“It was inevitable we’d meet,” he said, although they had only a nodding acquaintance for several years before he finally asked her out. “I didn’t have anything in particular to talk to her about,” he said, adding that he had been trying to think of an excuse to ask her out. “She was a cute single gal,” he said, noting that the opportunities for social interaction are more difficult in Johnstown than in a larger city such as Pittsburgh. “If you’re an intellectual, your opportunity to find someone who’s an intellectual who’s single anywhere near your age is not great,” said Allan, who has taught at UPJ for 29 years. “I didn’t know if she’d be interested in me, but she said yeah, and the rest’s history,” he said.
Sharon agreed with her husband’s assessment of the small-town dating scene, adding that she was in her mid-30s when the two met. She said she’d come to terms with being single and figured that romance, if it happened, would come along in its own good time.
Their first date was at an Italian restaurant. He had a pair of relatives coming into town and asked her to join them. “He thought it was a good excuse to ask me out, it would be practical to have four people,” she recalled. “I basically said yes because he seemed like a nice guy and I didn’t have anything better to do.”
A relative newcomer to UPJ, she’d been on campus less than three years when they began dating. Admitting that she’s “known far and wide for poor character judgment,” Sharon said she asked around to be sure he wasn’t a masher. But she also credits her colleagues for keeping silent about her husband’s “troublemaker” reputation — he’s outspoken on campus issues — and letting her form her own opinion. She soon found him to be a “great match” and, reputation notwithstanding, “a genuinely nice guy.”
Even the relatives who shared their first date were nice.
After dating 10 months, the pair made wedding plans and married in the Johnstown campus chapel a year and a half later.
She admits she considered the implications of dating in the workplace. “You always hear it’s something you shouldn’t do,” she said. While she said she never could have dated someone within her department, she reasoned that because she and Allan don’t interact much on campus and had separate circles of friends, if something in the relationship had gone awry, “I could pretty much go my way and he could have gone his,” she said.
Unlike some married couples who work closely together, theirs is not a problem of too much togetherness in the workplace because their commitments and teaching schedules rarely align. “Once we get to school, I hardly ever see him,” she said.
The only disadvantage is in occasionally bringing campus issues home. “Sometimes we do argue about campus politics,” Allan said, noting that it’s not unusual for couples to disagree. “Anybody’s going to argue,” he said. “But occasionally we just have to stop the discussion. We agree to disagree agreeably.”
—Kimberly K. Barlow, via University Times