Tom Smith ’80 and Marlys Hinz ’80 met the spring of their freshman year in 1977. Tom’s roommate dated Marlys’ roommate, so the two were occasionally in the same social scene. The first real sparks began to fly during Rites of Spring in 1977.

The day was filled with music, walking around, and getting to know one another.

“She practically watched the entire concert from my shoulders, and by the end of the day we knew there was something strong between us,” Tom said.

That summer was spent apart. The two wrote back and forth, visiting each other a few times.

“We were able to talk about anything, and loved the same activities, such as biking, swimming, and just being outside,” Tom recalled. “It wasn’t long before we knew we were in love.”

The two appreciated their time together at ISU. They explored each other’s interests through various campus activities. Tom showed Marlys his love of music and sports by taking her to concerts and games. Marlys’ passion for dance was evident to Tom when he attended classes and performing arts events with her.

The couple wasted little time tying the knot after graduation, marrying in August of 1980 in Normal. They moved to the suburbs, where Marlys accepted a position at McDonald’s corporation with her degree in accounting. She held the job for 32 years. Tom used his mass communications degree to pursue a career at CDW in Vernon Hills. They raised their two children, Jennifer and me, Brian Smith ’12, in Glen Ellyn.

Their vow of “in sickness and in health” was put to the test in the spring of 2009, when my mom was initially diagnosed with breast cancer, and again when it returned in the fall of 2011.

My parents spent every day together while she was sick. I was able to witness firsthand the true meaning of love. Unfortunately, my mom passed away in July of this year, but her teachings and caring nature live on through me, my sister, and my dad.

One of my most precious memories was my graduation weekend in May, as my mom was able to attend. She and my dad made their way to the couple’s bench while at ISU for a photo on the campus where their romance that ended all too soon had its start.