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Man and woman smiling on bench

Mary and Phil Loveall at ISU's love bench

How we met: Mary and Phil Loveall

An ordinary day on campus turned out to be anything but for Phil Loveall ’63, M.S. ’65.

As the education major was walking toward the south side of campus on Main Street, Loveall noticed a woman near Walker Hall, a residence building that once stood where the Student Fitness Center is today. “My initial question was ‘Who is that girl?’” Loveall said.

Determined to answer his own question, Loveall summoned a friend of his who also was a friend of hers. She was Mary Ann Derfler ’63, a fellow education major who also happened to live in Walker Hall. Shortly after, the then-sophomores went to grab a bite to eat off campus on a Sunday night.

They started discovering mutual interests such as being active in church, as well as taking advantage of events going on around campus such as Big Four dances and movies in Capen Auditorium. It didn’t take long for either to realize their relationship seemed to be headed for the long haul.

A couple of years later, Mary Ann was living off campus. Phil came over to study one night. She showed him her mother’s wedding ring. Phil took the opportunity to put it on her finger and ask for her hand in marriage.

After Mary Ann said yes, the two rushed over to a payphone behind Fell Hall to call Mary Ann’s parents about the news. On June 16, 1963, the two wed at the United Methodist Church on School Street in Normal.

They spent their working lives as educators in the Chicagoland area while raising a family. Their son, Mark, graduated from the University’s College of Business in 1988 and serves as a vice president at AIG in San Francisco. In 2013, Mark founded an insurance scholarship for students who display hard work and skills in the industry.

Last April, with Mark unable to make it from California, Phil and Mary Ann attended the award ceremony and met the two recipients and their families. Now retired, they reside in Elk Grove Village. The campus visit brought them back to a place that had shaped them both personally and professionally years earlier.

“Those years at ISU were some of the best years of our lives,” Mary Ann said. “When we go to visit, it still just brings back wonderful memories.”

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