It was the fall of 1968. Former vice president and Republican Richard Nixon was running against the sitting vice president at the time, Democrat Hubert Humphrey, for president of the United States. The Young Democrats Club was meeting at the old student union on the Quad.
For Lonny King ’72 and Mary Ellen Moehle ’71, it was an evening marked by more than political discussions. The two met for the first time at that event, which led to a dating relationship that lasted through their college years.
Mary Ellen studied special education, while Lonny majored in industrial arts. The fact Lonny finished a year after Mary Ellen did not end their romance. The two were married just weeks after Lonny graduated. The ceremony was held in June of 1972 in Belleville.
After teaching in Peoria for a couple years, the two decided to head west to Eugene, Oregon. The plan was to stay for a couple of years. More than four decades later, they still call that community home.
Mary Ellen continued her education at the University of Oregon, receiving her master’s in 1978. She worked as a reading specialist for 32 years in Springfield, Oregon. Lonny earned a master’s in industrial technology from Oregon State in 1983. He eventually left teaching and went into the commercial construction business as a general contractor. Both are now enjoying retirement.
Parents to three adult children, the couple celebrated 45 years together this summer. They keep in contact with several old friends from Illinois State. Both treasure their time spent as Redbirds on campus, and are especially grateful for that election event.
As Lonny puts it, “I like to say that even though Hubert Humphrey lost his Democratic presidential race in that election, I gained a wife and partner for life.”