Part 2: Where 10 famous former Illini met their future spouses

Part 2: Where 10 famous former Illini met their future spouses

More than a few of the most famous former Illini left C-U with something more meaningful than Ph.D.s or patents. Campustown is also where they found the one they'd spend the rest of their lives with. As part of our run-up to the UI's 150th birthday, these are their stories.

STEVE WEATHERFORD
(BS '05, kinesiology)
Punted for Super Bowl champion New York Giants

Steve and Laura Weatherford never tire of telling their four kids the story of how they met — minus a few details.

The truth: Pops, then a top high school prospect from Terre Haute, Ind., was in town on his football recruiting visit and first laid eyes on his future bride at that must-stop Campustown landmark ... Joe's Brewery.

"Every time we drive by the pub now," he says, "we point out the window and tell our four kids: 'That is the library where daddy and mommy met. Mommy was reading a book, and daddy was doing a science experiment on his liver.'"

MOHAMED EL-ASHRY
(MS, Ph.D. '66, geology)
Senior Fellow, United Nations Foundation

Not far from where Nobel Prize-winning economist Al Roth met wife Emilie — "at a meeting of the folk dance club" in the second-floor ballroom of the Illini Union, he says — El-Ashry had his own life-changing experience.

Back in the '60s, the Union was a favorite hangout for international students like the Egyptian-born El-Ashry. He spent more time there than anywhere on campus, "eating, socializing, bowling, playing chess" — and meeting the love of his life, Pat, an undergrad studying journalism at the time.

"We have been married now for 54 years, have two beautiful and smart daughters and four grandchildren," he says. "And we owe it all to that meeting in 1962 at the Illini Union."

DONN PALL
(BS '85, math/computer science)
VP, Morgan Stanley

A live-and-learn life lesson from the guy who'd go on to pitch for the White Sox for six of his 10 major-league seasons: "Don't try to make a study date before finals with a girl you really like."

The all-Big Ten ace learned this the hard way, when he asked future wife Katie if she'd study with him in an empty classroom in Lincoln Hall. "I wanted to ask her out on a date but she wasn't ready for all that with me yet. So I talked her into studying with me.

"The thing is, all I could think of was her so I got absolutely no studying done. I would talk to her, try to think of clever things to make her like me more and imagine going out with her. The bad news was I did very poorly on the final exam that I was supposed to be studying for. I almost failed the class.

"The good news is we eventually started dating a number of years later and I somehow convinced her to marry me."

BRYAN 'FLEA' ENGEL
(BS '88, kinesiology)
Head athletic trainer Green Bay Packers

Every story the fifth head trainer in Packers history tells about his Illini experience must start with the White Horse Inn, back when it was on Green Street.

"A fine establishment to get not only a cold beverage but also a good chicken wing," he says. "It is also where a good friend of mine introduced me to her best friend, which she had been threatening to do for months. Twenty years and three sons later, we still think about the White Horse Inn."

KIMBALL ANDERSON
(BA '74, political science; JD '77, law)
Partner, Winston & Strawn

Romantic that the 1970 Urbana High grad was, Anderson's idea of a hot date went a little something like this: "Drive around campus on my Vespa motor scooter with (wife-to-be) Karen on the back and distribute register-to-vote fliers to the fraternities, sororities and dorms.

"She married me anyway in 1974, joined me at the University of Illinois College of Law, became a lawyer and somehow remains married to me after 42 years."

ROB JUDSON
(BA '80, liberal arts)
Assistant basketball coach, Indiana University

Forty years later, the former Illini basketball guard and assistant coach still remembers exactly where he was when he laid eyes on his soulmate.

"It was September of my sophomore year. After class in Altgeld Hall, I was on my way to the Quad when I saw an absolutely beautiful freshman girl named Kim McCarty. We had met during new student week, so I went over to her and we talked a while. I asked for her phone number and called her the next day to set our first date."

June marked the Judsons' 35th year of marriage.

CLIFFORD SAPER
(BS, MS '72, biology)
Head, Neurology Department, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

The Harvard professor made up for it later in life, but the future groundbreaking neuroscience researcher's first project — in a lab here, as a 1960s undergrad — was something of a whiff.

"It was badly designed — by me — to require injecting rats with a drug that I hoped would affect their memory. The animals required three injections, at four-hour intervals prior to testing their memory, and for some reason I decided that I needed to do the actual behavioral testing in the morning. So I had to come in at midnight, 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. the night before I did the behavioral experiment to inject the rats. I remember taking my future wife on a date that was interrupted by having to come in to inject the rats."

ROB KENNEDY
(BS '78, electrical engineering)
Co-President, C-SPAN

The South Sixth Street spot where the cable television lifer met the former Cynthia Marchigiani is no more. "Sadly, Second Chance burned down in 1977. But Cynthia and I were married in 1979, and our flame is still lit after 37 years — and counting."

SCOTT ATLAS
(BS '77, biology)
Senior Fellow, Stanford's Hoover Institution

No surprise that one of the world's most acclaimed neuroradiologists fell in love in the undergraduate library. Specifically, "the underground vending machine tunnel," he says. "I used to take study breaks there, often convincing my more studious future wife — Janice Rossi, also an undergrad — to stop studying and take breaks with me during sophomore and junior years. We would sit there for hours and talk."

They've been married for 34 years and have two sons, aged 20 and 22.

DAN BALZ
(BS, MS '72, journalism)
Chief Correspondent, The Washington Post

The Daily Illini's editor-in-chief the year the UI turned 100 met his wife at — where else — the basement of Illini Hall, then home to the student newspaper.

"We've been together ever since," says Balz, who can still recall in detail post-deadline coffee and conversation gatherings at Uncle John's Pancake House. "We could sit and talk into the wee hours for the price of a few cups of coffee — then at prices far lower than your typical latte of today."

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