It’s the atypical office romance — late deadlines, cutting and pasting headlines and resisting the Oxford comma to abide by AP-style guidelines. It’s the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s — dozens of young college students are bonding in The Cavalier Daily office over sleepless nights. While covering Watergate, President Hereford’s election and even facing the University administration’s shutdown of the paper, some staff members also found their lifelong partners among their companions in the office.
John and Patty Epps
Patty and John on a tour of Morocco with Cavalier Travels.
John and Patty Epps met and started dating while Patty was features editor and John was news editor, and their first date was during IFC Weekend. Patty graduated in 1974, was a member of the first class in which women were admitted as undergraduates and was features editor as a third-year. She went on to run for Student Council on a ticket with Larry Sabato. Patty holds a master’s degree and a law degree from the University. John graduated in 1975 and was editor-in-chief his fourth year. He interviewed former White House Counsel John Dean, who played a role in the cover-up of the Watergate scandal. He later became a reporter for The Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg after graduation before going to law school at the University of Richmond. Both practiced law with the international firm Hunton Andrews Kurth and are now retired.
John: I certainly remember when I noticed Patty. She was features editor. Alas, I was a lowly lackey so it took me over a year to get up the gumption to ask her out. I think it is fair to say she noticed me well after I noticed her!
Dan Grogan and Barbara Brownell Grogan
Dan and Barbara Brownell Grogan bobbing about near St Michaels, Md., in early October.
Dan Grogan and Barbara Brownell Grogan first met in 1973 in the top floor offices of The Cavalier Daily. They reunited during the 20th reunion, began long-distance dating in 1999 and married in 2002. Dan graduated in 1976 and was photo editor in his fourth year. He took the first color photo to appear in The Cavalier Daily of the Rotunda. Since graduation, he has worked in various photographic capacities in Charlottesville including work for the Daily Progress, the University, U.Va. Children’s Hospital and freelancing. Barbara also graduated in 1976, and she was the features editor as a third-year. She was a Lawnie — she and her younger sister were the first sisters to have adjacent years on the Lawn. Currently she is the CEO of Rivanna Publishing after nearly a three-decade-long career as a writer and editor in different divisions of National Geographic.
Barbara: We were on The Cavalier Daily, but we didn’t even really notice each other which was kind of funny. We just worked together, and I would give him assignments because I was features editor, but he was the photo editor later. It was fun, and he was really good at what he did. I was really good at what I did. I thought he was cute.
Barbara: We worked on The Cavalier Daily, and we went our separate ways. We met at [the 20th reunion] years later. Then it sort of clicked.
Dan: [At the 20th reunion] Barbara said something to me like, “The years have been kind to you.”
Barbara: I don’t think so, I said you look the same.
Dan: Oh, you said “Well you look just the same as graduation” or something and I turned on the spur of the moment and said, “Well you look like you just stepped off the French Riviera.” So that was what became known as my smooth pickup line I guess.
Barbara: I thought he was pretty cute after that.
Dan: Even though we weren’t so much part of the dating scene at the CD, there was a lot of that going on. There were deadlines, late nights, and usually we’d close the paper at 10:30 p.m. The paper had to be driven up to Culpeper where we printed, and then you’d come back and throw the papers around. And so you got to know people in a different way then in most other student organizations. We were all, in retrospect, trying out adult roles with this totally student-run hierarchy of a managing board and page and topic editors.
Barbara: In our relationship, I think that curiosity and excitement of the deadline has drawn us throughout our lives and I think our relationship is a little like that. You know, let’s do a million things and check out everything.
Dan: We often talk about well, why didn’t we date at the time? And I guess it brings to mind how much relationships are a function of time and place and how what’s important to you changes as you develop.
Mitch Frank and Catherine Shnaider Frank
Mitch and Catherine with their children.
Mitch and Catherine pictured on Mitch’s graduation in May of 1996. The person photobombing here is Chad Hall!
Mitch Frank and Catherine Shnaider Frank went on their first date when Mitch took Catherine to dinner after a football game. When she was a first-year, Catherine would get rides with Mitch to The Cavalier Daily satellite office in the second semester of 1995 to 1996. They are still friends with Chad and Sarah Hall, another couple also on the staff at the time. Mitch graduated in 1996 and was the executive editor in 1995. Catherine graduated in 1999. She was a copy editor in fall 1995 and assistant managing editor spring of 1997 to fall of 1998.
Catherine: It was my second week of school, and there was an opening for a copy editor. I was interested in editing, not writing. So to get that position — because it was a higher position — I had to be interviewed by the Managing Board. So Mitch was in that meeting on the Managing Board — that’s the first time that we met ... I was a first-year two weeks into school, and everyone was being really nice to me because here was this young first-year. Everyone was smiling, and he caught my eye ... I think we both smiled at each other, and he asked me out — I think — two months later. So it was pretty quick, and that was the end of it. We’ve been married for almost 20 years. So we met in September, he asked me out in November after the Virginia Tech game, and that was it. Since Nov. 19, 1995, we’ve been a couple.
Mitch: I would say just every day [was my favorite memory]. I can’t point to as many special occasions. Having the person who became my best friend at school every day is kind of special in itself.
Catherine: It was a guaranteed way to see each other. And it turned out to be interesting because every once in a while I had to edit one of his lead editorials ... The Cav Daily was just part of our relationship, that’s you know, where we met. We went and got dinner once we were working on the same nights, and that’s who we hung out with.
Catherine: Everyone knew. I mean, between a fourth-year and a first-year, I don’t think anyone thought it was gonna go anywhere. What were the odds?
Mitch: Being at The Cav Daily was such a special part of my university experience that it was just natural to find people who share the same passion. Many of my friends today are still people that I met down there in the basement ... I just happened to be lucky enough to find the person I love down there as well.
Chad and Sarah Hall
Sarah and Chad pictured at their graduation in 1996.
Chad and Sarah Hall were on the Managing Board together their third and fourth year. They maintained a long distance relationship from 1996 to 1999 and married in 2001. Sarah graduated in 1996 and was the news editor and then managing editor in 1995. Chad also graduated in 1996. He was a news writer under Sarah and became business manager in 1995.
Sarah: We sort of started dating when I was news editor and he was a writer. We kept it under wraps because we thought it would be weird for people. We ran for Managing Board, still kind of keeping it under wraps and then we were on the Board — still keeping it under wraps — but I think at this point we had really fooled no one. We didn’t come clean until we were officially off the board, and everyone was like, “We knew all along.” I was managing editor, and I always needed to send reporters somewhere and always wanted to spend money to cover stories and send people places. He was the business manager, and he always wanted to save money. So we would have some pretty intense battles at the Managing Board meetings about whether we could spend money or not. I always joked that we were able to get those money arguments out of the way back then. Theoretically now we don’t argue about that stuff anymore, or at least we understand where each of us is coming from.
Rich Verner and Jean Hellering
Rich and Jean in Kazimierz, Poland, standing on the ramparts of a ruined castle.
Rich Verner and Jean Hellering started dating the first week of April 1980 after they stopped working on the paper and the new board was elected. They first met on Move-In Day their first year as they were in the same dorm. After graduating in May 1980, they were married in September. Jean was production editor in fall of 1979. Rich was the executive editor, elected in spring of 1979, and he is currently part of a fantasy football league with other Cavalier Daily alumni.
Jean: We were the year when The Cavalier Daily got kicked out.
Rich: It was right after we had been elected. The school administration was trying to control the content of what was being written and we refused to let them do that. They withdrew our funds and there was at least one, maybe two big rallies on the Lawn. At that time if you just stopped anyone on the street, they would’ve said, “I don’t care about The Cavalier Daily.” Maybe they looked at it and read it but they weren’t really passionate about it until the administration started trying to screw around with it, and then people really supported it strongly. We got kicked out of our offices for a couple of weeks and it was produced in the Daily Progress offices. The alternative paper that supported the administration didn’t last and people realized it wasn’t what they wanted.
Jean: It was very traumatic and exciting.
Rich: You know, just the daily grind, getting the newspaper out, pasting headlines, editorial meetings, you become very close to the people.
Jean: I think that because we knew each other so well on a platonic basis that it was kind of instant once we dated. I invited him to dinner and after that I had to go work on a paper, and I was up all night. I went to my 8 a.m. class, finance, which I routinely slept through and told one of my friends in the class, “This is the guy I’m gonna marry,” and here we are. I had my eye on him for quite a while we were on the Managing Board.
If you met your significant other through The Cavalier Daily and would like to share your story, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.