Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Alumni couples reminisce about finding their forever valentines at Northwestern

Illustration by Misha Oberoi
From dorms to classes to parties, love was all around campus for these alumni couples.

When Bridgett Baron (Communication ’91) began dating Matt Baron (Medill ’90) in her junior year at Northwestern, she said she told him, “You’re not supposed to be in my life right now. You’re 15 years too early.” 

The Barons, who first met at a co-ed touch football game organized by their respective Greek organizations, have now been married for almost 30 years. 

Bridgett said she never expected to find her future husband in college, but life had other plans for her. Matt proposed to her on an airplane in January of 1993, two years after she graduated from NU. 

“I didn’t have a lot in the way of resources,” he said. “I couldn’t buy a huge ring or do it in some exotic location, so I thought, ‘What’s something that’ll surprise her?’”

He also joked that the journalist in him felt it would make for a good story. 

Despite their love for theatrics, the Barons have always kept it simple when it comes to Valentine’s Day. 

Matt said he sticks to the “ground rules,” which involve getting Bridgett — who he endearingly calls “Birdie” — dark chocolate and flowers (never red roses, which she dislikes). He also always writes her a card. 

The couple explained that the meaning of Valentine’s Day has evolved for them after being together for decades. 

“Not that there’s not romance, but there’s also the idea of love being more of a commitment, and love being more of a choice than a feeling — that I choose to love you,” Bridgett said.

Matt and Bridgett Baron. (Illustration by Samantha Powers)

Matt and Bridgett also have a daughter at NU, Medill junior Maggie Rose Baron. 

Maggie Rose Baron, who is now older than her parents were when they met, said she cannot imagine meeting someone she’s going to spend the rest of her life with now. Still, she said she feels lucky to have parents like Matt and Bridgett Baron. 

“I feel like there was a lot of love in our home growing up,” she said. 

Scott Ryles (Weinberg ’81) and Marcia Ryles (Medill ’81) found love within the rustic dorm walls of Willard Residential College. 

The two first met at Willard, but Scott Ryles insisted that he truly fell “head over heels” for Marcia Ryles when he saw her at Deering Library the following week. 

“There was this very attractive, cute girl who I recognized from earlier,” Scott said. “Her hair was like Dorothy Hamill and she just looked so cute.”  

But, everything didn’t go quite as planned. For his birthday party, Scott Ryles told his friend to invite “the cute girl from the third floor of Chapin” and instead got Marcia Ryles’ across-the-hall neighbor. A confused Scott Ryles began dating the neighbor and only realized his mistake when he saw Marcia again two weeks later.

Too bad for the neighbor, the rest is history.

Scott and Marcia Ryles got married in 1982 and have been together ever since. 

Scott and Marcia Ryles. (Illustration by Samantha Powers)

For them, Valentine’s Day is a family affair. The Ryles have a tradition of hosting “all-red” Valentine’s dinners where every food item — down to the dessert — is dyed red. 

But their love story doesn’t end there. Finding love at NU seems to run in the Ryles family. 

Emily Ryles (Communication ’15) and Dr. Emily Bacalao (Communication ’15) met at a fraternity party and had their first kiss on the bus on their way back. 

“I didn’t know anybody in that fraternity, nor did I wanna go,” Bacalao said. But after taking her chance at the party, Bacalao ended up finding her forever valentine. 

To her, Valentine’s Day is reminiscent of the time she first met Scott and Marcia Ryles. They spent the day at a restaurant in Beaver Creek, Colorado. 

She also said the Ryles family enjoys giving gifts to one another on Valentine’s Day. 

“It’s like the aftermath of Christmas for me,” she said. 

Emily Ryles and Dr. Emily Bacalao. (Illustration by Samantha Powers)

Emily Ryles said that, more than Valentine’s Day, she vividly remembers the ‘Galentine’s Days’ she celebrated at NU.  

“For us, Valentine’s is as much about celebrating each other as it is about just generally the people we love in our lives,” Emily Ryles said.

Stephen Herr (Weinberg ’72) and Beth Kupper-Herr (Weinberg ’72) met in an anthropology class their senior year. 

Although they gave each other gifts on the first few Valentine’s Days they spent together, they haven’t done so for years. 

Stephen Herr and Beth Kupper-Herr. (Illustration by Samantha Powers)

For the Herrs’ relationship, the biggest means of celebration has been travel, they said. 

Within two months of being together, they hitchhiked from Chicago to New York in 24 hours in March of 1972. Since then, they have backpacked together across Southeast Asia, gone to graduate school together in Hawaii and taught English in places like Indonesia and Malaysia. 

“We were fortunate to meet each other, both like travel, and make it a top priority,” Stephen Herr said. 

They got married in the Chapel of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in 1974. They plan to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year.

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