Campus LovePosted by Paula Paine on February 2, 2014 in Faculty/Staff, "Kansas City", "The College", Uncategorized, "Your OU"
By Kristen Howell, Campus Editor in Chief; Photo by Lindsay Dahl
Theirs is a story that serves as a reminder that a lifelong love can be born at even the most ordinary and unexpected moments.
Gaynia’s grandmother had a building in Kansas City, Kan. that used to be the home to her grocery store that had gone out of business. She asked all of her grandkids whether they thought that it was a good idea to allow Emmanuel Baptist Church’s youth group to open a coffee shop in the building. All of the grandkids liked the idea, except for Gaynia who opposed, saying that it would not be safe for her grandmother, given the close proximity between her home and the store.
Despite Gaynia’s concern, her grandmother allowed the church to open their shop. Little did Gaynia (’06 KC) know that that coffee shop would change her life.
When Gaynia was visiting her grandmother one day, her grandmother took her to the shop and introduced her to the workers. Amongst those workers was a college senior from KU named Richard Menninger.
Gaynia recalls having a positive impression of Richard. “My first thought was, ‘You’re a senior at KU, I’m going to date you.’” Gaynia said.
Richard recalled that Gaynia was “confident and extremely good looking.”
Richard asked her out and they went to a drive-in on July 20, 1969—the day that man first walked on the moon.
It did not take long for their relationship to blossom. Just a few months later, on October 19, 1969, Richard proposed while they were sitting in Gaynia’s driveway after a date.
Gaynia explained that they did not date that long because “they were just that sure.”
They were married on January 25, 1970. Forty-four years later, they have stood the test of time and are still happily married.
Together, the Menningers have braved the trials and joys of life. They have worked side-by-side all but 18 months of their married life. Gaynia worked at the seminary where Richard was studying and then has worked at many of the places that he has taught. They were blessed to work together for all but a short span of time after they had moved back to Kansas from California.
“There was only one time for 18 months that we didn’t share the same thing. I was working at the Girl Scouts and he was teaching,” Gaynia said. “It’s a God thing.”
Currently both of the Menningers work at OU— Gaynia works as the Executive Assistant to the President and Richard is the Chair of the Department of Theological and Religious Studies and teaches a variety of religion classes.
Working together has allowed the Menningers to spend time together, which is a bit of marriage advice that Gaynia shares. They also both find that it’s important to share the same faith as their spouse.
“Find someone who will enhance your walk with Christ; stay pure because marriage can only be fully experienced when you are totally committed to another physically, emotionally and spiritually; place Christ at the center of your marriage and grow deeper into Him and into each other,” Richard said.
The Menningers spend time together traveling and doing yard work. They go on walks, watch TV together and spend time with family—they have two kids and two grandkids.
After 44 years of marriage, Gaynia says that the best part of being married is sharing everything.
“If you have secrets, it’s because you’re going to surprise them with something,” she said. “Also, every Valentine’s Day, I get a dozen roses from Richard. He’s kind of a romantic.”
To Richard, the best part of being married is having someone say ‘I love you’ at the end of the day.
Eichner’s Love story
By: Taylor LaMay, Campus Staff Reporter
After being married for 19 years, President of Ottawa University, Kevin Eichner, and his wife Marylin (’00 KC) are still keeping their spark alive by working and playing together.
The Eichners dated for approximately four years before they became engaged. The Eichners, who met at work with Gala for Young President’s Organization in St. Louis, Mo., had their first date at the Botanical Gardens. Marylin said she was intrigued with Kevin’s interviewing techniques.
A highlight that makes the Eichner’s relationship successful was their ability to merge their families into one. Both Marilyn and Kevin have children from previous marriages, and the ability for Marilyn’s sons Andrew and Kyle, and Kevin’s son Adam to join together as a unit, has made their family very strong.
How did he pop the question? On Christmas Eve in 1994 Kevin had his son Adam give Marylin a gift, little did she know it was her engagement ring. Adam asked Marylin if she would marry his dad and, of course, she said yes. Adam was the best man at their wedding and her two sons walked her down the aisle.
Kevin jokingly, said he knew she was the one when she threatened to stop dating him if he didn’t marry her.
The Eichner’s highlights throughout their marriage include building a business together, watching their three sons grow into accomplished young men as they successfully developed their families and careers, working at Ottawa University together and all the fun they have while travelling the world and engaging in interesting communities and work.
The Eichers say that to maintain a healthy marriage, they continue to have a growing appreciation for each other, their time together and mutual respect. They think It’s great to be lovers and best friends at the same time.
According to the Eichners, having your best friend to share ideas and listen when you are struggling, never being alone or afraid because he/she has your back, and having someone to snuggle with and laugh with you, but not at you, are the best parts of being married.
Everybody has challenges when it comes to marriage. A challenge for the Eichners is to be patient and remember that we do not all think alike and sometimes you need your own space.
When asked to give advice for college students and marriage, the Eichners recommended taking your time and do not being in a hurry. Also, don’t confuse physical attraction with true love.
By Erin Shriver, Campus Managing Editor
Wendell (’95) and Rachel Smith (’97) began their journey of love on the Ottawa Campus twenty years ago and continue their relationship today at the same place their love began.
Rachel was a member of the Ottawa Cheer Squad and Wendell was a football player. They both knew of each other distantly, but didn’t really talk much until Rachel needed help one day.
“We first met by the mailboxes,” Wendell said. “Rachel needed help opening her mailbox; this was one of the first times I came to the rescue.”
After Wendell saved the day at the mailbox in September of 1993, the rest was pretty much history. They soon began dating on February 23, 1994 and then tied the knot three years later on July 12, 1997.
Wendell and Rachel have been in love for almost 20 years now. And that word “love” is something that is very treasured by the two of them.
“I feel like the word ‘love’ is used a lot more casually now a days,” Wendell said. “I don’t think a lot of society understands meaning, monogamous relationships anymore.”
Rachel began dating Wendell under the pretense that they were going to be spending the rest of their lives together.
“We actually got to know each other in a Bible study,” Rachel said. “We started learning about each other’s heart and spirit within us before we really moved forward in our relationship, which was then long-lasting.”
They were very clear with one another that if they did not feel their relationship was going to take them any further, that they would not continue it. They would be married under the circumstance of God’s plan for their lives together.
“Our love has certainly grown and changed over the years,” Rachel said. “It has become more of a deep, committed kind of love.”
To continue their deep love, Wendell and Rachel spoke about what they believe to be the key to a long, lasting marriage.
“I think communication is huge,” Wendell said. “I know the times when we might struggle, I tend to be introverted and not express some of the things I am thinking or feeling as good as I probably should. I know that it is important for us to be on the same page.”
Wendell tries to be more intentional about how he tries to communicate and when he tries to communicate. A shared faith is something they also found important and a huge factor to a healthy marriage.
“If we’re not in a Bible study or doing a devotional together, there are times when we can definitely feel or even see a gap or struggle more if we don’t put God at the center of our relationship,” Wendell said.
Wendell is the assistant football coach, and his job takes him out of town numerous times a month.
When he is out of town, he makes an effort to call Rachel to pray, or even do a short devotional over the phone to help keep them close.
The Smiths try as much as possible to “unplug” when they are at home; turn the TV off, turn off their cell phone, and just spend time together and with their children finding there are times when you need to unplug from the world and just connect on each other.
“We have to keep reminding ourselves to put God first,” Rachel said. “And then we put each other next, especially with our kids. We have to understand selflessness.”
Something that really drew them to one another when they first met was how easy it was to put God first and to help serve others and be devoted to one another as a couple.
The Smiths do not see divorce as an option. That is a strong part of their relationship.
“It doesn’t mean we do not have our struggles, we’re not perfect,” Wendell said. “Marriage takes work and it takes commitment. We have to make sure that we make it work.”
Rachel believes that having fun and to continuing to dating each other is also an important key to a healthy marriage.
“Even if it’s just a moment in your home, be that person that we fell in love with,” Rachel said.
Both Wendell and Rachel’s parents were great models to them growing up. They both grew up in Christian homes and appreciated the Christian values that helped teach them what they should look for in a relationship.
They saw their parents fight for each other, which then taught them to fight for one another.
Being a part of a coaching family takes a lot of fight. A fight for time with the significant other, but also a time to support the significant other and the team they for which they are coaching.
Rachel and Wendell have kept the spark alive for the last 20 years, and will continue to do so. But, there are a few tricks they use to keep that spark burning so bright.
“We have to make days that are special,” Wendell said. “It is just important to make time for each other. Sometimes we don’t have a date night for a really long time, so that’s when we really have to work together and set aside some time where we can have uninterrupted time to talk to each other.”
For the Smiths, it is as simple as having lunch together every day. Although some days it does not work out, they have been blessed to work on the same campus and are able to drive home together, make a sandwich and head back to school. For them, even ten minutes together is precious.
Rachel believes love language and knowing what makes Wendell feel loved is also a key to keeping the spark alive. “It is so easy to get in the day to day humdrum,” Rachel said. “When he would get a sitter for the kids and then wisp me away it was like heaven.”
Wendell and Rachel had to figure out over the last 20 years what works best for each other and figure out what the other one needs to feel reenergized to help keep their relationship strong. They seem to be doing a great job, as their relationship is as strong as ever and will continue to grow over the years to come.