As Valentine’s Day approaches, three married couples, who are Western Michigan University alumni, reminisce on their days as young college kids in love.
Dorothy, 68, and Greg Flaska, 69, met at the start of their freshman year in 1967. While attending a mixer, Greg noticed Dorothy walk in the door of the St. Thomas More Catholic Parish where the event was held. Her smile was so gorgeous it stopped him in his tracks, Greg said.
“I instantly saw my wife,” Greg said. “I turned to the guy next to me and said I’m going to marry that girl someday, and it turned out, that’s what happened.”
Greg asked Dorothy to dance, and although she was in a relationship with someone else at the time, Greg had made up his mind about her.
“I immediately fell in love with that woman,” Greg said.
Dorothy and Greg remained good friends until their junior year when they began dating seriously. The couple connected over study dates and walks around WMU’s Valley Pond. They married two years after graduation and had one daughter.
Now, the retired couple keeps their romance strong by traveling, boating and spending time with their family. The pair still returns to the place they fell in love to attend WMU tailgates and football games. Greg is also a strong supporter of the W Club and the My Gary Fund.
Joshua Dunaj, 25, and his wife Courtney Dunaj, 24, met at WMU in December 2012. After a mutual friend introduced Joshua and Courtney, they instantly clicked.
“I think that night we talked for three or four hours down in Davis (Bistro) Dining Hall,” Joshua said. “That pretty much started our relationship.”
The couple officially started dating in January 2013 after Joshua visited Courtney for New Year’s Eve.
“I thought she was very easy to talk to, very easy-going, very energetic and she was just very kind,” Joshua said. “She didn’t have any bad things to say, and the fact that we were able to talk for four hour,s never having met each other was nice.”
Their ability to easily communicate and their love for spending time with each other has made their relationship easy, Courtney said. Just like their night in The Bistro Dining Hall, they still never run out of things to say to each other.
Joshua and Courtney, both avid hockey fans, spent much of their time attending WMU hockey games. In 2013, the pair was lucky enough to watch WMU’s hockey team play in the Great Lakes Invitational, Joshua said.
The two were also members of the Western Swing Society and practiced together on a weekly basis, which was a lot of fun for them, Courtney said. Another favorite date spot of theirs when they were students was The Union Cabaret & Grill in downtown Kalamazoo.
“Whenever we come back to visit, we make sure we stop and get a Den Pop for the road home and go get some Sweetwater’s (donuts),” Joshua said.
Ryan Ehardt, 30, and Luna Ehardt, 27, also began their relationship at WMU in 2008. The duo, introduced by a mutual friend, started dating after Ryan invited Luna to his twentieth birthday party. Since then, they’ve been inseparable, Ryan said.
“I was the partying, crazy guy and when I met her, she kind of calmed me down a little bit,” Ryan said.
During their last two years of college, the couple spent most of their time studying together. It was during these long hours that Luna realized how much she loved Ryan for his intelligence and strong work ethic.
While attending WMU, both Ryan and Luna decided they loved Pita Pit. After graduating and working for five years, the Ehardt’s took their passion for Pita Pit and turned it into a new career. They opened a Pita Pit franchise in Birch Run, Michigan They recently opened a second restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan and have seen great successes, Ryan said.
“We created the Birch Run restaurant from scratch,” Ryan said. “It wasn’t even like a restaurant until we renovated the whole thing.”
The duo loves their new career path and they’ve had fun building and opening the restaurants, Ryan said. Although they occasionally disagree on plans and ideas, they are always able to move past it and focus on their main goal.
“What she’s strong in, I’m a little weaker in, and what I’m strong in, she’s a little weaker in,” Ryan said. “So we really compliment each other.”