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Cupid's arrows hit their mark in 50 years of campus romance

UCalgary love stories abound, from the first sparks to keeping the fire burning
February 14, 2017
Kelly Johnson, BEd’92, and Barb Johnson (nee Bittle), BScN’93, will be married 27 years in 2017. They met at UCalgary as students and now have their own crop of future grads, from left, Courtney, Logan, Barb, Kelly, Erica, Aimee.

Kelly Johnson, BEd’92, and Barb Johnson (nee Bittle), BScN’93, will be married 27 years in 2017. They met at UCalgary as students and now have their own crop of future grads, from left, Courtney, Logan, Barb, Kelly, Erica, Aimee.  

They first met on a house-building trip to Mexico that Kelly led. Cupid’s arrow didn’t strike on that trip, but a few years love struck on another house-building trip and the rest, as they say, is history. From left, Kelly Johnson, Janette Funk (nee Likely),  BN'08, and Darcy Funk, BSc(Eng)'06.

They first met on a house-building trip to Mexico that Kelly led. Cupid’s arrow didn’t strike on that trip, but a few years love struck on another house-building trip and the rest, as they say, is history. From left, Kelly Johnson, Janette Funk (nee Likely),  BN'08, and Darcy Funk, BSc (Eng)'06. 

Waiting in line for a coffee at Mac Hall, plunking down next to someone the first day of class or signing up to volunteer: loads of people — students, faculty and staff — have met through UCalgary and gone on to fall in love.

Take Kelly Johnson and his wife, Barb. They were set up by mutual friends and met for their first date on campus. He was in his second year education and she was about to start her nursing degree.

“We went on a tour of campus,” he says. “I talked the whole time and put everything out there about what I was interested in life. I remember being outside of MacEwan Student Centre and talking about the great energy and vitality of campus.”

That was back in 1989. The couple got married the following summer.

Chaplain may have been secret matchmaker

You’d be hard pressed to document the thousands of love stories that have started on campus over the last 50 years. But Johnson, the chaplain for University Campus Ministries (part of the Faith and Spirituality Centre), has better luck counting how many wedding ceremonies he’s performed.

“I’ve married more than a dozen couples over the years,” he says. “A couple of them have been students who met on our service learning trips, building a home in Mexico or Dominican Republic.”

Like Janette and Darcy Funk. They first met on an “old Greyhound bus” with 20 other students en route to Juarez, Mexico. But she was "kind of, sort of, seeing someone." A few years later, Johnson asked if they’d like to lead their own trip, and shortly after, Janette and Darcy started dating. Eight years ago, Johnson married them.

“We still think that Kelly was secretly doing some matchmaking when he asked us to lead that trip,” says Janette.

 Advice for a long, happy marriage: appreciate and support your partner

Getting married is the easy part. Keeping your love alive can take work, says Johnson, who counsels couples on communication, conflict resolution, finances, spirituality, and intimacy. “It all boils down to finding ways to appreciate the person and stay informed on their likes and dislikes,” says Johnson. “Look out for each other. Nurture the friendship every day.”

On Valentines’ Day, along with eating chocolate, Johnson suggests taking the opportunity to “develop a greater understanding of how your partner is changing and growing, and how you can support them in their growth.”

Janette Funk has a Valentines’ Day tip, too: “Spend time together and put your phones away!”

Valentine’s Day is once a year, but as you’ve just read, love stories can be found all year round at UCalgary. Is it the all-night study sessions, the busy hallways, the late nights at the library, or the water? Whatever it is, we’re celebrating 50 years of love. #ucalgary50

Read how other UCalgary couples started their forever after and 
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