Niagara Love Stories
Many Niagara University students have met, fallen in love, and married, thanks to their time on Monteagle Ridge. Here are a few of those stories:
We were both in a criminal procedure course; this is where we met. Ray was a freshman and Brittany a sophomore. Ray and Brittany were both athletes -- Ray a swimmer and Brittany played soccer. Ray had a Mohawk and then shaved it off for the big meet. Brittany hadn't been talking to Ray, even though Ray had been staring at her for weeks! It took one elevator ride for Ray to add Brittany to AIM. From there, the rest is history. A dog, three apartments, a J.D. degree, a master's degree, a new home, and a baby, and now the family is complete!
Raymond, '09, and Brittany (Bisnott) DeWire, '08
I met Jackie Werner (Class of 1963) the first day I was at Niagara. She was in front of me in the registration line. I was New York cool –– she thought I was a jerk. For the next two years we went our separate ways. But deep down I always knew there was something special about her. After junior year spring break, we started dating. We married in February 1964, (and we're) still married after 51 years.
Bob Reiley, '63
Jeff and I met through Niagara's ROTC Eagle Battalion during our sophomore year. I received a three-year ROTC nursing scholarship and had little prior military knowledge. I asked Jeff, who attended Army boot camp and airborne school, to help me shine my boots. We were inseparable for the next two years of college and were married in Niagara University's Alumni Chapel by Father Michael Shea on Aug. 25, 1990. Our wedding reception dinner was in Clet dining hall, followed by dancing at the Rathskeller. David Beardi, '90, was in our military honor guard. Cheryl (Abramaitys) Tavano, '89, Jill (Strassburg) McNeil, '91, and Delia Sheridan, '92, were in our wedding party. We currently reside in Stafford, Va., with our two children, Andy, 24, and Emily, 18.
Jeff, '91, and Debbie (Marciniak) Abramaitys, '91
The first time I saw Mike, he was sitting alone at the "Last Chance Mass" in Alumni Chapel in 2003. "Last Chance Mass," of course, being the 10 p.m. Mass on Sundays. I remember thinking to myself how nice it was for a handsome young man to be attending Mass alone. Michael will tell you that the first time he remembers seeing me was at Eucharistic training. Either way, we both knew that the other had some level of faith, some level of goodness inside.
Soon after, we both signed up to participate in Campus Ministry's BASIC trip -- a service opportunity taking NU students to a different city, or even a different country, for a week to serve the community there. This ranges from feeding the poor, to visiting retired priests, to spending time with inner-city children. Mike and I didn't speak to each other very much during this trip. We had different friends and were just too shy, I guess, to initiate conversation. But again, seeing each other during this trip caught our attention. We had something more in common -- a desire to serve others.
A few months later, we happened to run into each other one night in Buffalo. Having crossed paths a few times already, we finally talked to each other and exchanged phone numbers before parting. Soon, we started dating and -- you guessed it -- we began attending "Last Chance Mass" together in Alumni Chapel.
We were married in 2006 and today, we are happy, faith-filled partners for life and proud parents of three daughters!
Michael, '04, and Sarah (Telatnik) Ambrosia,04
We met in the fall of 2001 as college sophomores. We both lived in Seton Hall that year, Andy as an RA and Meredith as a second-year resident. After meeting through mutual friends, we both started seeing more of each other around the dorm and around campus as well. It didn’t take long after meeting for us to realize that we both had a lot in common and begin dating. After graduation, Andy got a teaching position in Meredith’s hometown and moved to begin his life there. In July of 2006, we got married back where it all started five years earlier, at the Alumni Chapel on the NU campus. Little did we know when we picked Niagara as our college that we would graduate with degrees as well as someone to share our lives with!
Andy, ’04, and Meredith (Plankenhorn) Maillet, ’04
I first saw my future wife, Jan Whistler, ’71, at the La Hacienda restaurant in the fall of 1968. Don’t know if it was love at first sight, but she was definitely someone I wanted to know better. I had that opportunity on the night of Dec. 7, 1968, when the 1956 Buick owned by Dave (The Commander) Frank, ’69, did not start and we decided to go to the on-campus beer blast in the student center. I was formally introduced to Jan, and as they say, the rest is history. We’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in September 2011.
Peter Beaucar, ’69
He was the science guy; I was the artsy girl. We started out as best friends and the rest is history. Todd Janicki, ’99, and I met in the Clet Hall dorm. I chose to live in Clet Hall because it was the theatre dorm. Todd was placed in Clet Hall because it was the only dorm with an honors floor. Eventually my friends and I on the fourth floor couldn’t resist meeting the honors guys on the third floor. I think we were initially attracted to the personal computer lab they had on their floor, and eventually we all became friends. It’s hard to say if we would ever have met if we didn’t start out in the same dorm.
Jennifer (Celebucki) Janicki, ’99
Here is the story of how I met Sue Francis, ’96, the love of my life. In the fall of 1994, I was the orientation chairperson and she was a junior transferring into NU. We met during orientation week activities and later saw each other outside of Ontario House, a bar in downtown Niagara Falls back in the ’90s. We started dating and I proposed in October of 1996. We wed on Aug. 23, 1997. We visit NU occasionally and reflect back on all the fond memories where we met and the fun times we had with our NU friends!
Michael Townsend, ’96
A blessed, imperfect, blissful life together. That’s what we’ve enjoyed for over 32 years now as husband and wife — and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
Our friendship quickly turned to “he’s/she’s the one” love back in 1975 when we were students at Niagara University. Fred Heuer, ’77, was a marketing major from Niagara Falls and I was an English/ communications studies major from Lewiston. We shared a lot of the same commuter friends and marveled that we had never met each other when we went to neighboring high schools, Bishop Duffy and Madonna.
Right away, there was laughter, chemistry, and mutual respect between us. I was quiet, artistic, and studious and he was gregarious, athletic, and studious. We looked forward to bumping into each other in the student center between classes and decided to date only on the weekends — since we were both on the dean’s list and wanted to keep it that way.
Corny as it sounds, our romance blossomed at NU. We went to basketball games and disco dances in the Gallagher Center, saw NU Theatre productions at the Leary Theatre, and enjoyed Fred’s fraternity parties for underprivileged children on campus. We even tried out the tennis courts — but Fred quickly discovered athleticism didn’t run in my family. Still, I cheered him on at his NU softball and community league baseball games.
We saw the latest movies and concerts together and I wrote reviews for The Index. And Fred and his fraternity brothers helped me coordinate haunted houses, dance-a-thons and a pizza-eating contest for the March of Dimes, one of my college jobs.
On a trip to visit my sister and her husband in California during Christmas break in January 1977, we got engaged. Our parents were thrilled to hear the news, but reminded us that we both had to graduate before saying “I do.”
Four months later, Fred graduated. Campus felt different without him there, but we both carried on, knowing he was saving up for our first home and I would graduate in December. Back in the day, many baby boomers married young. I was nearly 22 and Fred was 23 when we wed. Like many of our peers, we lived with our parents until the “big day” arrived.
On Aug. 12, 1978, we pledged our love for one another in Niagara University’s Alumni Chapel in front of more than 100 family members and friends.
James C. Dobson wrote “Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.” Fred and I had both dated other people before we met, but we both knew after our first date that we were meant for each other. We truly felt then — and believe with all our hearts today — that God brought us together.
Ann Rooney Heuer, ’78
Jennifer Curro, ’02, and I met during our freshman year while swimming on the swim team. We began dating the end of our freshman year. Although we did not stay together through the summer, we remained friends. Over the Christmas holiday in our junior year, we began dating again. We got engaged during Christmas break in our senior year at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and were married on July 19, 2003, at Alumni Chapel.
Jared M. House, ’02
Our love story began as the freshman Class of 1961 arrived on campus in the fall of 1957. While taking photos for The Index and yearbook, I spotted my enthusiastic future bride, Mary Jo Confrancesco, in her Class of ’61 “dink.” Shortly thereafter, I invited her to a ROTC affair at the Fort Niagara Officer’s Club and thus began our 53-year relationship and our 49-year marriage. Has it all been peaches and cream? Of course not. We’ve had our highs and lows, but through it all, we have asked the Lord’s help and guidance. We have continued our friendship with several classmates and Vincentians. We look forward to many more fruitful years.
Walter Engels, ’59
We met at Niagara while registering for cl asses in 1988. Ann was from West Winfield, N.Y., and Jeff was from New Hartford, N.Y., only about a 20-minute drive between us. Throughout our four years at Niagara, we built a friendship while taking classes together and heading out downtown for friendly games of darts. Frequently we would carpool home on breaks and sometimes took the same train back to central New York on holidays. While we were never romantically involved during our Niagara days, we grew as close as two people could be who had different class schedules and circles of friends. After graduating in 1992, Jeff moved downstate to begin his teaching career, while Ann married and settled down in Cooperstown, N.Y., and taught in a nearby school district.
We spoke on the phone briefly in the early ’90s, but at that time it was obvious our lives were on different tracks. Years went by and Jeff thought of Ann often. He tried to find her online and, although that wasn’t as easy as it might be now, on Sept. 20, 2010, he found her; she was teaching English in Cooperstown. Jeff sent her an e-mail message, telling her as much as he could about the past 18 years since they had seen each other. When Ann responded, she told him that she was divorced.
We decided to get together about a week later and suddenly all the emotion and familiarity came rushing back to both of us. We sat and talked for hours, looking and laughing through yearbooks and trading war stories from our respective teaching careers and our personal lives. Neither of us ever realized that a romance was blooming that afternoon. Later that evening, the two long-lost friends kissed and resumed a relationship that started more than two decades ago in Gallagher Center on the campus of Niagara University.
Ann (Senif) Olmstead, ’92, and Jeff Owens, ’92
We met during orientation week outside Vinnie’s as we were preparing to walk to the Falls. I saw Bernadette Gaughan, ’81, and I knew right then she would be the girl for me. We never dated at Niagara, but my friend Patrick Nerney, ’81, and Bernadette’s friend Stephanie (Nannery) Nerney, ’81, got us together in Baltimore the summer after we graduated. We got married on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1984.
Michael J. DePrez, ’81
It is said that going away to college is a life-changing experience. My wife, Mary Leising-Marciano, ’72, and I are living proof of this statement. We met the first day of registration freshman year playing “musical chairs” as we waited in line to see the dean of each of the departments we were in during the arena registration in the upper level of the Gallagher Center. From that day on, our relationship developed and grew, as we did, during our four years at Niagara. This year we are celebrating our 38th year of marriage.
There were challenges right from the start. Mary was living off campus at the Red Coach Inn. We would see each other at the student center between classes and I would rely on the Niagara Falls transit system to see Mary on weekends. In those days, underclassmen were not allowed to have cars on campus.
Dates were walking excursions to the movie houses and the other tourist attractions in the Falls. These “walking dates” became more difficult in the late fall and winter when the winds off Monteagle Ridge were fierce. Thank God for floor-length maxi coats! This time together gave us the opportunity to really get to know each other, including our past as well as our hopes for the future.
Over the years, our feet and our eyes must have touched every spot associated with the breathless beauty around us. One wintry Saturday afternoon, we walked across the Rainbow Bridge into Canada. It was on that cold day in the garden at the base of Clifton Hill that I proposed to Mary.
One month after graduation, we were married. We rented an apartment in Niagara Falls and had our honeymoon there.
Every time we think of Niagara, we think of how much it is a part of our lives. We still meet with old classmates to have a pizza at La Hacienda or to watch a Purple Eagle team in action. Niagara is the place where we received more than a solid education and values. It is where we found true love.
Sam Marciano, ’72
Tell us your Niagara Love Story!
We would love to learn more about YOUR Niagara love story! Send it (with a photo, if you'd like) to Lisa McMahon, associate director for alumni and development communications.