In early February, we asked Abilene Christian University alumni who met their spouses on campus to share their stories. We received dozens of tales – funny, touching, incredible. You can peruse them here.
With ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium scheduled for demolition later this month, we close with a love story featuring Dr. Paul Faulkner (’52), professor emeritus of Bible. He taught on campus full time for 35 years, including 11 as chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, and was honored in 1982 as the university’s Teacher of the Year. As a student he was a star javelin thrower and pole vaulter, earning enshrinement in 1994 into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments, many of them performed in Gray Stadium. In 2001, Paul and his wife, Gladys (Shoemaker ’52) were honored with the 2001 Christian Service Award.
Gladys wrote this account of their romance:
Lilʼ Abner, with his one-shoulder-strap denim overalls, walked into biology class.
Sitting at the back our freshman year in high school, it was my first visual of Paul. He was good looking, but his attire turned me off. I said to myself, “I would never date him.” Then I thought, “I better not say that. I might marry him some day.”
Through our high school years, I knew who he was as a pole vaulter on the track team and as president of our senior class, but we did not meet until the end of that senior year, when we were on a committee together to buy gifts for the senior class sponsors. He said he was curious about my ability to speak the “tut” language, and that was why he asked me for one date to a concert. We went our separate ways into a busy summer.
Each of us was going through the decision process of what college we would go to. I was headed to the University of North Texas. I even had a roommate, but at the last minute was pressured by a preacher and a friend to go to Abilene Christian College. Paul had several track scholarship offers and decided on Rice University. His sister stayed after him into the middle of the night to accept the track scholarship at ACC until he said, “Just let me go to sleep, and I will go to ACC.” We were unknowingly going through this process about the same time.
If we had not enrolled at the same college, I donʼt think we would have married. I believe God led us to ACC for a lot of reasons, No. 1 being a closer walk with the Lord, and No. 2 being to put Paul and me together.
We dated “steady” our freshman year. Our sophomore year, I thought we should date others and “play the field.” He dated almost all of my friends, including my roommate. No one would date me because they thought I belonged to Paul. What a stupid risk of losing him I was taking! I wasn’t interested in anyone else, anyway. Paul was everything I wanted. Before that year was over, I called him (girls did not call guys in those days). He canceled a date with my roommate that night, and we met at Elmer Gray Stadium. No one was there – just the two of us – a kiss Iʼll never forget.
We were engaged our junior and senior years, and graduated together before we married July 12, 1952. We will have been wed 63 years this summer, happy to send our children and grandchildren to ACU to continue the legacy.