Section: Features

Kenyon Marriages

Kenyon Marriages

by Celia Cullom and Cora Markowitz

Linda ’83 and John Mackessy ’82

In 1979, when Linda Mackessy ’83 was a first year, she started going to Kenyon Christian Fellowship meetings in the Church of the Holy Spirit. That’s where she met John Mackessy ’82, who would later become her husband.

“One night at Peirce, my [future] husband started asking me lots of questions,” Linda Mackessy said. “He’s well known for his very thorough questioning of people when he first meets them; he likes to know everything about everyone. Three hours later we were still at Peirce and the dining hall workers were kind of wishing we would leave, so that’s kind of where things started.”
The two hit it off that night, but it was just before summer break. Since they wouldn’t see each other for a few months, they corresponded by mail.
One day, when they were both back on campus in the fall, Linda was sitting on a rock outside Peirce Hall. “I worked up the courage to ask her out,” John said.
“I was not intending to play hard to get, but I said, ‘I’d love to go to the movie, but I already planned to go with my friends, but you can come along,’” Linda said.
Later that evening, none of her friends were there; they had decided to let Linda go to the movie alone with John.
“We started dating that night,” she said.
After John graduated in 1982, he took a teaching job in Columbus. And the following summer, when Linda graduated in 1983, they got engaged.
“He proposed to me on the rock in front of Peirce after he had asked for my mother’s permission,” Linda said.
“I took her back to the spot where I asked her for the first date, hoping I’d have a better response than I did for the first date,” John said.
In August of 1984, Linda and John Mackessy got married in the Church of the Holy Spirit, the place where they had first met.

Jeanne and Frank Top ’84

Jeanne and Frank Top ’84 have scarcely parted from one another since their days as Kenyon students. Having two friends who joined the Sigma Delta Phi fraternity, Jeanne Top ended up spending much of her time with the D-Phis, where she met Frank Top.

Her sophomore year, Jeanne began dating one of Frank’s fraternity brothers, where she began to get to know him better.
“I was always asking, oh, why don’t you bring [Frank] along or why don’t you have him ask so-and-so out,” Jeanne said.
They met again at the start of their junior year.
“The first person I met on Middle Path after I’d driven in was Frank,” Jeanne said. “And literally a week later he invited me to a party and we’ve been together since.”
“Our first official date was Wednesday night — there was always a movie in Rosse Hall at 10:30,” Jeanne said. “So we went to a movie. It was sort of funny because neither of us had ever seen it, so we didn’t know what the movie was … he invited me to A Clockwork Orange. So we’re in there and we’re both like, oh, okay. It’s still a joke to this day.”
They’ve been together since that first date, even after moving apart and living in different states after graduation.
Four years after graduating, the couple decided to tie the knot.
“We got married in 1988, so we’ll be married 26 years this May,” Jeanne said. “We probably had 40 Kenyon friends at our wedding. Several of them were bridesmaids in my wedding; one of them was Stephanie Seidel, whose son [Will Seidel ’14] is a senior, who’s my son Justin [Top ’14’s] best friend.”
Kenyon is, in fact, in the couples’ genes. Both of their children, Justin and Emily Top ’17, ended up at Kenyon.
Jeanne said, “When our daughter was born, I always thought it would be really cool to give one of our two kids the middle name “Kenyon” … Then, when we were thinking of a middle name for Emily, we had tossed out a couple, and then Frank said, ‘Why don’t we name her Kenyon?’ So our daughter is Emily Kenyon Top. So yeah, Kenyon means a lot to us.”

Thomas Tobin and Tracey Davis ’86

Thomas Tobin ’86 and Tracey Davis ’86 were never “Kenyon married” as students, and remain unmarried to this day. But they’ve been as good as married for the past 13 years. They met as first years, and, while it wasn’t love at first sight, they quickly became friends.
“We were both in McBride dorm, and [together with] Tracey’s roommate and a friend of mine … we became like the four musketeers and went to dinner together and parties together and basically were inseparable. So it just became a really really great friendship,” Tobin said.
Though Tobin said there are many beautiful places on campus to go watch the sunset with that special someone, the most fun he had with Davis was at fraternity parties. “Tracey and I had a great time as friends just going and dancing up a storm,” he said.
Their friendship stayed strong throughout their time at Kenyon, even as they dated other people.
Tobin said, “Tracy was dating somebody else, and I was doing my thing, but we still were good friends, we ran into each other at parties and danced.”
Though they did date during college, it didn’t go anywhere, only lasting one or two weeks. “It was a very short period of time because we were so paranoid that we would ruin our great friendship,” Tobin said.
Their friendship continued long after they went their separate ways after graduation.
Independently, they both got married and then divorced, remaining friends through it all. In 2001, Davis, who was living in Cincinnati at the time, went to stay in Cleveland, where Tobin lived, for her grandma’s birthday.
“She called me and said, ‘I’m coming to Cleveland, if you want to get together for a drink or something,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, that’d be great.’ So she came over to my house … so to the hopeless romantic that I am, it was the beginning of what turned out to be 13 years of being together.”
Though they never got married, Tobin said, “We are in every way except the piece of paper married and very much in love … Tracey was my first and true love.”

Pam and Andrew Welsh-Huggins ’83

When Pam Welsh-Huggins ’83 was a junior at Kenyon in September 1981, she went with her friend, Chris Northrup, to the Medieval Banquet in Peirce Hall. There, she sat across from a “skinny, curly-haired, delightfully nerdy guy, who was walking around juggling.”

“And that was Andrew,” Pam Welsh-Huggins said. “He was just incredibly nice and really funny and literate and I just really enjoyed him.”
Pam didn’t think they would see each other again. But just a few days after, Andrew left a note on the whiteboard on her door.
“Our first real date would have been Oct. 8,” Andrew said. “We borrowed a friend’s car and went to Friendly’s in Mount Vernon … we got strawberry shortcake ice cream and went out to Apple Valley.”
They continued dating, but after they graduated, Pam went to Brown University to get her Masters in Fine Arts in teaching and Andrew, who had won a Watson Fellowship, went to Ireland.
“We exchanged airmail letters,” Pam said. “His mom and dad took me over to Austria for Christmas one year because they knew how much we missed each other.”
In 1984, Andrew flew Pam over to visit him, and the couple went to London to meet up with Northrup, who was studying at St. Andrew’s College.
“We were running through Hyde Park to meet up with the guy who had introduced us,” Pam said. “Andrew turned to me and said, ‘Honey, I think we should get engaged.’ … And I said, ‘I will say yes to anything that you say to me right now, but I just can’t run anymore.’ So that’s kind of how he proposed to me, through oxygen deprivation.”
Pam and Andrew Welsh-Huggins have three kids, including Emma Welsh-Huggins ’17 at Kenyon.
“Our experience is a good reason why if you ever get an invitation to go to a Medieval Banquet, you should probably go,” Andrew said.

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