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A lifelong love affair blooms on the Hill

May 12, 2008

The older couples who return for Reunion Weekend have always made Maria Lathroum ’08 smile. Seeing them still so in love with one another after meeting on campus decades ago warms her heart. Last year, as a Reunion Weekend volunteer, she was touched by the Western Maryland love story told by one couple as she escorted them around campus on a golf cart. This year, she has her own story to tell. Here it is, in her words:

“From the very beginning, Pat O’Toole ’07 and I have had a McDaniel romance. I suppose you could say that we met each other due to our mutual dorkiness. As members of the Honors Program, we both happened to be living in Daniel Maclea Suite 101 during the 2004-2005 academic year. I was a freshman, and Pat was a sophomore. After returning from a quick trip to Walmart with my family on move-in day, I started to unlock the door to Suite 101 when it was opened from the other side by Pat. In true chivalric form, he offered to help carry things in; we didn’t need him to, but that marked the first time we laid eyes on one another. I remember thinking at that moment that I just might end up liking Honors boys, and as it turned out, I liked that one in particular.

“On May 3, 2008 during Reunion Weekend (exactly three years, eight months, and seven days after that first chance meeting) Pat proposed to me in the skybox of Hoover Library. The proposal was a very elaborate scheme; Pat has always been a planner. He arranged for my bosses at the library to ask me to fill in for a fellow employee on Saturday morning.

“After working for about an hour, one of my bosses approached me with a small stack of books, asking if I would please go shelve them, a very typical task. I walked down the hall to the skybox, made a left, and was putting the first book on the shelf when I realized that there was something sitting in the spot where the books belonged.

“Amid a few scattered rose petals was a picture frame containing a photo of an older couple riding on a golf cart during Reunion Weekend. Tucked underneath was a card that read, ‘Maria, will you be the little old lady on my golf cart?’

“I was stunned, and only gradually began to realize what was about to happen. After an attempt to gather myself, I turned around to look for Pat. I caught sight of him, flanked by a pack of his Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity brothers, alumni and undergraduates, all dressed in shirts and ties. As I stood in absolute astonishment, they all knelt down and began to sing to me, the Alpha Sig ‘Sweetheart Song.’ When they finished, the other boys rose, and Pat remained on down one knee to ask, ‘Maria, will you marry me?’”

“My tearful response was ‘Of course I will.’

O’Toole says he was nervous when it came time to pop the question. Here are his words:

“I am a notoriously stoic person,” O’Toole says. “But my voice was quivering and my eyes were welling up as I asked her to marry me. I had spent so much time focusing on the details that I had not stopped to grasp the magnitude of the step we were taking -- and it all hit me at once.

“I knew she would say yes, but it meant a lot to actually hear it and now to see her wearing my ring on her hand. I have only heard her referred to as my fiancée a few times now, but it will probably take a long time to get used to.

“I think we will both look back on the proposal and be happy that McDaniel was such a big part of every phase of our relationship. We are hoping to have our wedding here as well.”

THE SWEETHEART SONG

Who says sweetheart to you,
who calls you all his own?
Who stands lonesome and blue,
talking of love to the moon up above?
Tell me whose eyes gazing in yours,
make all your dreams come true?
Who has the right to kiss you goodnight?
Tell me, whose Alpha Sig Girl are you?

 
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