People emerge from Concordia with many things: a college degree, lifelong friends, irreplaceable experiences, and some even a spouse. Couples have been meeting in our halls since the college went coed in 1965.


In romantic comedies, a “meet-cute” is the serendipitous meeting of the two characters that will later fall in love. From the bluff to the Nest and everywhere in between, “meet cutes” are inevitable. As a celebration of Valentine’s Day we have gathered a few love stories, date ideas, and special places on campus from Concordia alumni. These are their stories, and we love that we are a part of them.

Did you also meet your spouse at Concordia? Fill out this survey if you have interest in a CUW couples reunion in 2020. Click here to learn more.

Ginny (’72) and John Oberdeck (’72)

How did you meet? 

We met 50 years ago in November of 1968. Ginny was a junior at Milwaukee Lutheran High School and I was a junior at Concordia College High School. This was during the time that Concordia was a four-year all-male boarding high school and two-year junior college in which all the students were in either a pastor or teacher track for The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. Following the annual Milwaukee Lutheran High School/Concordia High School football game, Concordia hosted a dance in the gym on the old Milwaukee campus. Since Concordia was all-male, and MLHS had a preponderance of female students, many girls from MLHS came to dances held by Concordia. Ginny is rather tall and had several short friends with whom she came. I spotted her easily and asked her to dance. The picture above, taken in 2015 by CUW’s Director of Alumni Relations Mickie Wagner, shows us together on the spot where we first met.

Did you have a favorite date on campus?

After we both graduated from our respective high schools, we both went to Concordia Junior College. I was an RA in the high school dormitory and Ginny was a “swift,” a commuting student. We don’t have a favorite date, but we do have a most memorable. We both were involved in Concordia’s production of “Camelot” our sophomore year at the Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee during the winter of 1972. In preparation for the show  we were working on sets late into the evening. One night, a snowstorm came through along with subzero temperatures. We had borrowed Ginny’s father’s car to get to the Pabst. At 1:00 a.m. we completed the set-work, exited the theater, and discovered the car wouldn’t start. Thankfully, Ginny’s dad came to our rescue with their other car at 2:00 a.m.

Did you have any special places on campus?

Ginny lived on S. 16th St., and later S. 43rd street, so we spent a lot of time at her home. We both graduated from the Junior College in 1972. Ginny graduated from Concordia Chicago (River Forest) and I graduated from Concordia Senior College (Fort Wayne) in 1974. After dating for six years we were married on December 29, 1974 at Trinity-Freistadt Lutheran Church in Mequon. Before retirement Ginny was a special education teacher. I was a pastor, seminary professor, and professor at CUW. Now, we have three children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Trey (’86, ’97) and Janell (’87) Cox

How did you meet?

We met at Janell’s Freshmen Orientation dance in 1983 that was held in the parking lot where the current fieldhouse is now. I was a sophomore at the time and was with my cousin, Paul Keiper, (Dr. Val Keiper’s brother) and told him as soon as I saw Janell that I was going to marry her! I had never done that before. Janell and I started up an initial friendship that night and I decided to make my move because she was “it”. During our education classes together with my cousin, Dr. Keiper, I made sure to sit next to her and try to “work my magic”. We started dating soon after but Janell decided that she wanted to see other people. I agreed with her and then promptly asked her suitemate out on a date. The very next day Janell caught me in the hallway and told me that she wanted to only date me. Obviously, my strategy to win her heart worked out.

Did you have a favorite date on campus?

A year or so after we became exclusive we were walking down the hallway together on campus late one night and I asked her to step in to the CUW chapel. Unbeknownst to me, a piano student was in there playing beautiful music and candles were lit all the way up and down the rows of pews. I could not have set the scene any better! I walked Janell up towards the front of the chapel and got down on one of the kneelers and asked her to marry me. She said, “Yes”! A few years later, we got married in the CUW chapel on June 27, 1987 by Pastor Tim Maschke and will be married 32 years this June.

Did you have a special place on campus?

We loved to hike down to the shoreline of the lake. Back then that was a major effort because there wasn’t a clear path and you had to almost be Indiana Jones and fight through the brush and climb down steep walls.

Jenny (’05) and PJ (’04) Winkelman

How did you meet?

We met for the first time in the CUW fieldhouse during a basketball practice.  For anyone that knows PJ, this will come as no surprise. He was serving as the gym monitor and helping with a basketball practice that my roommate was participating in.  We were introduced through mutual friends and then reconnected in the hallways of Wittenberg just a few days later. I was a freshman and he was a junior. We both agree we knew there was something special after that first meeting.

Did you have a favorite date on campus?

We had many dates at Concordia, including eating at the Falcons Nest, taking walks by the bluff (before it was all constructed beautifully and safe to walk around),  and a lot of PJ visiting me in the library where I spent a lot of time. PJ claims he didn’t even know it existed before he met me! We also had several dates at The Chancery, Dairy Queen, Leonardos, the movie theatre, and lots of other Mequon establishments close by.

Doug (’10) and Michelle (’13) Bender

How did you meet?

Michelle and I met during her freshman year and my junior year at Concordia. We were both attending a Relient K concert at The Rave in Milwaukee. I saw Michelle with some mutual friends from CUW and managed to stand next to her at the show. We bonded over our shared love of Christian punk rock music and became fast friends. I tried to protect her from a crowd of moshers at the concert, but little did I know—Michelle was not a woman in need of protecting.

Did you have a special place on campus?

We spent a lot of time in the Regents 2nd floor lounge. We both love ping pong and are fiercely competitive. We would end up playing until 2 or 3 in the morning on weeknights. Those memories are vivid—the days after were a bit blurry!

— Madelyne Arrigoni is a freshman studying English and Mass Communications. She plans to graduate in 2022.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.