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Marriages Made at BU

Terrier couples recall first glances, awkward moments

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Born on different continents, Sarah Degnan and Gerard Kambou are forever grateful to Boston University for encouraging them as students “to open their minds to new knowledge, new cultures, and new experiences,” as Sarah puts it. About to celebrate their 23rd anniversary, they are also grateful to the candid colleague who in 1985 told Sarah (SPH’84, UNI’94) that her parties were boring. The problem: never enough men. “Like I knew any, right?” says Degnan Kambou. But her friend did know at least one man, Gerard Kambou (GRS’84), and she brought him to their next get-together.

For the U.S.-born Degnan, who had just finished her master’s in public health and was directing the School of Public Health’s summer certificate program in international health, and Gerard, who came from Cote D’Ivoire to Boston for graduate studies, that party went well. Degnan welcomed Kambou in French. “I was amazed,” says Kambou, a senior economist with the World Bank. “I thought, what a nice person.”

Married at Marsh Chapel in April 1990, the couple, who have a son and daughter, settled in Washington, D.C., after spending 11 years living and working in African countries, among them Togo, Zambia, Ethiopia, Mali, and Cote D’Ivoire. Degnan Kambou, who heads the International Center for Research on Women, was recently named to President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council.

On a campus with the population of a small town, Terrier-to-Terrier marriages are statistically favored, and Valentine’s Day invites a look at BU couples who fell in love not only with their life’s work, but with their life partner. For the Kambous, it was a party followed by a memorable first date—a July 4 picnic on the Esplanade with exploding fireworks as the Boston Pops rang out the stirring 1812 Overture.

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Sarah Beth Romanik (COM’09) and David Romanik (CAS’07). Photo courtesy of Sarah Beth Romanik

For Sarah Beth Yoder (COM’09) and David Romanik (CAS’07), it was the hint of future harmonies imagined while singing alto and tenor in the Marsh Chapel Choir.

“I met him in 2005 when I was a freshman and he was a junior,” says Sarah Beth. The pair began dating a year later and married in the chapel in October 2011. “We hung out a lot at first, because choir is a close clique of people,” she says. “David didn’t even realize we were dating; I had to tell him.” Some of the other singers “made fun of us at first. They thought we were too lovey-dovey. People thought it was either cute, or they hated it.”

David, who went on to seminary, is now a priest at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Tex., and Sarah is special projects manager at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. “I sing in the choir,” says Sarah, “but David doesn’t. He sings in church—he’s the singing priest.”

What is the secret to these enduring marriages? “I think it helps to have two professional working people in a relationship,” says Meredith Goldstein, who writes the advice column “Love Letters” for the Boston Globe. “It gives both people wonderful things to talk about. Actually when you have two people who are successful, right off the bat they’re in a good place.” And while couples find each other in many places and many ways, people who choose the same college have a real kinship, says Goldstein.

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Emily Zeeberg (COM’05) and Amos Zeeberg (COM’05). Photo courtesy of Amos Zeeberg

It was a shared passion for journalism that united Emily Zeugner (COM’05) and Amos Konigsberg (COM’05), who met a decade ago as graduate students in a radio journalism class taught by Anne Donohue (COM’88), a College of Communication associate professor of journalism. “Amos likes to say I was a teacher’s pet, but that’s just because I had better ideas than he did,” says Emily. The couple now have two children, and they all share a melded last name: Zeeberg. “We decided to merge our names for a bunch of reasons,” she says. “I disliked the idea of taking someone else’s name, and hyphenating would’ve been disastrous from a spelling standpoint.”

Emily recently joined the U.S. State Department Foreign Service as a diplomacy officer and is awaiting news of her first posting. Luckily for the family, who could end up anywhere from Moscow to Addis Ababa, Amos is a science journalist and editor with, as Emily puts it, a “portable career.” They’re excited about their future, “wherever we end up in the world,” she says.

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Patricia Gladstone (DGE’69, SED’71) and Stephen Gladstone (SMG’71). Photo courtesy of Patricia Gladstone

Together 37 years, Stephen Gladstone (SMG’71) describes his initial attraction to his wife, Patricia (DGE’69, SED’71) as “pretty simple.” Then Patricia Clayton, she was a cheerleader, and he was captain of the Terrier basketball team. “I was pretty wrapped up in the game and though I’m usually sharp when it comes to things, I couldn’t believe I didn’t notice her before,” says Gladstone, a stock trader in Westport, Conn. The story of their rocky start is now the stuff of legend for the Gladstones, their children, and grandchildren. Gladstone had invited the former Miss New Jersey runner-up to a party in Kenmore Square after a game, he and his buddies in the lead car and Patricia and friends following, when “I drove straight over the Mass Ave divider,” he says. “They were following us and thought we were nuts.”

They married several years after graduation. “She had a lot of suitors,” says Gladstone. “I guess my personality, charm, and wit won her over.” The secret to their longevity as a couple, he says, is that they’re opposites in many ways. “She’s soft-spoken and kind.” The garrulous former athlete now has a set of towering sons he finds “a little too tough” to face on the basketball court.

The Gladstones were at BU recently to cheer on the Terriers. “It was so nice to be back in Boston; we had a great time,” says Patricia, who deferred to her husband on the details of their courtship. “He tells great stories.”

What are Stephen Gladstone’s plans for Valentine’s Day? “I guess I’ve got to get some chocolate or flowers or something,” he says. Judging by the hearty laugh that followed, it’s safe to say that he will be forgiven if he doesn’t.

4 Comments

4 Comments on Marriages Made at BU

  • Karin on 02.14.2013 at 8:46 am

    Love the story! My husband and I are an international “Terrier Couple” who met at BU in 1999. Happy Valentine’s Day to all the “Terrier Couples” out there!

  • Chris on 02.14.2013 at 10:12 am

    My fiancé and I are an international “Terrier Couple” who met at BU in 2012. She’s from Maryland and I’m from Louisiana.

    • Nedia on 02.14.2013 at 10:22 am

      I don’t think that the term “international” means what you think it means.

  • JR on 02.15.2013 at 10:58 am

    Curious how these couples were picked. I know so many BU couples who saw no call for stories.

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