First came love under the oaks.
Marriage soon followed.
A decade later came a daughter they named Amberose, making St. Ambrose University's place in the hearts of Bill '86 and Teri (Ewers) Carman '85 clear as a chapel bell.
"St. Ambrose will always be special because it was a magic time for us," Teri Carman said. "We try to get back to campus once a year, and if it is during the hours the bookstore is open, then Amberose gets a new sweatshirt."
The Carmans of Peoria, Ill., are among the more than 1,000 couples who met at St. Ambrose and ultimately married. Many took their vows in Christ the King Chapel.
Dan '10 and Lisa (Wiggers) Haverkamp '10, '12 DPT were married in the chapel on Jan. 5, making them "eligible" to join a mailing list of campus-grown husbands and wives who are expected to celebrate Valentines Day with a special card from the Advancement and Alumni Relations Office.
"Lisa and I made some lifelong friends during our time at St. Ambrose," said Dan Haverkamp, who lives and works in Indianapolis. "We will always think of the campus as our second home, and most importantly the place where we met and our relationship flourished."
Only graduates or current students can exchange vows in the chapel. Campus Chaplain Rev. Charles Adam '82 officiates more than 30 weddings there each year. Many of those, he said, are for couples who "met here and worshipped here."
In February, the Advancement and Alumni Relations Office expects to send nearly 1,000 Valentine cards to Ambrose couples. More than 30 of those couples have celebrated at least 50 years of marriage. Fr. Adam said a St. Ambrose union doesn't come with a lifetime guarantee, but he said relationships forged under the oaks do have strong roots.
"I would say that very often there is a sense of spirituality that I think does make a difference," he said. "And I suppose there is a common bond and common identity that certainly does help."
The Hon. Celeste Bremer '74 and her husband Bill Hennan '75 both attended high school in Davenport but never met until her sophomore year at St. Ambrose, when Hennan walked past her once and then reversed his steps and walked by again. "Very smooth," she said.
Smooth enough. The couple celebrated their 35th anniversary last year in Des Moines, Iowa. Daughter Dianne Hennan '09 is proud to have followed her folks to their alma mater.
"It's always nice to know that my parents and I have one more thing in common," the daughter said. "What they both inspired in me was the desire to learn and see the world. While at Ambrose, I studied in England, Wales, Ireland and Italy."
Family ties are a common theme for Ambrosian couples. The Haverkamps were introduced by his brother and her sister, both of whom are graduates of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. The Carmans, meanwhile, each have two sisters who graduated from St. Ambrose and two of Bill's nieces recently did as well.
Two Carman sons chose to attend college elsewhere, but Amberose, currently a high school freshman, has her namesake school on her list of possibilities.
"She is undecided, " Teri Carman said. "It would sure be nice if she went to St. Ambrose, though."
She already has the wardrobe.