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Alumni Spotlight

Love Ribbon
A Drexel Love Story

John Wagner
Class of 1950, Chemical Engineering

&

Mary Dunlap Wagner
Class of 1946, Home Economics


Mary and John Wagner's love story began more than 66 years ago.

It was while they were waiting in line to register for their summer classes on June 26, 1944, that they first met. John was beginning his sophomore year, Mary, having just transferred to Drexel from another school, was a junior.

"It was a big, long line that was moving slowly," Mary recalled. "You had to do something to pass the time so we talked to the people around us."

Mary and John and their respective groups of friends began talking and, according to John, it didn't take long for him to become interested in one particular girl.

John and Mary Wagner"I'm sure I knew I wanted to date before she did. Mary was tall and good looking – what else can I say?" he laughed.

Eventually the pair had their first date which was a walk to downtown Philadelphia for a movie.

While Mary admits that the movie wasn't very good, she and John had a great time and thus began their relationship.

Though they both said that, "in those days you behaved yourself," Mary and John managed to spend the next two years spending a lot of time together and by Mary's senior year they were going steady.

"We went to dances together, took walks all over the city and would go across the bridge to the Art Museum," said Mary. "We mostly just did a lot of walking and talking. What we talked about didn't matter – when you're young and you like each other, you can talk about anything."

John recalled one particular winter night that they spent ice skating on the frozen alley between Mary's dorm, Van Rensselaer Hall, and his Theta Chi fraternity house.

While there was never really talk of an engagement, both say it was something that they just knew would happen.

John proposed the summer of 1946 and by that November they were married in a small ceremony of about 13 people.

The couple spent the first years of their marriage in the Midwest, traveling from the east coast to Utah, then Nevada, then back to Utah.

By 1955 they had four children; John, Richard, Liz and Shawna. Over the years they've added four grandchildren and one great step-granddaughter to their brood.

Retired and living in Arizona for the last 20 years, John and Mary enjoy a much more settled and relaxed lifestyle.

"We like to watch TV together," said John. "We live a quiet life. These days going to the grocery store is a big deal for us."

When asked the secret to a successful marriage, one spanning six decades, the Wagners said that it's actually quite simple – at least, for them.

"Mary and I always looked out for one another. At times we felt like it was us against the world," said John.

Mary added, "And from the very beginning we never looked at the grass on the other side of the street. We liked ours just fine. The key is simply that we really like each other. I married a good guy."


alumni@drexel.edu