College is of course about academics and reaching career goals, but student experiences reach far beyond the classroom at Minnesota State Mankato. Building relationships, sharing common (and often changing) values and finding someone who is on the same journey as you can be a huge, life-altering part of the university experience.
Which is why the Alumni Association sought out couples who found love on campus to tell their stories. The result was #MavMarriages, a social media campaign in which alumni shared a different kind of success story than you usually see. Couples sent in family portraits, proposal tales and stories of looking across the hallways of the residence halls and spotting “the one” for the first time.
We have the extreme pleasure of sharing these stories with our larger alumni audience in hopes of sparking excitement and pride among our Maverick love birds. See all the submitted #MavMarriages photos on the Alumni Association Facebook page.
Pat (Gast) Buchanan ’88 and Don Buchanan ’49, ’55
No one would have predicted when I met Don Buchanan on campus in 1958 that I would become his wife 48 years later!
Don and I first met in 1958 when I was a 17-year-old just out of high school—not as a student at Mankato State College but as secretary to Dr. Roy B. Moore and the faculty of the Division of Health, Physical Education and Athletics. Don was on the faculty in the Division of Health, Physical Education and Athletics, and Dr. Moore was Don’s boss.
I left Mankato State College in 1967 when I was hired by Johnson Reels (later known as Johnson Fishing) in Mankato. After a 27 1/2-year career there, I took early retirement in 1994 and soon after, established a home office business that I managed through 2005.
Don had joined the Mankato State College faculty in the 1955-56 academic year. He remained there, with a two-year interruption to complete a doctoral degree at Indiana University, and enjoyed a 35-year career as a teacher, coach and administrator. He retired in 1990 and pursued his hobbies, including wild game hunting, waterfowl decoy collecting, watercolor painting, photography and writing. Don was happily married to his high school sweetheart, Ora, for more than 50 years when she passed away in 2005.
Just prior to Valentine’s Day in 2006, Don called and invited me out for dinner. I accepted his invitation and that first date led to more dinners and soon a proposal. I married Dr. Donald W. Buchanan, retired Dean of the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, becoming a bride for the first time at age 65! Our fairy-tale wedding took place on July 15, 2006, and we are looking forward to celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary this year! —Pat (Gast) Buchanan
Kim (Rolloff) Hanson ’97 and Charles Hanson ’94
My wife Kim (Rolloff) Hanson and I are both Minnesota State Mankato graduates. I enrolled there in 1991 after serving in the Air Force. I was an RA in McElroy Hall on F-1 in the fall of 1992. The RA from F-4 and I arranged a mixer activity that included a hayride for the guys on my floor and the ladies on hers. I remember seeing my future wife in the lobby as we were all getting ready to drive out for the hay ride. I distinctly remember thinking she was probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen and desperately hoping that she was from F-4 and coming on the hayride.
Luckily for me, she was indeed from F-4 and coming on the hayride. During the ride, someone told me that Kim wanted to ask me for a ride back to the dorms on my motorcycle but was nervous. I immediately said yeas and we rode back together. I was on duty that weekend as an RA, so we spent the next night (a Saturday) just sitting in my room talking (between my hourly rounds, of course). We talked the whole night and it seemed like we had known each other forever. We began dating and were engaged two years later.
We married each other on June 29, 1996 and will celebrate our 20th anniversary this summer! We have two great kids, Jacob (15) and Brooke (11). Kim worked as a paralegal from graduation until just last fall, when she received her realtor’s license; she now works for New Ulm Real Estate. I went into business for myself after graduation and then went to law school. I am now the county attorney for Brown County. We live in New Ulm, where we couldn’t be happier!
Life has had its ups and downs, but we’ve been through it all together and I wouldn’t trade the last 20 years for anything. I’m looking forward to the next 20+ years with the woman of my dreams! —Chuck Hanson
Katie Jo ’04 and Bob Jeske ’04
I wouldn’t say that my husband and my fist meeting was love at first sight, but it was pure chemistry. Bob and I were told about each other by a mutual acquaintance, but neither of us took it very seriously. We went to a bigger university, so the chances of us bumping into each other was pretty low. I was mildly intrigued, though, and because I knew the man this mutual acquaintance had told me about was on the football team, I looked him up on the team roster. Lo and behold, he was in two of my classes that semester. We shared a major. I took a chance and introduced myself to him during our chemistry class and we became fast friends, which eventually led to us beginning to date, and then finally getting married. We are forever Mavs fans and are very proud to have met each other there. We like to think that God put us in the right place at the right time to meet each other. Three boys and 1o years of marriage later, we still support the Mavs and love telling our kids stories about our days at Minnesota State Mankato. —Katie Jo Jeske
Kris (Wells) Nelson ’84 and Scott Nelson ’85
I met my husband, Scott Nelson, at Minnesota State Mankato in September 1981.
I thought he was cute the moment I saw him come into the choir room that first day. He was happy and animated and he loved to sing. He sat behind me with the other tenors, but we really didn’t talk too much right away.
Then Doc Wortman, our director, did something that forever changed my life. He told us to mix up and not stand by anyone who sang our same part. I was thrilled when I ended up standing next to Scott! I finally had a good excuse to talk to him.
I knew I was starting to fall for this guy when I ran into him in the halls of Armstrong one day. From that point on, I would go through the same hall each day at the same time, just so I could run into him again!
But the icing on top of this soon-to-be-wedding cake was when the choir went on tour to Louisiana and Florida in March 1982. We were checking out the sights of new Orleans with a big group of people when I realized I had left a package at the coffee shop we had just visited. Scott volunteered to go with me to retrieve it. We were not able to find the group after that, so we ended up walking around alone for the rest of the day. I am so glad I forgot that package! We started dating after we got back from that trip and got married in September of 1983.
We were back on campus in October of last year for the Maverick Homecoming football game and had someone take this picture of us by the fountain. It was always be Mankato State University to us, and will always hold a special place in our hearts! —Kris (Wells) Nelson
Tracy Stokes Hernandez ’03 and Jesus Hernandez ’05
We met at Minnesota State Mankato through mutual friends and have been together 17 years, married 12 years. —Tracy Stokes Hernandez
Kellie (Blanchard) Wishy ’10 and Joe Wishy ’07
My freshman year of college, I was on my way to class when I decided to stop by one of the lecture halls in Morris, knowing that a buddy of mine got there early to waste time before class started. I walked in and sat down, and next to my friend was a good lucking guy. My friend introduced him to me—his name was Joe. He was cute, nice, polite and charming. With the butterflies that I was feeling in my stomach, I must have been pink in the face by the time I left. I hoped I would find a way to bump into this guy again soon!
It would seem, over the next few years, that fate decided we just weren’t meant to be in each other’s lives…yet. We would bump into one another a few times, but only quick enough to say hello or wave and then go our separate ways. We had different groups of friends, hung out at different places and our paths just didn’t cross very often. I would point him out to friends when I saw him out and about, but was too nervous to approach him or ask him out. It was those darn butterflies every time! I actually became pretty good friends with Joe’s brother, Ryan, also a Mankato alum, but never got to hang out with Joe. So, in 2007, when Joe graduated…that was it. He left Mankato. I had missed my chance…or had I?
After graduated in 2010 and working in Mankato for awhile, I moved back to Bloomington in the fall of 2011. A few months went by and in February, a girlfriend of mine asked if I wanted to go with her to a friend’s birthday at Cowboy Jacks in Bloomington. When we got to the bar, she point out and and waved at who we were there to see. It was Joe! What were the chances?!? I hadn’t seen him in more than 4 years, but the minute I saw him, I got this same butterflies. I felt like I was 13 years old with a crush. He seemed just as surprised and excited to see me, which made our reunion a little more comfortable. Due to the fact that it was his birthday, there were a lot of people there vying for his attention, so we decided to get together soon and grab a drink. After several fun and wonderful dates, Joe Wishy was my boyfriend! I never would have guessed in a million years. Fate had finally taken a deep breath and said, “Okay, now it’s time!”
Joe and I had been dating for about two years when Joe booked us a last minute trip to Boston to visit friends for St. Patrick’s Day. After lots of walking around and touristy stuff, he took me down by the harbor, got down on one knew and proposed! What?!? We were engaged! I couldn’t be more over the moon than I was at that moment. I kept saying in my head, “Joe Wishy is your fiancé!” Yup…still butterflies!
That fall, we decided to take a road trip back to Mankato, where it all started, to take our engagement pictures. A few pictures under the arch, near Morris Hall, and a couple of other popular spots before heading down to Sibley Park to capture the fall colors. Mankato will always hold a special place in our hearts.
In the interest of saving time, I’ll fast forward to June 2015. I finally got to say I do and marry my crush from college, the man of my dreams. I’m still experiencing those same butterflies from the first day we met! —Kellie (Blanchard) Wishy