In July of 1943, Illinois State welcomed the U.S. Navy V-12 program to campus. University High School graduate Harlan Bliss decided to enlist and as a result, met the love of his life.

Mozell Williams was a business major who needed a job despite a scholarship for books and tuition. She worked at Old Main to help the University prepare for the enlistees, then moved to Fell Hall’s food service.

“One day I came around the corner in the food hall and I said, ‘Gosh, I don’t know who that girl is, but she is going to be my wife,’ Harlan remembers. “I finagled a mutual friend to introduce the two of us, and we began dating shortly after.” That friend was Burt Mercier ’50.

Because enlistees had a 10 p.m. curfew, Mozell commented that she would usually walk Harlan home after their dates around campus.

Harlan shipped out for officer training but returned one year later with a proposal for Mozell. Married on January 26, 1945, the two have shared nearly 70 years together. That milestone as well as a 90th birthday for Harlan and Mozell’s 89th were celebrated at Ewing Manor in June.

The Bloomington couple chose the location because of their lifelong connection to the University, which remains strong. Their three adult children, seven grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren joined in the celebration of a special Redbird connection that has stood the test of time.