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Class Notes: Love Stories

Matches Made at Westminster

by Kayla Bernard ('07)

Westminster has a special place in the hearts of those who fell in love or married on campus. The college has been the setting for many love stories since Converse Hall held its first class in 1911. Meet some of the lucky couples who met—and even married—on campus. 

Rich and Kristl Nelson

Rich (’01) and Kristl (Hansen) Nelson (’00) met in their honors humanities class held in Walker Hall, classroom #2, in fall of 1995. Kristl was the first person in her family to go to college, and Rich was a hippie in a tie-dyed shirt and shoulder-length hair. As anyone who has gone through the honors program at Westminster can attest, the intensity of the program creates a unique bond among classmates. Rich and Kristl were not strangers to this bond. They formed a strong friendship with one another and their fellow honors classmates, but their romantic relationship did not develop until Rich returned from his LDS mission in the spring of 1999.

Rich, Kristl and their children

It was the season of student elections, and Kristl was running for ASWC vice president. Having completed his mission, Rich was back on campus at Westminster. His older brother encouraged him to run for ASWC president, but he was hesitant because he had been gone for two years and did not know many of the current students. Rich agreed to run when he and Kristl teamed up as running mates. Through the process of planning, strategizing, and campaigning, they got to know each other very well. Kristl won her election, but Rich did not. Not one to be deterred, Rich continued to work with Kristl by serving as ASWC treasurer. Their time together resulted in a relationship that led to a December 2001 proposal. Rich sent Kristl on a treasure hunt that ended with meeting him in the same Walker Hall classroom where they had first met; it was there that he asked for her hand in marriage. The couple married the following April and held their reception in Nunemaker Place.

Since their wedding, Rich has completed a PhD in economics at the University of Virginia. The couple moved back to Utah in 2007 and now has four children: Abby, Matt, Ellie, and Sofie.

Joe and Judy Clarke

Joe and Judy Clarke vintage picture

Joe (’68) and Judy (Spencer) Clarke’s (’75) love story began over 50 years ago in the fall of 1962, when former members of the men’s football team decided to create two women’s football teams.  The ladies’ teams were coached by the guys, with the ultimate goal of facing off against one another. Judy was one of those tough women who joined the recreational women’s football squad. One day, during practice, she caught a long pass that broke her left ring finger. Her coach asked Joe to take Judy to the hospital, and three years later, he put a wedding ring on that exact same finger.

During their trip to the ER, Joe and Judy hit it off, and from then on, they spent all of their free time together for the rest of the fall semester. Their first official date was to the Columbus Day Dance and they were married on April 2, 1965.

Joe and Judy Clarke current photograph

Although Joe and Judy left Westminster in 1963, their love affair with Westminster didn’t end there. Joe returned to campus in the summer of 1966, when he served as student body president, the announcer at the basketball games, and even  director of plays for Jay Lees. Not to be left out, Judy sewed cheerleading uniforms and costumes for the theater program.

One winter, their daughter fell very ill and spent several days in the hospital. Their Westminster family showed up in force, with Joe’s professors and classmates taking up most of the waiting areas of the hospital for days.

Joe finally graduated with his degree in 1968, but Judy’s turn to finish her degree wouldn’t come until 1971. After moving back to Utah from California, Judy started work in the nuclear medicine department at Cottonwood Hospital. Judy didn’t think it would be possible for her to return to school while employed full time, but the college worked with her so that she could complete her degree. Judy tape-recorded the lectures and only came to campus for exams and labs. With the support of her professors and the college, Judy graduated with her BS in physics in 1975. This April, Joe and Judy will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Jerry and April Puda

Legend has it that rain on your wedding day is a sign of good luck. If this is true, then Jerry (’78) and April (Stanfield) Puda (’79) were given some serious good fortune on the day they exchanged their vows.

The couple met while living in Park City in 1973, and two years later, they moved to Salt Lake to attend Westminster. A year after beginning their studies, the couple was planning their wedding ceremony.

Jerry and April Puda wedding photo

Jerry and April had fallen in love with the beautiful landscape Westminster offered, and so with the permission of their dean of students, Dean Good, they planned to hold their wedding ceremony in the amphitheater by Emigration Creek, which runs through campus.

Potted plants were removed from nearly every building on campus to create a backdrop for the event. Weeds were pulled and the benches cleaned. The stage was set for a beautiful ceremony. The big day, July 31, 1976, arrived—and brought with it a violent monsoon thunderstorm. The unexpected inclement weather forced the ceremony to be relocated to the multipurpose room of the girls’ dorm, Hogle Hall. The storm knocked out the power, and the room was hot and humid. Guests were uncomfortably seated on folding metal chairs. Despite the terrible weather conditions, Jerry and April were happily married and remain so today. They look back on their wedding with amusement and fondness.

Sage and Sara Dunham

Sage and-Sara Dunham wedding photo

Sage (’12) and Sara (Rees) Dunham (’10) met while they were studying at the “nerd table” in the former science building, Dick Hall, in 2010. Sara graduated later that year with a degree in neuroscience, while Sage graduated with his chemistry degree in 2012.

The two continued to date after graduation and worked together at the University of Utah doing research before beginning graduate work. In the fall of 2013, Sara began medical school at the University of Utah, and Sage entered the analytical chemistry doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sage and Sara were married at the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake last May, with several Westminster alumni and professors there to celebrate with them. Sara continues to live in Utah while Sage resides in Illinois as they finish their degrees.

Do you have a love story to share? We’d love to hear it. Send your love story to, and be sure to include a 1MB photo.



About the Westminster Review

The Westminster Review is Westminster University’s bi-annual alumni magazine that is distributed to alumni and community members. Each issue aims to keep alumni updated on campus current events and highlights the accomplishments of current students, professors, and Westminster alum.