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Opinion

Schrader: The spark that was ignited in our living room

Seldom does one get an email reminding them about something that happened 46 years ago in their own living room.

I received such an email recently from a woman in Redding, California, who had looked me up on Google, saying she and her husband wondered where I was now. Her comment, “You never know what might happen when you open your home to possibilities …” was certainly appropriate after she explained herself.

It seems that in the spring of 1971, while editor of the Daily Chronicle, I hosted a “town and gown” meeting trying bring together different factions from all parts of the community after a fractious relationship between the “townies” and Northern Illinois University. It was probably the umpteenth time over the years that “town and gown” relations had soured and another interminable committee was formed to seek solutions to the ever-present problem.

Getting back to that fateful day in 1971, Laurie Leiser told me she was a student senator and came to represent that group at this meeting, as did a police officer named Ralph Leiser, who had come because then-Police Chief Vic Sarich didn’t want another meeting on his schedule. So Sarich sent Ralph. Laurie recalled that they met briefly and chatted in our living room.

Then, a few months later, she was chosen for the interview committee when Sarich retired and they were selecting a new chief. One of the candidates was Ralph, but the committee, including her, decided on another man, Joe Maciejewski. Ralph eventually became that chief’s administrative assistant and then rose to the rank of lieutenant before retiring from the DeKalb force in 1991 after a 25-year career here.

But more about her email. She wanted to share with me how they met again at a social occasion, began dating, and finally got married in 1976 at the First Lutheran Church of DeKalb.

The rest is history: They’ve been married 41 years now and are living out west, where they both went to work for a multimedia publishing company for a time. They last returned for a visit seven years ago and found a few familiar faces still around – including the chief’s secretary, Penny Meier.

So that explains the surprise email and how I was remotely connected to their eventual matrimony. But I never received a wedding invitation.

I could write another column about my wife, Kay, and I meeting while at the Conference Point church camp on Lake Geneva when I was an eighth-grader from Genoa, and she was in fifth grade at Southeast School in Sycamore. I think the late Rita Benson might have introduced us at the time. We didn’t see each other again for years until a mutual friend named Marilyn Frank (now Stromborg) brought us together in 1962, and the rest is history – 54 years and counting. But that story can be told later.

• Barry Schrader can be reached via email at barry815@sbcglobal.net or through P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115. An archive of past columns can be found on his website, www.dekalbcountylife.com.

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