Wittenberg is where love happens apparently, at least it has for 2,612 of the University's alumni couples. For many of them, their love story first began in the University's idyllic residential setting, and today they share a few of their stories.
For Ken ’68 and Patricia Richmond Benne ’68, it was an “accidental” slip after their western civilization class that placed them on a path to 49 years of a happy marriage.
"We met during freshman week in 1964," Pat Benne recalls. "We saw each other daily before we actually met as we had three classes together – western civilization, psychology and religion.
"One day after our western civilization class, as we were cutting across the campus behind Myers Hall, I slipped, and Ken came to my rescue. (Ken thinks I slipped on purpose!) After that, we were together for most of our four years and were married in a blizzard in Cleveland, Ohio, on Dec. 28, 1968. We just recently celebrated our 49th anniversary.
"Wittenberg has been central in our lives for almost 50 years. We were so fortunate to raise a family, work, live and play in a supportive educational community of faculty, staff, administrators and, of course, the wonderful students and alumni of the university.
"We both feel we have been able to make a difference in the lives we have touched especially through my teaching, counseling and supervision of our future teachers and through Ken’s passion for recruiting and bringing students to Wittenberg. In our later careers, we were both able to engage or bring back many of our alumni into the Wittenberg family. Additionally, Springfield has been a great partner in Wittenberg’s success and our family’s happiness.
Ken Benne, originally from West Point, Neb., earned a master’s degree in education from the University of Rochester and his M.Div. from Colgate Rochester School of Divinity. A captain and four-year letter winner on Wittenberg’s football team, Ken was also a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He started working at Wittenberg in 1972 as an admission counselor and later became the dean of admission and financial aid before moving to the Office of Advancement, where he currently serves as a major development officer.
Pat Benne, originally from Cleveland and a member of the Syncopates, Kappa Delta sorority, Ohio Student Education Association and Kappa Delta Epsilon Education honorary during her student years, taught elementary school for four years in Rochester before returning to Springfield. While working at Wittenberg, she supervised student teachers in the education department and served as the alumni relations director (2001-05). After retiring from the position, she returned to working part-time in the education department for the next 10 years, supervising student teachers. The couple has lived in Springfield since 1972. They have three sons and nine grandchildren.
For Eddie ’75 and Wendy Williams Ford ’76 it was simply a dance.
"It was the 1970’s. We wore bellbottoms and platform shoes," Wendy Ford remembers. "The sounds of the Spinners, Carly Simon, and many others could be heard on campus."
Eddie, a Wittenberg basketball player, shared a house with another basketball player and three football players. Frequently, they hosted parties. Wendy attended one of the parties with some of her friends. Eddie asked her to dance. They continued to dance, laugh and talk at the party.
"We have been dancing, laughing and talking for over 35 years. Thanks Wittenberg!
Eddie graduated from Wittenberg in 1975 and Wendy a year later.They later married and decided to make Springfield their home. Both are retired teachers and administrators from the Springfield City School District. The couple has two children, Lindsay and Tyler.
Eddie, born in Dayton, Ohio, excelled at basketball and was a member of the Concerned Black Students. He was a four-year starter for the Tigers after earning a spot as a walk-on. During his collegiate career, Wittenberg posted four-year records of 78-26 overall and 40-9 in their conference, winning three regular season titles and three conference tournament crowns. Eddie led the Tigers in scoring both his sophomore and junior seasons and finished his career with 1,025 points earning him a spot in Wittenberg’s Athletics Hall of Honor in 2012. A team captain in 1974-75, he also helped Wittenberg to three NCAA Division III tournament appearances, including a berth in the quarterfinal round during his senior year. Eddie also enjoyed an illustrious career as head basketball coach at Springfield North for 19 years. He currently serves on the Developmental Disabilities of Clark County Board.
Wendy is originally from Springfield and was a 1972 graduate of South High School before attending Wittenberg. During her time at Wittenberg, she served on the Union Board and was a member of Concerned Black Students. She currently serves on several boards and is vice president of the Wittenberg Guild.
Have your own Wittenberg love story to share? Email University Communications at firstname.lastname@example.org.