From puppy love to the real deal, countless relationships have blossomed at USM and its predecessor schools. These sweethearts share their love stories and take us on a romantic stroll down memory lane. Some of these stories appeared in the Spring/Summer 2018-19 issue of the USM Today magazine. To submit your USM love story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Marcia (Carman) MUS'49 and Warren MUS'48 Bowlus
- Connie (Evans) MDS'57 and Jim MUS'54 Kolster
- Karen (Kutchera) MUS'61 and Andy MUS'61 Sawyer
- Kathy (Muth) '65 and Gregg '65 Kuehn
- Margaret (Kagin) '70 and Paul '70 La Pointe
- Cynthia (Shackleton) '73 and Michael '71 Martin
- Judy (Tanner) '72 and Larry '72 Moon
- Anne (Humleker) '76 and Les '75 Heintz
- Eric Dawson '99 and Angel Williams '99
- Sierra (Reece) '00 and Matt '00 Sullivan
- Tom Burke '03 and Katie Hinkle '03
- Jessica (Seter) '06 and Andrew '03 Lane
- Tim "Bubba" '06 and Martha (Sprague) '06 Heitman
- Kelsey (Butt) '06 and Nicholas '06 Michel
- Rawlings (Long) '10 and Tommy '10 Joerres
If it weren’t for a piece of candy, my life would have taken a left turn and I would not have met my life’s partner, Warren Bowlus. When I was in 5th grade, a piece of round, wafer candy became caught crosswise in my throat. My mother called our doctor, who in those days made house calls. In the ensuing conversation, we learned that our doctor, Dr. Johnson, was on the board of directors of Milwaukee University School, where my older sister, Elizabeth Carman MUS’45, was a student.
We learned that the lower school’s 6th grade was looking for one more student, so it was decided that I should attend MUS in the fall. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it had a huge impact on my life.
The next year, the junior-high girls decided to have a Sadie Hawkins-themed hay ride party in early February where the girls could ask the boys. Of course there was only one guy I wanted to ask, and he was Warren! Warren likes to tell everyone that I asked him out on our first date—telling them, “Imagine a February hayride in Wisconsin! You know how cold it was?” Regardless, neither of us looked back and soon thereafter we were going steady.
We took long walks along Lake Michigan, south to downtown Milwaukee or north to Whitefish Bay. We didn’t care how long they were because we were together. We often went to the movies, many of which were double-headers with headliner Big Band stage acts between them, for 15 to 25 cents.
We both went on to college—I went to Milwaukee’s Layton School of Art on a scholarship and Warren attended UW-La Crosse for physical education, but the distance did not hinder our growing affection. We were married in December 1950, and that was the beginning of the next wonderful chapter in our life together, including the births of our two children who are both now retired—imagine that!
We have been enjoying our retirement for 31 years, and have traveled to many countries. We enjoy cruising and, on one of our 73 cruises, I was asked, “What’s the secret to a long marriage?” My answer is this: Be friends first, then get married, then have children, then go cruising like we do!
Every year we celebrate two anniversaries—our first date in 1943, and our wedding anniversary; we look forward to celebrating our 69th wedding anniversary this winter! We know long relationships like ours don’t always happen but we are so grateful that a piece of candy turned my life right instead of left, and set the wheels moving in the right direction.
– Marcia Bowlus MUS’49
In December 1954, I was approached by a good friend, Carol (Huebsch) Reeves MDS'55, who asked if I was willing to go on a blind date for the Women's Service Club dance. Meanwhile her date, Pete Zacher MUS'54, was unwilling to go unless someone his age would go with him, so he asked Jim to be my blind date for the event. We had a wonderful time. Jim still says he thought I was a senior at MDS. I didn't volunteer my age and he didn't ask.
For the next four years we dated on and off. Jim graduated from MUS in 1954 and went on to Williams College. I graduated from MDS in 1957 and my college choice was the University of Colorado. For my junior year at UC, Jim came out to work on a master's degree. In the spring of that year he got a call from Harold Strow, MUS director, offering him a job at MUS to teach math, drive the school bus, and help coach football. Jim said he couldn't turn it down. I graduated the next year and one month later we were married—57 years now and still going strong. Jim continued at MUS as director of admissions under Headmaster Davis Parker, and when the three schools merged in 1964 he became dean of students at the former MCDS campus for USM.
In 1966, we moved to Williamstown, Massachusetts were Jim served in the admissions office and then became dean of freshmen. In 1970, he became dean of students at Deerfield Academy. We had three children and boarding school life didn't mesh that well with raising a family. Jim was appointed headmaster of Allendale Columbia School in Rochester, New York in 1972, which was a merger of the Allendale School (for boys) with the Columbia School (for girls) that year. Two of our children graduated from Allendale Columbia. While in Rochester, I wen't back to school and earned my nursing degree. In 1984, Jim was asked to be the head of The Episcopal School in Jacksonville, Florida. After five years he left head-mastering. Leadership expectations in such schools included too high a priority for fund raising versus the role of overseeing the educational mission. For ten years, he enjoyed consulting with church schools in the southeast, helping with school head searches and management issues while I continued with my career as a hospice nurse.
Now we both are retired and living in a continuing care retirement community in Atlantic Beach, Florida. We both have wonderful memories of MDS, MUS, and USM. We try to get to reunions and still keep in touch with many classmates. How impressed we are with all that has happened at USM since we moved from Milwaukee in 1966.
- Connie (Evans) MDS'57 Kolster
Our marriage was quite by chance, as Karen was part of the group that carpooled to MUS daily from Wauwatosa. Karen transfered into MUS her sophomore year and we dated pretty steadily during senior year. Karen was smart and athletic, through at the time the gals only had half-court basketball and field hockey as sports. But she was a top inland lake sailor on Beaver Lake. Obviously if she has stayed in Wauwatosa for high school we would not have met, much lass dated and married.
Our first big decision of senior year was where we would go to college. We did collaborate a bit and applied to Northwestern and Dennison. We both got in, but Karen wanted a college that offered skiing, so she applied to and was accepted to Middlebury College. I had no clue where to apply and wasn't the student Karen was (cum laude) but had heard good things about Williams College. Several MUS guys who I admired attended Williams (Fred Kasten MUS'57, Jim Bell MUS'58, and Sandy Kasten MUS'60). It was a stretch, but I applied to and was accepted to Williams. I knew I got in only because they were looking for geographic diversification or because they had a program to admit some candidates with attributes other than academic. We pulled out a map and discovered that the distance from Williamstown to Middlebury was only 90 minutes up route 7.
Though we dated others in college, when it came to big weekends—football, homecoming, winter carnival, and spring house parties—Karen would be in Williamstown with me. I even occasionally hitch-hiked up to Middlebury! After five years of dating, Karen asked during our senior year, "Where are we going with this relationship?" Deep thinking was not my strong suit, but I knew it was time to get engaged and plan for life after college. One big problem was the Vietnam conflict, and my student deferment would end in June 1965. I had a banking job lined up in Milwaukee and was ready to start a career. At that time, married men without children were exempt from the draft so we planned our marriage in Middlebury, Vermont. I graduated on a Saturday, Karen on the next Sunday, we had our rehearsal dinner on Monday, and married in the Congregational Church on Tuesday! We jumped in an old car back to Milwaukee after a short honeymoon. Of course, the law changed and I went into the Army Reserve to avoid Vietnam. (Only married men with children were deferred.)
Our story with MUS/USM didn't end when we graduated in 1961. Our three children all attended USM in the '80s though we had initially planned to send them to Homestead High School. (It would take a drink/sidebar conversation to explain all that.) But happily, all three were challenged and performed well at USM—they were first honors, cum laude students. Unfortunately, there will not be a third-generation of Sawyers attending USM, as they live on both coasts.
Too often we don't reflect on how our past influenced our lives, but meeting my future wife at MUS 59 years ago was huge.
- Andy Sawyer MUS'61
If Milwaukee University School and Milwaukee Country Day School hadn’t merged, we never would have met. Kathy and I were introduced at the house of a mutual friend in the fall of 1964, our senior year and the first year of the schools’ merger. We remained friends but didn’t date, and we both graduated in 1965. Although Kathy went off to college in the Midwest and I went east to Tufts, we still kept in touch.
Our first official date was New Year’s Eve, 1965. We dated through the next summer, and soon thereafter Kathy transferred to the University of Denver. Thanks to student standby airfares (only $100 round-trip), we were able to visit each other several times during our sophomore year. The relationship got more serious as the year went by, and we spent spring break of 1967 in the Bahamas with my family.
From then on, neither of us dated anyone else even though we had a long-distance romance. We worked it out and managed to see each other every six to eight weeks during the school year. I gave Kathy my fraternity pin in the beginning of our senior year, and we became engaged during spring break of 1969, on Great Exuma Island in the Bahamas.
We both graduated in May 1969 and moved back to Milwaukee, and were married that August. During our second year of marriage we moved to Grafton, Wisconsin, and bought the house where we still live today! Eventually we had two sons who both graduated from USM—Charlie ’96 and Andy ’99.
– Gregg Kuehn ’65
One of the perks of being layout editor for the yearbook, as I was for our senior year edition, was the freedom to place senior photographs wherever they seemed appropriate. It was no accident that Margaret and I appeared next to each other, somewhat looking at each other. (For extra credit, there are one or two other couples who were also positioned adjacent to one another. Can you identify them?)
Perhaps the verses for each photo sum up why we married and why we are still together after nearly 45 years of marriage involving health crises, moves across the continent, and the normal challenges of life. Margaret always had a vision and a dream, looking outward at the wider world and planning to embrace it fully. I sought adventure and recognized Margaret's striving to know as the freeing focus I needed. Not to mention that we both thought that the other was quite cute!
Our relationship continued in a somewhat rocky fashion during the first two years of undergrad in Massachusetts (Paul attended Amherst, pursuing double degrees in geology and Spanish, about eight miles from Smith, where Margaret completed her degree in French), but began to solidify and did so on August 31, 1974, shortly after we had started grad school at UW-Madison, where Margaret completed a Ph.D. in French and I obtained an MS in geology and a Ph.D. in engineering. After 10 years in Dallas and now 27 in the Seattle area, we are still gazing towards the future, and enjoying each other's company.
- Paul '70 La Pointe
My husband, Michael, and I met when he was the head of the lighting crew for one of the theatrical productions. He was having trouble recruiting help, so a girlfriend and I volunteered. We really didn’t date while in high school, although we did run into each other occasionally. Several years later, we started seeing each other casually while home on college breaks. One thing led to another, and six years after we met, we were married. Forty-one years later we are still happily married, with two grown children.
—Cynthia (Shackleton) Martin ’73
Larry and I met in 1st grade at Milwaukee University School in Mrs. Billings’ class. Larry was a new kid in class, but I had been there since nursery school. Neither of us remember each other that early, but it is fun to recollect events that occurred in our primary classrooms. I remember Larry writing me a love letter while in Mrs. Brandt’s 3rd grade class, but Larry claims no memory of this. However, the letter was written on a typewriter which Larry says sounds like something he would do.
Fast forward to high school. Although we never dated at USM, I was very good friends several of Larry’s high school girlfriends who shared many stories. We never had any classes together—I was in the art room and or playing field hockey while Larry was in choir or enjoying PE on a regular basis. Larry excelled in math, while I was into history and English. Opposites attract or so they say. There are, however, many memories we share from parties, float building, and being in theatre productions together.
In 1982, 10 years after graduation, we connected again at Debra Usinger’s ’72 apartment as a group of us planned our 10-year reunion. We went out to dinner that evening and we were married nine months later! Should have practiced safe eating.
We are grateful for the lifelong friends, memories, experiences and of course the education that we received at USM and especially for the chance to plan or our tenth year reunion!
—Judy Moon ’72
We started dating early in Upper School at USM, when Anne was a 15-year old freshman and I was a 16-year old sophomore. I started at MUS in kindergarten and was in 2nd grade the year USM was formed, and Anne was the last dormer to graduate. Our first big date was prom in 1973 (the photo where I look about 8 years old) and we have been together ever since. We attended Albion College and were married in 1980. Fritz Usinger '76 was best man and Teri (Schaefer) Shaughnessy '75 was a bridesmaid at our wedding. We recently celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and 46 years together (whew!).
Work took us away from Wisconsin. We started our careers in Madison, moved to Nashville for five years and then settled in metro Washington, D.C. in 1988. Anne is a successful travel agent serving both leisure and corporate clients, and I am a television producer running my own media firm. I am also president of the National Capital Chesapeake Bay Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
We have two strong, beautiful daughters. Stephanie lives in New York City and Natalie is nearby in Arlington, Virginia. We are in Milwaukee often and we keep in touch with a few USM alumni.
- Les Heintz '75
Eric and I met our freshman year at USM. Eric joined USM that year and loved playing football while I, a USM lifer, was deep into the theatre scene. Over the years of Upper School, we became close friends and started talking on the phone every night about Eric's crush on another friend in our group. Over the year his attention shifted and by the time we hit graduation we realized our blooming relationship was worth pursuing.
Just after graduation (so technically not high school sweethearts) we went on our first date. Seven years to that day later we got married at Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee. We stayed together, long distance, for those seven years, Eric playing football for North Dakota State University and I studying at Barnard College. Finally, after our wedding, we relocated to the east coast and we now call Boston home. Eric, a professional Strongman, has opened a strength training gym called Titan Barbell in Stoneham, Massachusetts. I am the Director of Planning at MIT Lincoln Labs. We have two beautiful girls, Olivia Dawson and Goodie Dawson, and an adorable dog named Lenny.
- Angel Williams '99
I came to USM in 1998 as a junior. As Matt would tell the story, he was intrigued by the new girl from Colorado with the "exotic" name. He approached me one day to introduce himself, be friendly, and then, in his usual forward manner, he asked if I had any interest in any of the boys at the school, hoping I'd take the hint that he was trying to ask me out. Again, according to Matt, I responded to say, "I would never date a boy from this school." (I have no recollection of this conversation. In fact, I don't remember talking to Matt much, if at all, while at school.) Even then, the only thing we really found that we had in common was that we both decided to go to the University of Colorado Boulder after graduation.
When the school year ended we both went off to enjoy our summers. On CU move-in day, my mom spotted Matt's iconic Ford Bronco parked outside of his dorm. Thinking he might appreciate seeing a familiar face, she left a note on the windshield with my phone number. Of course, Matt called—maybe to be polite, maybe with the hope of something more, or maybe because his roommate also wanted to meet some girls on campus—and then he stopped by my dorm to help me move in. We started hanging out more and more, found more common ground, and became good friends along the way. After many CU football games, ski days, and other college events, we started dating, and as they say, the rest is history. After several years, Matt proposed at the top of the Telluride Ski Area and, this time, I took the hint and said yes. We were married in 2007, and we are living our happily ever after in Mequon with our three kids (Michael, Delilah, and Lillian).
- Sierra (Reece) '00 Sullivan
Tom and I met when Tom transferred to USM in the middle of 8th grade. By freshman year we went to our very first homecoming dance together (see photo), but decided we were better off as friends. We remained close friends throughout high school, sharing many classes and extracurricular activities like serving on class board. As luck would have it, we both ended up in Boston for college; Tom at Boston College and Katie at Boston University. Our friendship continued to grow, and by senior year it became something more! We got married in 2014 with other USM alumni attending the ceremony in Milwaukee. We now live in Madison, Wisconsin where Tom is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Wisconsin and Katie is an attorney practicing commercial real estate law at a large national firm. Thanks to USM for bringing us together!
- Katie Hinkle '03
Despite roaming the same Upper School hallways (Andrew as a senior, me as a freshman), we didn't speak our first words to one another until 10 years later when our paths crossed at a concert in Chicago (coincidentally to support the band of a USM alum)! I attended the concert with another USM alumna, Jessica (Nash) Noll '06, who deliberately 'bumped' me into Andy and the rest is history. We were married in August 2016 and we now reside in Chicago with our son, William, and baby number two is on the way.
- Jessica (Seter) '06 Lane
Bubba and I met when I joined his class at USM in 2nd grade, but it would take graduation to officially put us together. In fact, Bubba (a USM lifer) and I were paired to walk down the aisle together for USM’s Commencement. While we waited in line, Bubba “put on the moves,” and I immediately fell for him. We started dating that summer and decided to give a long-distance relationship a shot. After staying together throughout college and a move to Washington, D.C., we walked down the aisle again in 2014 and were married surrounded by many USM alumni. We recently moved back to the Midwest and now reside in Chicago with our dog, Winston.
– Martha Heitman ’06
Nick and I met junior year when he started at USM, but we didn't get to know each other well until we went to the Sadie Hawkins dance together senior year. After that, we quickly started spending more time together and began dating a few weeks later. However, we had both already decided on where we were going to college, so after graduation, I headed to Elon University in North Carolina and Nick to Southern Methodist University in Dallas. After four years of long distance, we both moved to Washington, D.C. to continue our relationship and start our careers. We got married in Milwaukee a few years later at the historic Pritzlaff Building, joined by many fellow USM alumni. We now live in Seattle with our son, Wyatt, who was born on Aug. 3, 2019. Nick is a senior manager for sourcing at Crowd Cow, a start-up that delivers farm traceable meat to consumers. I am a vice president at Nielsen responsible for customer engagement in the retail analytics practice.
- Kelsey Michel '06
Tommy and I met in Upper School, when he asked me to prom our junior year. We dated senior year and dated on and off in college, because we went to different schools. After school, Tommy moved to Chicago and I moved to Atlanta. Two years later, Tommy moved to Atlanta and we got married that next year. We got married in April 2018 and still live in Atlanta. Six our of Tommy's 10 groomsman went to USM as well.
- Rawlings Joerres '10