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We Met at UMass

Tales of alumni who found true love on campus.

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Charlie and Mickey Feldberg today

Approaching their 65th anniversary, Charlie and Mickey Feldberg, shown at home in Palm Beach, may have the longest UMass alumni marriage.

Photo by
John Solem
Charlie and Mickey Feldberg in 1954

Charlie and Mickey Feldberg in 1954.

THE OTHER ONE

In September 1951, UMass sophomore Charles Feldberg ’54, ’08Hon and a red-haired friend decided to check out the freshman girls on move-in day. They helped Mildred (“Mickey”) Velleman ’55, arriving with her parents from Brookline, carry her camp trunk up to the third floor of Lewis Hall in Northeast. “She was cute and vivacious,” recalls Charlie.

Later, Charlie and his friends ran into Mickey and her friends in downtown Amherst. He invited her to a Hillel dance. “I thought he was special,” Mickey says, and called her mother to tell her about her date. “Remember the boy who helped me move in?” she said. “The redhead?” asked her mother. “No, the other one!” replied Mickey. Charlie and Mickey Feldberg celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary in December, but for as long as she lived, Mickey’s mother teasingly called Charlie “The Other One.”

On campus, the Feldbergs saw each other daily. A frequent date spot was Dalton’s diner near campus. “She would have the black coffee for 5 cents and I’d have coffee with milk for 10 cents,” says Charlie. Few students had cars and there wasn’t much to do in town, but the campus was lively, with an annual military ball, a winter ball, Tau Epsilon Phi doings for Charlie, and Sigma Delta Tau activities for Mickey. “The boys always bought the girls corsages for the dances,” says Mickey. “You had to have a faculty chaperone at the fraternity parties,” adds Charlie. “We’d pick the youngest one and give him a bottle of whiskey and pack of cards.”

Charlie had enrolled in Army ROTC at UMass (the enticing benefits included a warm coat) and so after graduating he began two years of active duty. The couple married in December 1954, six weeks before Mickey’s early graduation. The couple began their married life in Virginia.

In step since that long-ago Hillel dance, when the Feldbergs tell their life story they interrupt one another for compliments. “He makes a great breakfast,” says Mickey. “She was liberated from birth,” says Charlie. “He always dressed for work like Gentleman’s Quarterly—cufflinks, tailored suit,” says Mickey.

A food science major, Charlie spent 35 years with Best Foods, the multinational manufacturer of Hellmann’s mayonnaise, Skippy peanut butter, and many other products. He was the company’s vice president for health, safety, and quality assurance and a leader in the industry.

Active in the women’s movement, Mickey used her home economics degree in her work in education and in food communications and marketing. The Feldbergs have three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren and remain contentedly busy: sculpture for Charlie; editing the temple newsletter for Mickey; art and theater, food and family for both.

The Feldbergs are among the campus’s strongest supporters. Charlie praises his professors, the affordable tuition, and his professional network in a three-page, single-spaced narrative he titled “What UMass Food Science Means to Me.” 

Seated in their colorful Palm Beach, Florida, living room reflecting on love, marriage, hard work, family, and fun, Charlie says, “It all started at the University of Massachusetts.”

 



Like the Feldbergs, many couples met on their first day on campus.

My husband and I met on the first day of school while living in Coolidge. He walked into my dorm accidentally, looking for someone in the room next door! We have been together since, married since 2001, and have two boys.

Lisa Chan Iannetta ’97; married to Michael Iannetta ’97

Day one of move-in, I get enlisted as Mr. Handyman to aid in furniture assembly with the promise of some Hangar wings as a reward. The girl I would someday marry asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble if I helped put her knockoff IKEA table together.

Christopher Malsch ’11; married to Jess (Gordon) Malsch ’11 

I met my husband, Steven Greenberger ’11, on move-in day on the third floor of Patterson. Little did I know when I poked my head into his dorm room that day and commented on his funny last name that someday it would be my last name too. We bonded over our love for burritos and Adam Sandler movies and became fast friends.

Kira Lew Greenberger ’10; married to Steven Greenberger ’11

My first memory of my fiancé is eating cheeseburgers together on the steps of the Student Union at the Welcome Week barbeque. We met in the BioTAP program in Dickinson Hall when we were freshmen and are now living in Boston working on our PhDs at Harvard and MIT. We will be married this October 2019.

Alyson Warr ’15; engaged to John Manteiga ’15

I met my wife on move-in day in 2000 in Greenough. Our rooms were across the hall and we began dating soon after. Eight years later, I proposed by the campus pond. We have two boys and look forward to our 10th wedding anniversary this year. We’re football season ticket holders and brought our oldest to his first game last year.

Matthew Raymond ’04; married to Michelle (Chagnon) Raymond ’03


 

LOVE ACROSS BOUNDARIES

When Anil Shrikhande ’73PhD and Bannu Shrikhande ’73G got married in Memorial Hall in 1972, their families were dead set against it, predicting the marriage would never last.

Forty-six-plus years later, the Shrikhandes laugh about it, but back when they were students, two obstacles to their union—religion and nationality—loomed large. Anil is Hindu; Bannu is Zoroastrian. They came to UMass from countries with a long history of hostility: Anil is from India; Bannu from Pakistan.

“After I married him I went to a rival country,” says Bannu.

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Anil and Bannu Shrikhande

Anil (left) and Bannu Shrikhande at their traditional Indian wedding on campus.

The two met through mutual friends. Anil, who was studying for a PhD in food science, often came to Prince Hall to hang out with Bannu’s group of international friends. Bannu, pursuing a PhD in political science, didn’t realize Anil was interested in her. “I was so naïve,” she says, “I couldn’t understand why he kept coming to the dorm.” After a while, Anil asked Bannu’s entire friends group out to eat at Aqua Vitae, one of the area’s finer restaurants. “He went through a lot of difficulty,” she recalls. “We were poor students; he probably didn’t eat much the rest of that week.”

When their friendship blossomed into romance, Professor Anwar Syed, with whom Bannu had studied in Pakistan and who was a father figure to her in the U.S., took Anil aside and questioned him for an hour. “I was terrified,” recalls Bannu.

Even though Professor Syed reported back to Pakistan that their daughter had made a good choice, her parents urged her to “come back and forget about this,” Bannu recalls. 

Shrugging off family resistance, the two were married by a justice of the peace in Memorial Hall in July 1972. Bannu wore a red sari and the two exchanged gold bands purchased for $12 at Zayre. Their many UMass friends cooked Indian and Pakistani food for the reception. Professor Syed (now a professor emeritus) and Anil’s mentor, the late Professor Emeritus Frederick J. “Jack” Francis ’54PhD, were groomsmen. 

After living in Lincoln Apartments for a year, the Shrikhandes lived for five years in India before returning to the U.S. “The U.S. is where innovation happens,” says Anil. He also realized it would be better to live away from his rather conservative family. “If we wanted to have a happy relationship it would have to be in the U.S.,” he says.

Bannu devoted herself to raising their two boys, while Anil became a food and wine chemistry authority and nutritional industry pioneer, known for developing a standardized grape seed extract that helps maintain normal blood pressure, among other innovations. Until retirement in 2016, he was the president of Polyphenics, in California’s Central Valley, where the Shrikhandes live today. 

They attribute the success of their marriage to their mutual accepting, open-minded outlooks, which may also be key to their success as immigrants. “It’s an attitude thing,” says Anil. 

The two laugh easily and don’t spend time looking back. As Bannu puts it, “We lead our lives with confidence.”

 



More Love Across Boundaries

I met my husband, Yahman, who came to UMass from Malaysia, when he was a work-study student at a science lab in the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. We married in Jenjarom, Malaysia, in 1996 and are now the parents of two sons. We returned to western Massachusetts in 2007. Currently, our youngest son, Muhammad Yahman, is studying at the Isenberg School of Management.

Nancy Craker-Yahman ’90; married to Yahman Tomin ’90


 

 

Emily and MIchaela Lucas

Emily (left) and Michaela Lucas married in 2017.

Emily & Michaela

It was January. I was standing in the bowl of Orchard Hill.  As the snow fell, I watched her walk through the windows of Grayson and pass into Field. I was hungry and freezing, but as I stood outside that wintry morning, I knew in that moment that she was going to change everything. 

We grew up only five minutes from one another. However, UMass brought us together.  We suddenly shared a commonality of being small fish in a big sea.  Between dinners at Franklin dining hall, walks around the duck pond, and all-night study sessions in the library, I knew I was beginning to fall completely in love with this woman.  She illuminated the world in ways I never imagined possible.  We spent four years together on campus and in Amherst falling more in love every day.  It only seemed fitting that the day before I graduated we went back to where it all began.  We sat on O-Hill, and as the sun set between the trees and the library, I proposed.  She said yes.  Every year we go back to Amherst to walk the same paths, eat in the dining halls, and relive that magic that UMass filled us with.

Michaela (LeBlanc) Lucas ’15; married to Emily Lucas ’13

 



It's a Romantic Campus

Where they met!

Night class in romantic poetry // Buddies program // On the football field: he was a linebacker, I was a cheerleader // Party on Meadow Street // Antonio’s Pizza // Campus CRU RSO // He was in the drumline, I was in the color guard // UMass Forensic Society // B43 Bus // Washing field trip buses for UMass Transit // Whitmore Café // Latin 126 // Worcester Dining Commons // Alpha Tau Gamma-Sigma Kappa mixer // Hampshire Mall movie theater (he was on a date with another girl) // Spain: studying abroad with UMass // Intimate apparel party // Mike’s Westview bar // UMass Poetry society // Working at the Pita Pit // Dissecting rats in Bio 100 lab in Morrill // Hippie Beach // Science and Engineering Library // Football tailgate // Hillel House courtyard // McMurphy’s // Management 101 // CS 311 Algorithms // DU House Valentine mixer // Greek Week lip sync contest // Under a tree at orientation

First Dates!

Pasta e Basta // Blue Wall // The Hatch // Fitzwilly’s //  Judie’s // Viva // Bertucci’s // “While You Were Sleeping”

Proposal Spots!

Footbridge over Campus Pond // Edge of Campus Pond // On the UMass Seal (pond side) // Mount Sugarloaf // Between Hamilton and Knowlton (where we each lived when we met) // Outside the library // Trail behind McGuirk // Cross-country course // A special campus bench // Orchard Hill Bowl // In front of Bartlett Hall

Wedding Spots!

Rhododendron Garden behind Durfee // Campus Center // Old Chapel // Newman Center // Mineral Gallery



 

 

Khari Mitchell-Samuel and Liz Mitchell

Khari Mitchell-Samuel and Liz Mitchell find compromise essential in marriage.

LOVE WITH COMPLICATIONS

Their friendship began as many thousands of others have—hanging out in Southwest. Khari Mitchell-Samuel ’99 was a sophomore living on the sixth floor of Kennedy and Liz Mitchell ’00 was a first-year student on the sixth floor of Coolidge. They could see each other from their rooms, and they liked a lot of the same things—rap and hip-hop (“I’m obsessed with Notorious B.I.G.,” says Liz), collecting sneakers, and The X-Files.

Liz calls it a “kid romance” that became more official when Khari graduated.

Adding drama to the future of their youthful relationship were some special circumstances: When Khari left UMass he went to play in the National Football League. And Liz had their first child soon after she graduated.

Khari, one of the all-time great linebackers in the history of UMass football, was a key player on the 1998 NCAA Division 1-AA National Championship team. He was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 1999 NFL Draft. After several seasons with the Bears, he played for the Detroit Lions.

In the years when Khari traveled with the NFL, he and Liz communicated via clunky cell phones and pagers. He knew to call her when he saw the number 217 on his pager (the name Liz upside down). Distance and the uncertainty of a pro football career contributed to the relationship’s ups and downs during those years. But, Khari says, “We always found our way back to each other. There was that ‘it’ factor.”

“I always knew it would come to be,” says Liz.

Leaving the NFL in 2002 was a difficult transition for Khari. “Playing professionally was always my top goal,” he says. “After I did that it was hard to hit the reset button.”

With football behind him, he matured. “I became more able to adapt, more willing to change,” he says. “I’m more serious and I can allow myself to be vulnerable now.”

In 2006, Khari and Liz were married to the beat of steel drums on a grassy knoll overlooking the ocean in Anguilla. He found post-NFL success in medical equipment sales, currently working for Bausch & Lomb. Liz, an apparel marketing major, got a start in retail as a student, working for the clothing company Motherwear in Northampton. A perfect size 8, for the past 15 years she’s worked as a fit model for Ann Taylor, helping the company size their clothing. She works a couple of days a week in Manhattan and travels around the world to manufacturing sites. The Mitchell-Samuels live in Springfield, Massachusetts, and have two children, Gianna, 19, and Keion, 16.

The separations and uncertainty of the early years of their relationship were tough, but those factors have helped them forge a resilient marriage. “We’re not right on top of each other,” Liz says, “Even though we have a long history, when we see each other, it’s new.”

 



All in the (UMass) Family

In many families, meeting at UMass is a tradition. Melissa (Kirby) Healy ’13 wrote:

My husband (Matthew Healy ’13) was the weekend chef at the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma. I lived in the house next to the sorority, so when we first started hanging out, he used to text me on weekend mornings and tell me to come outside so he could sneak breakfast to me. I thought it was the cutest thing! We were married in August 2018.

My parents, Kristen (Johnson) Kirby and Chris Kirby (both class of 1977), met at UMass at the Blue Wall in 1973, back when it was a bar. According to my mom, it was one of the most popular places to hang out. They were married in 1980.

Matt’s grandparents, Judy (Walker) Richardson ’62 and Carl Richardson ’59, met at UMass in 1958. Carl was a senior engineering student and Judy was a freshman, studying to become a teacher. They had their first date at The Hatch. They were married in 1963.

It’s crazy to think that if UMass didn’t exist, I wouldn’t exist. Thank you, UMass, for bringing couples together for generations!



 

 

MORE 01003 LOVE STORIES

My friend set me up with her old high school friend. We all met at the dining commons. She neglected to tell me that he had just returned to campus after getting chicken pox. This poor guy with scabs on his face shows up to dinner and I was a bit surprised until he told me what it was. We went to the dead mall to see “Say Anything.” The next year we were both RAs in Central. We celebrated our 26th anniversary last November.

Jennifer Munroe-Nathans ’91; married to Robin Nathans ’90

Freshman year, February 1975, she was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Still is. She’d come to visit friends on fourth floor of Grayson late in the evening. No matter how early my next day’s class was I’d have to hang to be near her. After a date at the Top of the Campus (it was a restaurant then) and extended romance, Linda and I have been together since. Married in 1981, and two sons later, we’ve lived happily ever after. Really. We call our four years (six for me) at UMass one of the happiest times of our lives.

Cliff Larsen ’79, ’80G; married to Linda A. Koretsky ’78

I met my wife, Debbie, while playing basketball at UMass. I went diving for a loose ball and banged into her pretty hard. At the time the Cage was always packed (in the Julius Erving/Al Skinner era) and students would sit five-deep on the sidelines. After the game, I apologized for slamming into her. She went back to her dorm and told her roommates, “l just met the guy I’m going to marry.” We have been married 43 years and have four children and seven grandkids.

Tom McLaughlin ’73; married to Debbie O’Donnell ’74
Grayson Vasconcelos and his namesake.

Grayson Vasconcelos and his namesake.

I met my husband, Dan, in the elevator of Grayson Hall. I commented on the Simon and Garfunkel record he was carrying, and he said something pompous about hosting his own radio show on WOCH (the soon-to-be defunct campus radio station broadcast on cable TV and located on Grayson’s first floor), not knowing I also had my own show on the same station. Our second meeting was the following year when Dan, as an RA, checked me into my room in Van Meter. He recognized my name from the radio station, and we bonded over our shared love of music. We became friends and kept in touch by email after graduation. Five years later, we finally found ourselves back in the same area, and—long story short—got married and had a couple of kids. We named our first son Grayson, after the dorm where we first met.

Shannon Barry Vasconcelos ’01; married to Dan Vasconcelos ’99

My wife and I met outside Dickinson Hall freshman year. She was outside stretching after a run. I was on the UMass cross-country team and she was on the track and field team. Years later, I proposed on the UMass cross-country course. I tried several times to get Deanna to stop running, but it was very difficult so eventually I just stopped, she looked confused since I almost never stopped on a run, and then I dropped on one knee. The rest is history. Former men’s head coach Ken O’Brien says we are the first on the team to have been engaged there and it’s part of the team lore.

Andrew Erwin ’12; married to Deanna Julian Erwin ’12

I was an avid reader of his editorials in the Collegian and thought he was cute, based on the photo that accompanied the articles. A mutual friend who worked at the Collegian introduced us at the “Bowl Dance” at Orchard Hill. . . and that was that!

Suzie Forte Schulze ’02; married to Robert Schulze ’02, ’13G

We heard from a lot of Band-os!

I met my fiancé during UMass Minuteman Marching Band camp while I was fitting him for marching band uniform pants. My parents met in marching band and his parents met at UMass, so it’s only fitting that the UMMB brought us together.

Morgan Farrar ’17; engaged to Matt Lydigsen ’17
 

A Gallery of UMass Amherst Couples