Sometimes It’s An Obstacle Course

Navigating the Obstacle Course Together

Ian and Donna

They met in 1963 on the campus on University of California, Berkeley. They were there during the free speech movement. Ian was getting his doctorate in engineering and Donna was getting a masters degree.

Donna was coming out of Tolman Hall (which has unfortunately been torn down) and they were fixing the sidewalks and things were a little wonky–you had to travel through a maze to get out. A young man was sitting with his friends and saw this attractive, bodacious (Ian’s words) woman walking and he overcame his shyness as something compelled him to start a conversation with her. He came up beside Donna and said, “This is quite an obstacle course isn’t it.?” Donna thought that was his most profound line because they have now been together for over 55 years. At times it’s been an obstacle course but it’s always been steered with love. Donna believes there was a master plan that put the two of them together and gave Ian the courage to come speak with her.

Both of them say they weren’t together long before they just knew–maybe six months. Donna had an undergrad in English and History and she had made up her mind that engineers weren’t really for her. However, the engineer who walked her through the obstacle course was able to recite poetry by heart and this made her think he was a little different than the average engineer. Ian carries that poem with him–Walt Whitman’s, There Was A Child Went Forth. Ian feels that the poem inspired him to go forth and speak to a total stranger. When they reached their destination, Ian stopped to get coffee but not without first securing Donna’s phone number. Ian called the very next night and they went to a movie and just hit it off.

Ian had a job interview for the University of Pittsburgh and he was mulling the decision over. They were in the car together and he said, “I don’t want to go to Pittsburgh without you.” Donna replied, “Are you asking me what I think you are?” and in a squeaky voice, he responded, “Yes.” There was no ring as they were too poor. They had nothing but their love and each other. They bought wedding bands for the marriage and in 2005 in Sausilito, Donna got an engagement ring. They moved to Pittsburgh which was also a smart move for Donna. A chance meeting in an elevator with Mr. Rogers, and an offer of his help to do something together, launched Donna’s career in children’s entertainment.

They get asked for advice a fair bit and their first recommendation is “Don’t Give Up!” Times get tough, you take a step back and maybe walk away from each other for awhile. Donna never went home to her mother and Ian never packed up–they stuck it out. Ian recommended, “Before you consider quitting, try therapy for yourself or couples therapy.

There’s nothing more complicated than the human mind so if you get help learning statistics why wouldn’t you get help trying to understand yourself–you can’t always figure it out on your own.


Ian says they have a lot of common interests. Donna’s involved in children’s entertainment–and Ian learned about child development and lately they’ve had great conversations about how bad the news is in terms of negativity. They turn it off, sit in their kitchen and talk because right now the world is going through a tough time. Through these conversations they have each learned a significant amount about each other and what’s important to one another.

Ian’s and Donna’s newest love is their grandson and for them it’s a whole new level of love.

Broadcast Love wishes them all the best as they continue on this obstacle course called love.

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