Ada Klopfenstein and Jerry Christensen grew up eight miles apart in the farming communities of Gridley and Chenoa, respectively, but did not know each other until they met at the start of their freshman year.
Their chance encounter occurred as both fulfilled a requirement in the 1960s that all new students have a chest X-ray for tuberculosis. Jerry was living off campus and needed directions to the health center. A high school classmate living in Hamilton-Whitten invited him to come along with her group, which included Ada. The two ladies had adjacent rooms in the residence hall.
Ada had a boyfriend back home at the time, so it was not until spring that she and Jerry started dating. They stayed together throughout their college years, enjoying dances held in McCormick Hall and spending hours in The Cage. Both appreciated the tight-knit campus community of approximately 5,000 students, which led to encounters with President Robert Bone.
The two completed education classes, with Ada graduating in 1965 ready to teach business. Jerry ’65, M.S. ’69, Specialist ’84, focused on math education.
They paid $50 a semester in tuition, which was a discount from the $97.50 standard fee because both planned to teach. Jerry recalls paying just $5 a week to live off campus at 614 School Street.
These are just some of the memories from the ISU experiences that united the couple. Their engagement was in the spring of 1965, with the wedding weeks later in June. Both taught throughout Central Illinois in the years that followed.
Jerry pursued administrative roles, serving as a principal and superintendent before retiring in 1996. A second career emerged as he taught math at University High School. He served as assistant principal at U-High and later principal until retiring again in 2005.
During their 50 years together, the two raised a daughter and two sons. Now living in Gridley, Ada and Jerry enjoy spending time with their nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild. The two stay active and connected to campus, which will forever hold a very special place in their lives.