For the final alumni couple in our weeklong "Love In..." series, we've featured Kevin and Pat Fox, who met while studying with IES Abroad in Paris in 1965-66. Often referred to as the "City of Love," we thought it only fitting to save this one for Valentine's Day.
Kevin was a History major at Manhattan College and Pat studied English and French at the University of Pittsburgh. They chose Paris mainly because, well, it's Paris! Their story is special in that it's told from both perspectives.
How did you do two meet?
Pat: On August 25, 1965 the IES Paris group sailed from New York to Cherbourg on the Queen Elizabeth I. The ship left port around 3:30, and since we were in student steerage, we were called to dinner early. As the ship was sailing out of New York Harbor, under the Verrazano Bridge, we sat across from each other at that first dinner. No sparks during that first meeting. I think we were all just nervous 19-year-olds preoccupied by thoughts about the year ahead. Our “staterooms”—eight to a cabin—were also next to each other, and I do remember noticing Kevin playing his guitar and looking very cute and cozy in a plaid flannel shirt.
Kevin: We met at dinner shortly after leaving the dockside in NYC. I remembered meeting Pat because we were both from New York. We all spoke English, but at our orientation that night, led by M. Fontenille, we all had to sign a pledge to speak only French, a promise that was not only nearly impossible but also hilarious for a number of us, including me, who only had a couple of years of basic French in high school or college.
Cosmic Coincidence Note from Kevin: In 1968, when Pat was eight months pregnant with our first son, we drove to the 52nd Street pier in New York where the QE1 was docked for the last time before sailing to Hong Kong to become a floating university. In 1971 my Navy ship was in Hong Kong where QEI was anchored, and I went aboard for one last visit. Four months later it caught fire and sank in the harbor.
Tell us about your first date.
Pat: We never really had a first date. We actually hung around with a group. Over Halloween break John Landis invited Kevin, who was his roommate, and me to go to Germany to visit his relatives. It was harvest season and beautiful and we drank our first Riesling. Then for my 20th birthday in late November, Kevin brought the cake to Chez Francine, a tiny out-of-the-way family restaurant.
Kevin: No real first “date," just spending time together and, as time went on, spending more and more time together. One really great “date” well into the relationship was the two-day student pilgrimage in honor of Charles Peguy from Paris to Chartres with thousands of students from all over the world. We walked in the rain, slept on haystacks in a barn in Rambouillet and as a group, converged from five different routes into the center of Chartres singing the Hail Mary in French: "Je vous salue, Marie, pleine de grace. . ."
When did you realize s/he was the one?
Pat: On the train from Paris to St. Johann, Austria for Christmas break.
Kevin: I remember we had just pulled out of the station in Mulhouse, France on the train, Pat and I were standing by the window outside the passenger cabinet, and that was the moment.
When and where did you get married?
July 1, 1967 in Kings Point, New York, ten months after returning home from Paris.
How did meeting one another while studying abroad change your overall experience?
Pat: It made it all even more magical at the time and wonderful since to have had all those shared memories. During the year we traveled to Austria, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, then on to Ireland, Scotland, and England where we hitchhiked and stayed in hostels in the summer of 1966. It probably also made it less academic, but I do still remember wonderful classes with Pasteur Dumas, M. Adam, M. Birault, and M. Ricouer. I still have all my notebooks, somewhere.
Kevin: I think we really got to know each other very well; we had a lot more fun sharing the travel experiences and meeting people. Despite the distractions, we were both genuinely interested in many of our academic classes. In 1965, it was harder to meet French students our age so we spoke more English. On our recent trips, we notice that the French are much more open and friendlier.
How did your relationship change after you returned from studying abroad?
It just grew. We sailed home in August of 1966 and knew by then that we would finish our senior year and get married the following summer. Fortunately, we lived a 90-minute drive from each other’s parents so seeing each other was easy during the ten months between arriving home and getting married.
What are your professions today?
Kevin has been in real estate development for over 30 years, now CEO of Scout Capital. Pat has been in education as a middle school and university teacher, and since 2002 as Associate Director of Site Development for the National Writing Project.
Do you have children?
Three grown sons: Michael 45, Alex 42, Christopher 39
Six grandchildren: Ellie 8, Lily 8, Nate 5, Huck 5, Carter 1, Spencer 2 weeks
Have you been back to Paris?
Many times. We return to France whenever we can. Paris is always magic. We spent Christmas 2012 in the 7th arrondissement with our oldest son and his family. We also love the Burgundy Valley and find we speak our best French there. We think it’s the wine.
How are you spending Valentine's Day this year?
We’re actually snowed in in the North Carolina Mountains for the next few days but have plans to go to a wine tasting if we can shovel out.