’d never hear from him again,” Rachel said.
But they started messaging back and forth on Facebook, which went on for a couple of months before Rachel took the initiative again and asked for Jason’s phone number.
Finally, she popped the question: Would Jason like to go with her to a baseball game?
A year or so later, there was another important question to be asked. This time, Jason took the initiative, ring box in hand.
Every relationship has its own narrative, punctuated with moments preserved in memory like snapshots, each set against a particular backdrop. For Longwood alumni couples who met while they were students, the backdrop for their earliest memories of each other is the Longwood campus—a chance meeting at the bookstore, a dance, emceeing Oktoberfest in matching Lederhosen.
The narratives for the couples in this story begin on campus but diverge widely from there. In addition to showing what makes a happy marriage, they are proof that, from Longwood, you can go anywhere.
From the tropics to the Arctic
Madeline Warren got married more than 60 years ago, but she keeps her full-length wedding gown cleaned and carefully put away in an upstairs closet. After all, three other brides have worn it since she and Bernard Warren married in June 1958, and you never know when it might be needed again.
The series of events leading to Madeline’s own wedding, held at the Methodist church her cozy little hometown of Scottsville, Virginia, started with a Longwood art class field trip. Bernard, a veteran and one of a handful of young men at Longwood at the time, had a car and was pressed into service to take a carful of his fellow students—all female—to a museum in Richmond. Madeline was the lucky girl who got to sit next to Bernard, and they talked all the way to the museum, aptly named The Valentine.
They married a week after graduation and headed out on their first adventure a few days after that: Bernard had signed on to work at his aunt’s and uncle’s antiques and jewelry business in Guam.
“When I got there, I thought, ‘Whoopee, beach, here I come,” said Madeline, who was 22 at the time, but Bernard’s aunt had another idea for her new niece, who arrived on the North Pacific island with a freshly minted teaching degree in hand.
“She took me down to the local school and introduced me to the principal. I showed him my Virginia teaching certificate and my Longwood degree. He looked at it and said, ‘Longwood College? My brother taught Latin there.’ I was hired immediately,” she added, still amused at that “small world” coincidence decades later.
Her beach time may have taken a hit, but Madeline and Bernard did make the most of their new home, exploring East and Southeast Asia—including Cambodia, Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore—on buying trips for the business. After three years, they pulled up stakes again and took a 180-degree turn to snowy Anchorage, Alaska, where they adjusted their wardrobes and settled into jobs in the local schools. Bernard worked primarily as a principal, and Madeline taught elementary school. They both retired in the 1980s.
They have a son who runs a popular restaurant in Anchorage, and they have enough stories to fill a book.
“Madeline sums up all the years and experience in one simple sentence: “It has been quite a life.”
The secret to their romance? CHI
Our paths crossed many times at Longwood. We had an overlapping group of friends, but we didn’t become close friends until our senior year, when we were both serving in CHI.
Secretly hanging out as CHI members turned into dating and eventually into marriage in 2009. We now have three daughters.
Our experiences at Longwood are not only valuable to each of us individually, but even more so to us as a family as the beginning of our lives together.
Making a lasting impression
The best way to an IT guy’s heart is probably not through a large desktop computer and monitor painted a “nasty bright blue.”
That’s what student IT tech Jeff Smith found when he arrived at Abigail Moseman’s room in [Curry] Hall after receiving a request to connect her printer to the aggressively blue computer.
“I think I made a comment about it,” said Jeff. “It was kind of silly.”
Apparently the impression Abigail made herself was much more positive because the two freshmen developed a close friendship over the next few months. They still vividly remember those early days of their relationship.
“We both joined Delta Sigma Pi [the professional business fraternity]. We were in a lot of classes together, and we worked on a lot of group projects together,” said Jeff, adding that Abigail fulfilled one of the most important qualifications for a good friend. “She laughed at my jokes.”
Abigail remembers thinking, “He was nice-looking and so polite.” She said she “loved being with him,” but not enough to take their relationship to the “romance zone”—or not at first, anyway.
What she did instead was to introduce him to all of her sorority sisters (Abigail is a member of Alpha Delta Pi), and Jeff went out with several of them. For two years, he and Abigail just “hung out and didn’t have that spark yet,” she said.
Finally, it was her father who saw the potential in their friendship.
“My junior year, my father said, ‘You’re always telling your friends to hang out with him. Why do you keep passing him around? I think you’re interested in him, but you just don’t know it yet.’ There was a Delta Sig dance coming up, and my father encouraged me to ask Jeff to take me.”
Turns out father did know best.
“Jeff and I were dancing to ‘Jesse’s Girl,’ and we kissed,” Abigail said. “I remember thinking that was my last first kiss. I felt it.”
When the couple married in November 2002, a large contingent of Jeff’s Greek family headed south from New York and New Jersey for the traditional Greek Orthodox wedding at Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
“It was a big Greek wedding,” said Abigail. “They did the Greek dancing in the circle and everything.”
That was just a little over a year after 9/11, when Abigail had decided she wanted to work for the federal government. “I just felt angry and protective and defensive,” she said. “I wanted to do something that made a difference.”
She ended up being offered a job in human resources at the State Department, and she’s been there ever since. Jeff also works for the State Department as a general service officer.
They’ve been posted overseas together twice—in Frankfurt (2005-06) and in Rome (2011-14). Their older daughter, Elaina, now 17, was along for the Frankfurt assignment, and Charlotte, now 15, joined the family in time to go to Rome.
In 2014, Jeff accepted a yearlong solo assignment in Iraq.
“I arrived just as ISIS was taking over Iraq,” he said. “It was a challenge, and it was serving the mission over there, supporting the work of the military and the diplomats. It gave me a better idea of what’s going on in that part of the world.”
It was also “a little scary,” he said. “We were protected as we had armed security everywhere, but you’re in danger no matter what. You’re in a war zone.”
Both Jeff and Abigail say that their religious faith is a centering element for their family.
“It gives us a guiding purpose in life,” said Jeff, adding that they now attend Purcellville Baptist Church.
“We go to church a lot. We wanted to raise our children in faith,” said Abigail. “Christian music is kind of our jam. The girls and I like to go to concerts together.”
Another overseas assignment may be in store for the couple once their daughters are on their own. Abigail has her eye on New Zealand.
But their ultimate dream jobs are right here in Virginia.
“Our dream is to go back and work at Longwood when we retire,” said Abigail, adding that they returned to campus recently to take Elaina to an admissions open house. “We love it there. It’s like our second home.”
Excitement in the household has been running high since Elaina got word she’d been accepted to Longwood.
“My fingers and toes are crossed,” said Abigail, hoping they’ll soon have another Lancer in the family.
"A full house" as told by Corrine
Jay and I met my freshman year of college through a mutual friend on the men’s basketball team. Jay played on the men’s team, and I was a manager for the women’s team.
We saw each other for the first time in the old D-Hall and then started playing tennis together. In those days the basketball teams traveled together, so we spent a lot of time with the teams and at games.
We dated a year and half before we got engaged the summer before my junior year. We dated another year and a half and got married Jan. 5, 2002, after Jay graduated in December. We settled in Chesterfield, and I commuted to Longwood for my last semester.
We have been in Chesterfield ever since. We both work in Richmond for state and local government in the law enforcement arena, and we have four handsome boys (Jacob, Josiah, Jonah and Nehemiah). God has been good! We are active alumni, participating in alumni events, and mock interviews and etiquette dinners for the business school. We are active in Cloverhill Church and support the foster/adopt community. We love Longwood athletics and hit them up when we can.
The triumph of team spirit
It’s ironic that when Shannon O’Leary met Brian Davis she ended up crying all the way home.
Today they are “Team Davis,” happily married for more than 20 years. But back then, he was an orientation leader who decided the best way to impress a particularly cute freshman in his group was to tease her “mercilessly”—his word—the whole weekend.
Tears were shed on the way home—Shannon remembers telling her mother, “Mom, he was so mean”—but little did she know that Brian really liked her. He’d even made sure he’d get to see her again in the fall by encouraging her to enroll in the same sociology class he knew he’d be taking.
They became really good friends before they started dating in Shannon’s freshman year. By her junior year they were engaged, and, shortly after she graduated, they had a 200-guest wedding in Norfolk with half the invitation list made up of Longwood friends, many from their respective Greek organizations.
But Team Davis’ path to “happily ever after” has had its share of challenges, and even heartbreak.
They lost their first child, Matthew, at 23 weeks to severe hydrocephalus and spina bifida, and had another unsuccessful pregnancy before the birth of their two sons, Jackson, now 15, and Joshua, 12.
“At one point, we said to each other, ‘There’s a really good possibility that it’s going to be just us,” said Shannon. “That was a defining moment in our relationship. We decided we’d just have to be the best ‘us’ we could be.”
Happily their best “us” included parenting after all, with a big helping of scouting and lacrosse. They also are very involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a cause close to their hearts since Josh was diagnosed with Type I diabetes as an infant. “We’ve been to the Rose Garden and got to hear the president speak, and we’ve participated in Congressional events,” said Shannon, who currently works full time in a position she describes as a “Girl Friday” for Swift Creek Elementary in the Chesterfield County Public Schools. Brian is a lead speech pathologist at John Randolph Medical Center in Hopewell.
It’s the children and the adventure of their marriage that they treasure most. “Not travel or extraordinary lives,” Shannon said. “Just the adventures of being together.”
Worth the wait
When Troy Littles arrived back in North Carolina after being deployed for Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he didn’t even stop to change clothes before renting a car and driving through the wee hours of the night to Virginia.
It had been eight years since he and Karen Watson started dating back when they were students at Longwood, and he apparently had finally begun to feel a sense of urgency about their relationship.
After they graduated from Longwood, they had gone about their lives and careers—teaching for Karen, the military for Troy—seeing each other several times a year when Troy was close by, which he often wasn’t, the deployment to the Middle East a perfect example.
“I knew he was back in North Carolina, but I didn’t hear from him,” said Karen, who was teaching in Newport News. “Then I got a knock on my door in the middle of the night. I opened the door, and I got this big hug. I had recently moved, and I remember thinking, ‘How did you find me?’”
In June 1992, they got married at the Langley Air Force Base chapel in Hampton, and they have been on the move ever since.
During his 26 years as an Army intelligence officer, Troy served two tours in Korea, two at Fort Bragg and a tour in England. The three years in England were a great experience for the family, which by then included sons Jonathan and Jarrett, who were elementary school age. “We went to France, Spain, Italy, Scotland. Each year we went to Germany and went skiing,” said Karen. “Culturally it was wonderfully diverse. Our neighbors were from Ireland, Scotland, Uganda, Turks and Caicos, India, and that’s how their school was, too.” Now grown, both sons graduated from the University of Virginia.
The family also has lived in Colorado, where Troy began a career with the Department of Defense after retiring from the Army as a lieutenant colonel, and in the Washington, D.C., area, where he was the COO for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency. The latest move was to Atlanta in August 2021 for Troy’s new job as chief operating officer for the Georgia Tech Research Institute, which last year received nearly $800 million in federal research funding.
He gives Karen a lot of credit for his successful career. “The best thing about our marriage has been her support for me,” he said. “I have moved us all around the country, which, of course, affected her career. No matter where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do, she’s always sacrificed herself for us.”
‘What seems to be the trouble officer?’ as told by David
As freshmen at Longwood, we couldn’t have cars on campus. Since MaryEllen and I had families that lived in the same county, we shared rides home on breaks and occasional weekends.
We got to know each other and started dating in November of our freshman year. While at Longwood, we attended Ambassador dances and ate many meals together in Blackwell Dining Hall.
I proposed to her the day before graduation. I took her to a bench hidden in some small trees on the lawn of the president’s home and got down on one knee. She said yes, but, as we were leaving, campus police rolled up to make sure we weren’t causing any trouble.
We were engaged for a year as we began our teaching careers and were married during the summer of 1996.
The love kindled at Longwood has survived many years, and we are still happily married today. The Longwood tradition continues with our son, who is graduating with a degree in physical education this December, and with our oldest daughter, who is currently a junior psychology major.
Travel time is family time
For most people, the thought of traveling with an infant or a toddler, especially on an airplane, is enough to make them swear off vacations, at least until the kids can carry their own suitcases.
Then there’s Jason and Rachel Wolohan. They had taken their son Ethan, now 2-1/2, on a plane at least eight times before he celebrated his first birthday, and they didn’t slow down much when Garrett came along earlier this year. They went on their first long-haul family trip when Garrett was 4 months old.
Most recently, they loaded up their truck with the requisite mountain of toddler and baby gear and set out on a 10-day excursion to Nashville and the Smoky Mountains.
Travel is the Wolohan way of focusing on family. It started with their honeymoon trip to Jamaica in 2010 and has gathered momentum from there. So far they have visited 10 countries and 23 states.
They even started a travel podcast before the pandemic hit called “Weekend Wolohans,” where they share tips about how to make the most of places they’ve visited as well as some of their adventures as a couple and as parents.
Here’s how they describe the show: “Jason and Rachel aspire to live every day like it’s the weekend. They make the most of life’s little moments. On this podcast, they dive into some of their favorite adventures around the globe, discuss creative date ideas and host guests to share fun travel stories.”
Travel destinations they discuss include several of the Hawaiian Islands; some towns on Cape Cod; Newport/Providence, Rhode Island; Ocean City, Maryland; Farmville, Virginia (wonder why they chose this one!); and Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina.
The 14 episodes can be found anywhere you listen to podcasts.
“When you’re at home, you get sucked into your daily grind,” said Jason, who is associate director of payer programs for DrFirst, a company that provides software solutions to hospitals and physician offices. Rachel is busy with the kids and has a small business providing social media management.
“When we travel, we try our best to disconnect from phones, Internet, email and work,” Jason added. “When our kids are older and look back on traveling, I want them to say, ‘Those vacations were great, and what I liked most about them was that we had each other’s undivided attention.’”
"Small fry, big beginning" as told by Andy
Audrey and I were music majors at Longwood. She graduated in ’79, and I in followed ’80. We’ve shared more than 41 years together.
Currently we enjoy being retired, spending time with our daughter (also a Longwood graduate) and her family, and catching up with old friends who also shared our time at Longwood.
In a recent visit to campus, we relived a memory of one of our first dates together. All we could afford was a small fry and small Coke at the McDonald’s across from what are now Moss and Johns residence halls.
We’re not much richer now, but still very much in love.
Made for TV reality
Most of us are lucky to have even 15 minutes of fame. Lindo and Sandy Gharib have had a full half hour.
They were one of the couples whose nuptials were featured on A Wedding Story, an early TV reality show produced by The Learning Channel (TLC). The Gharibs were the stars of Episode 10 in Season 4, which originally aired in 1997.
Being in the spotlight together on television was actually a natural progression of their experiences at Longwood. They were both RAs, one floor apart, in Tabb Hall; they were orientation leaders for three summers, including serving as co-chairs the summer before their senior year; and they were co-emcees of Oktoberfest their senior year, both decked out in Lederhosen made by Sandy’s mom.
Sandy’s pitch to A Wedding Story focused on the mix of cultures that would be evident at their wedding. “They marketed it as ‘preacher’s daughter marries Lebanese guy,’” she said with a chuckle.
Lindo, who today is a district president for the staffing and consulting firm Robert Half, was born in Lebanon. He came to the U.S. in the third grade to escape the war that was tearing the country apart. “I remember spending days upon days in bomb shelters,” he says of the experience, adding that he easily transitioned to life in America.
He didn’t forget his Lebanese roots, however. The couple’s wedding in June 1997 included a reading in Arabic at the ceremony and belly dancing at the reception. Sandy’s father, who was a United Methodist minister, “walked me down the aisle, and then turned around and married us,” she said.
The show was in reruns for years, and both Sandy and Lindo were surprised by how often they were recognized, including once when they were in Cancun and another time at an Arby’s. “By then we’d had our first daughter,” Sandy said of the Arby’s encounter. “This woman came up to us saying, ‘I knew it. I knew it. I just knew you’d still be together.’”
There was a moment of doubt on Sandy’s part, however, that they would even get engaged.
Her and Lindo’s talks about the future had advanced to what kind of honeymoon trip they’d take. With a cruise as a possibility—and Sandy’s concern that she’d get seasick—they decided to do a test run on a dinner cruise around the Potomac harbor and have lunch the next day with Lindo’s parents.
“She thought I was going to pop the question while we were on the cruise. I knew she’d be expecting it then, so I didn’t want to do it,” said Lindo, exposing the mischievous side of his personality and how well he knew Sandy.
“I told everyone, ‘This is it,’” she said. “We went through the whole dinner and dancing, with no proposal.” Back in their hotel room after the cruise, Sandy said she was “a crazy woman. I was looking in his pockets. I thought he’d stuck the ring in a can of peanuts.” She went to sleep, the ring finger of her left hand still empty.
“I was really upset, and he knew,” she said. “My eyelids were swollen from crying myself to sleep.”
The lunch with his parents came and went, and then Lindo drove her back to Harrisonburg. In a “foul mood” by now, she went inside her townhouse and almost immediately got a call from her roommate, who was at work and asked Sandy to bring her something she’d forgotten.
Little did Sandy know that call was the first step in Lindo’s elaborate plan for proposing.
She recalls she was in no hurry to get home, so she did some errands on the way back. It took her a few moments to take in the scene that greeted her when she opened the front door: The room was filled with glowing candles and balloons, some of her and Lindo’s favorite music was playing and there was a huge box tied with a bow in the middle of the living room.
After a few minutes, Lindo stepped out of the box with the ring and proposed.
Time has done its job, and Sandy now finds the whole weekend amusing.
“He loved every minute of it. He’s so good at throwing me off,” she said recalling a surprise party he threw for her at Charley’s with 75 of her friends. “This proposal was so par for the course.”
The prediction made by the woman at Arby’s continues to hold true, and the Gharibs will celebrate their 25th anniversary this summer. The toddler at Arby’s that day, Kate, is now a junior at the University of South Carolina, and mom and dad have their fingers crossed that Madison, a junior in high school, will choose Longwood.
“I truly married my best friend,” said Sandy, who is the coordinator for learning and development for Virginia’s community college system. Lindo added, “I love her more than ever. I still get that tingly feeling when I look at her all these years later.”
By the book
The young couple knew they didn’t want to wait even one more day to say their vows after years of wishing that moment would come.
Caitlin and Laura had just heard on the evening news that the Virginia Supreme Court had legalized marriage for same-sex couples. So, when they got up the next morning—Oct. 7, 2014—they took the day off and headed straight to the courthouse.
“We were so thrilled when we saw the news. We had waited so long,” said Laura, who holds a doctorate in higher education and is Title IX coordinator for Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. “My parents were a little disappointed that we didn’t wait for them to drive up.”
Those feelings were assuaged when Caitlin and Laura promised they’d have a reception. A year later, a host of family members and friends celebrated the couple’s marriage at a beachfront restaurant in Virginia Beach.
In a nod to Caitlin’s and Laura’s roots as English majors, the focal point for each table’s centerpiece was a book with a romance theme. They scoured used bookstores for appropriate tomes, which included Pride and Prejudice, a favorite of both brides, and Written on the Body, which was the focus of Caitlin’s senior thesis.
Caitlin, who is children’s collection management librarian for the Henrico County Public Library, recalled that it was Laura’s sense of humor and adept use of sarcasm that got her attention when they met through mutual friends. For Laura, it was Caitlin’s genuine kindness and her intelligence.
Today, they enjoy hiking with their two dogs and exploring their new home in the Richmond area.
“We’ve just never stopped laughing and having fun,” said Laura. “And reading—we still read together all the time.”