Getting a Kick Out of Each Other
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Just ask Joyce Levine ’79 who met her best friend and future husband, Bob Diamond ’79, when both were freshmen. Joyce hailed from Upper Montclair, N. J., Bob from Great Neck, N.Y. Bob’s high school friend, Robin Feldberg Wildman, lived across from Joyce in Weldin Hall and introduced them.
The couple’s first date? Attending a Richie Havens concert in Edwards Auditorium. While it wasn’t love at first sight, one of Cupid’s arrows eventually hit its intended target. The couple dated throughout college.Bob was a starter on the soccer team for all four years, and Joyce was a loyal fan.
The couple married in 1980. Today, Bob is group president and C.O.O. of the MID-SHIP Group, an international shipping and logistics company headquartered in Port Washington, N.Y., with 17 offices around the world. While Joyce doesn’t sell diamonds, she founded Dazzle Straps, LLC, which sells beaded lingerie straps and jewelry she designs.
The Diamonds live on Long Island with their two sons, Scott, 20, and Adam, 18.
“We maintain contact with many of our dear friends from URI. Some of our favorite memories come from those years when we were students. We both still remember Saturday night soccer parties down the line and dancing to Bruce Springsteen tunes at the Beachcomber in Scarborough,” Joyce says.
After Blanca Perdomo ’86 took Spanish class in Independence Hall, she walked across the Quad and down the hill. Invariably, Frank Xavier ’84 would be walking up the hill. Their paths crossed in front of the former Hope Dining Hall around 1 p.m. Although they were only nodding Talent Development acquaintances, they decided to lunch together. Both were children of immigrants. Blanca’s family came from the Dominican Republic, Frank’s family from Cape Verde. Blanca, a vegetarian, would eat Frank’s ice cream and he would eat her hamburgers and fries. They would part after lunch. After all, she had her friends and he had his.
Nearly two semesters after eating together nearly every day, Blanca, who was in the R.O.T.C. program, asked Frank to the military ball. Frank happily accepted, driving Blanca in his old AMC Hornet. “She wore a knockout dress,” he recalls.
After the ball, he kissed her good night. She slapped him. “He was my friend,” Blanca explains. “It was a platonic relationship.”
“It was a sobering awakening,” Frank says, rubbing his cheek. “But I respected her for that.”
After Frank graduated, the couple started to date and married in 1986.
Today, Frank is the financial controller for the Town of South Kingstown and Blanca is a mental health case manager for the Kent Center. They have two boys, Joshua, 19, and Jeremiah, 17.
Obviously sharing meals at Hope Dining proved to be the right ingredient for wedded bliss.
A Highlighted Romance
Donna Arnold ’76, M.B.A. ’78, met Tom Cerio ’76 the day the residence halls opened. They studied on their first “date.”
“Tommy was studying for an exam, and I noticed that he was highlighting almost everything on every page,” recalls Donna, who helped him focus on key points. Three or four “study dates” followed before they kissed.
They kept their relationship casual and dated others. Since both worked their way through school, they went Dutch whenever they went out. They danced at the Ocean View until their feet hurt and loved the beach and ocean.
Donna drove a red Karmann Ghia that would have died a thousand times if Tom hadn’t been a superb auto mechanic. When he finally got a car in his senior year , he kept saying how great it was to be in his own car for a change. “On our return, the car ran out of gas, and we had to walk two miles to get home,” says Donna.
Although Tom says it was love at first sight, Donna is skeptical. It was a matter of timing. It was seven years before they married and another seven before they had their first child, Dominic Cerio, now 20 and a URI junior. They also have a younger son, Victor, 16.
Tom’s career took the family from one coast to another. Today he is executive vice president of program distribution at HBO in New York City.
The couple’s commitment is carved in stone. Their bricks on the Quad read: MET HERE IN ’72, IN LOVE 4EVER.
Match Made In Heaven
During the first week of his junior year, Rich Santello ’85, a chemical engineering major, served as a Eucharistic minister at nearby Christ the King Church.
Laurie Graves ’85 noticed him. “He had a suit on and I thought, “Wow—cute guy!’”
Rich was giving out communion when he spotted Laurie. “Either the match was made in heaven or I am going straight to hell for checking her out in church,” he jokes.
Two days later the couple met at the Willows, an off-campus hangout.
Laurie, who never dated someone she had met for the first time, agreed to Rich’s invitation to dinner without hesitation. They hung out at local beaches and danced at Caesar’s and The Club in Newport.
“It was like I knew her forever,” Rich says of their dinner at Spain restaurant in Narragansett.
He “pinned” Laurie at the end of their junior year. After graduation, Laurie took a job in New York City. Rich faithfully visited each weekend. On her birthday in October, he surprised Laurie with a horse and buggy ride in Central Park and handed her a gift: a teddy bear with a red ribbon around its neck. A diamond ring was attached to the ribbon.
“Then he got down on one knee and proposed,” says Laurie. ”People walking by witnessed the whole thing and clapped.”
They married in 1986. Rich’s career as an executive in the environmental industry required several moves but the couple now lives in Barrington with their children: Amanda, 17, Matthew, 16, and Kathryn, 12.
The couple attributes their marital bliss to love, faith, and communication and surviving two home renovations.
Diane Chace ’74 and Kent Fannon ’74 met as sophomores when both were disc jockeys at WRIU. Kent was also general director for the campus radio station and the voice of the URI Rams.
“I was smitten at first sight,” Diane recalls. For Kent, it was crush at first sight. “I lost more than 10 pounds during the first few weeks. I couldn’t eat,” he admits.
The couple drove to New York on their first date and stayed at Kent’s parents’ house so he could interview for a summer intern job at American Airlines.
The couple were pretty much inseparable during their last two years at URI. They traveled to basketball and football games Kent was broadcasting. “During a game at Holy Cross, I didn’t have time to line up a halftime guest. As a joke, my WRIU faculty advisor (who shall remain nameless to protect his pension) pretended to be a scout for the ABA Kentucky Colonels,” Kent recalls. “Diane played his wife. It was very funny and some listeners actually believed it was legit.”
The couple married in 1976 after Kent graduated from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He went to work for American Airlines, which relocated to Texas in 1979. The Fannons followed suit. Today, Kent is a partner in D’Antoni Partners, Inc., an executive search firm, and Diane is a principal of the Richards Group, a national advertising agency.
“Our love story hasn’t ended,” Kent says.
“How can you not love a guy like that?” Diane asks.
– By Jan Wenzel ’87