By Constance Gibbs and Matt Hampton | Feb. 14, 2024

“Matchmaking” isn’t one of WashU’s official programs, but there’s just something about this place that can bring two soulmates together. Look no further than our alumni for proof! After the overwhelming response to last year’s true-love tales, we’re sharing even more “how we met” stories from couples who found their special someone at WashU. 

WILDly in love 

Abbey (Bush) Foote, AB ’15, and Jake Foote, AB ’15, MD 

Abbey and Jake during their WashU days
Abbey and Jake on their wedding day in 2021 with their Saint Bernard, Sandy 

Jake and Abbey Foote instantly clicked when they met at WashU’s renowned concert, WILD, the fall of their sophomore year.  

“I don’t think anyone shows up to WILD looking to meet their spouse per se, but it turned out that way for us,” Jake said. “We ended up talking the whole night and had a lot of shared interests.” 

During the chat, they discussed their mutual enthusiasm for the indie band Dispatch, and Abbey mentioned the Donnie Darko-themed alternative-rock show she hosted on campus radio station KWUR. 

“I played a Dispatch song on my KWUR show the following week,” Abbey said. “Turns out Jake was listening in, and he texted me about the Dispatch song right after the show. We went on our first date a few days later. We, of course, had to play the same song at our wedding.” 

They also discovered early on that they shared a love of the outdoors. Jake served on an AmeriCorps trail crew in Oregon, and Abbey participated in a backpacking pre-orientation program through WashU. 

“Jake was waitlisted for that pre-o, which is funny because we always wondered if we would have met a year earlier if he had ended up in that pre-o,” Abbey said. 

After graduation, the couple moved across the country through their respective graduate school journeys at Georgetown Law in D.C. for Abbey and at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans for Jake.

Now married for four years, the Footes live in Detroit, where Jake is in his fourth year of orthopedic surgery residency and Abbey practices antitrust law.  

“We both had a great experience at WashU, and the university’s reputation has given me a lot of professional opportunity, and you feel really lucky when that also ends up coming with a spouse,” Jake said. 

“It’s crazy that we met when I was 19, but it all worked out the way it was supposed to, and we’ve been able to see each other grow ever since we were ‘big kids’ at WashU to where we are now,” Abbey added. 

A ‘family tradition’ 

Susan (Walther) Frankel, AB ’74, and Harry Frankel, AB ’74, MD 

Harry and Susan in the ‘70s 
Harry and Susan now

When Susan Walther Frankel, AB ’74, arrived at freshmen orientation, she had no idea her orientation leader would become her future husband. Although she got to know Harry Frankel, AB ’74, during orientation sessions, the pair did not start dating until later in the semester, thanks to the persistence of a mutual friend. “Our friend said, ‘You two ought to be together,’ so he kept inviting us out for social occasions, and it progressed from there,” Harry said. 

While dating, the couple often studied together in the library with trips to Holmes Lounge for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. They enjoyed attending events hosted on the South 40, including watching movies in the Wohl Center. One of the first films they enjoyed together was A Clockwork Orange. They also frequented local establishments like the Parkmoor Restaurant and Talayna’s on Skinker Boulevard. “And Harry had a car, so we would go to Steak ’n Shake,” Susan said.  

The Frankels married in 1976 during Harry’s second year in medical school. Between them, the couple has 11 family members who have graduated from WashU. Their son, Max Frankel, AB ’08, also met his wife, Jessica Frankel, AB ’07, MSW ’08, at the university. “It seems to be a family tradition,” Harry said. 

Today, the couple lives outside of Philadelphia. Harry is a family medicine practitioner, and Susan recently retired as director of development for a children’s nonprofit. They love spending time with their three sons and six grandchildren. As the couple nears their 50th wedding anniversary, they shared their advice for a successful marriage: “Laughter,” Susan said. “That was No. 1 on my list also,” Harry agreed. 

‘Love’ and order 

Ana Nettles, JD ’16, and Remington Shepard, JD ’16 

Ana and Remington during their WashULaw days
Ana and Remington now

Remington Shepard, JD ’16, remembers the first time he laid eyes on his wife, Ana Nettles, JD ’16. He saw her from across the room in Bryan Cave Moot Courtroom on their first day of law school classes. “I said to myself, ‘Oh, she’s cute,’ then proceeded not to talk to her again that semester because I thought it was a good idea to do a lot of studying instead of socializing,” he said. Nettles knew him as “the guy with the backpack” because Shepard would take his books and notes with him everywhere. 

The two didn’t connect until a mutual friend encouraged Shepard to ask Nettles out during a bar review, a weekly law school tradition that brought classmates together to socialize at a bar off campus. That week, it was at Nick’s Pub in Dogtown. For their first date, they had dinner at the Rustic Goat, a now-closed restaurant on Washington Avenue. The couple remembers laughing about how a fellow patron, sitting behind Shepard, was coincidentally wearing the exact same outfit. “We just hit it off personality-wise,” Nettles said.  

During law school, the couple enjoyed exploring the Clayton restaurant scene and watching movies at the Moolah and Hi-Pointe theatres. They were often in the same classes and study groups. The true test of their compatibility was drafting a paper for Professor Barbara Flagg’s Critical Jurisprudence class. “It was the first time we had a knock-down, drag-out fight,” Nettles said. “But it was the best paper we ever wrote, and we received the highest mark. It taught us about respect and while we may have different ways of doing things, they both work.” 

After graduation, the couple visited England for their post-bar exam trip, including a stop at The Half Moon, a pub in Hitchin, north of London. Three years later, Shepard orchestrated a surprise proposal at the pub and secretly arranged for their families to be there. The couple planned a wedding for the summer of 2020, but when the pandemic hit, they opted for a small ceremony at Nettles’ parents’ home in Nashville. They postponed their larger celebration to August 2021 and were overjoyed to celebrate alongside many WashULaw classmates and friends. Shepard is a corporate associate with Dechert LLP in Philadelphia, specializing in mergers and acquisitions, and Nettles is in-house with HCA Healthcare in Nashville, focusing on healthcare litigation. 

A match made in med school

Amy (Weed) Puchalski, MD ’97, and Bob Puchalski, MD ’97 

Bob and Amy in 1996
Bob and Amy now

Bob and Amy Puchalski met right after coming to the WashU School of Medicine — over a keg of beer at an orientation event behind Olin Residence Hall. 

“He seemed fun and engaging,” Amy said. “Over the next few weeks, everyone was trying to make friends, so we would frequently go out in groups, and I was always happy when he would talk to me.” 

“And I was too,” Bob added. 

They soon began dating. Although time and money were in short supply as grad students, the pair found many things to do in their free time, including frequenting local bars with fellow medical students; going on dates at Cunetto House of Pasta on the Hill and Balaban’s on Euclid Avenue; rollerblading in the park; and studying together.  

A year after graduating, they married. 

“I think she wanted to make sure I was actually going to graduate before she got married to me,” Bob joked. 

The Puchalskis moved to South Carolina, where Bob founded an ear, nose, and throat practice, and Amy has worked for 10 years in pediatric emergency medicine at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. They now have four children. 

Bob and Amy are not alone in having a marriage come out of their time at the School of Medicine: They recall as many as six other couples in their class alone.  

“It is really meaningful when the person you’re with is going through the same thing you are at the same time, and they can relate to what you’re going through, what your responsibilities are, and what stress and anxiety you might have in life,” Amy said. “It makes you better able to support one another.” 

“It was great to be able to have our relationship forged through med school, not just because of the challenges med school presents, but also because of the rewards that it provides,” Bob added. “It was a wonderful experience to have our relationship grow as we became doctors.” 

Swimming sweethearts

Andrew “Drew” (AB ’93, BS ’93) and Carolyn “Beanie” Spangler (AB ’94)

Beanie and Drew at WILD in 1991
Beanie and Drew at Mudd Field in 2021

When Drew and Carolyn “Beanie” Spangler embarked on a swim team scavenger hunt in the fall of 1990, they found something that was not on the list: a love that has persisted through the decades. 

Drew was a junior, and Beanie had just arrived at WashU as a first-year student, and the team-bonding activity led them to start off on a sour note. They got into a heated disagreement on the way back from the Delmar Loop. Afterwards, Beanie said to her roommate, “Can you believe him? Who does he think he is?” 

But the two forgot their disagreement soon afterwards and started dating the following spring. Their first date featured a trip to the cinema to watch a Hamlet adaptation starring Mel Gibson, followed by drinks at the Rathskeller, a lively bar underneath Umrath Hall, and a Pink Floyd laser light show at the Gargoyle, an event venue in the lower level of Mallinckrodt Center.  

They enjoyed many further dates — ranging from Talayna’s to lunch in Mallinckrodt Center — in a relationship that turned into a marriage of more than 25 years and counting. 

After graduating, they moved to the Boston area and raised three daughters, the oldest of whom is in the class of 2025. Drew has developed a successful investment management career, and Beanie teaches at the local high school after earning a master’s degree from Harvard University. 

“We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for WashU,” Beanie said. “I think anyone who met in college can say that, but we feel like it’s always been part of our story. Both my parents went to WashU, and they met there, too. It’s been in the background my whole life.” 

Drew and Beanie are far from the only WashU swim team alumni couple; they recall at least four from their time on the team.  

“It’s not surprising because we spent so much time together,” Beanie said. “Now, the men’s and women’s teams train separately. We trained and traveled and competed all together, so it created great camaraderie.” 

From Mr. WashU to Mr. and Mrs. 

Eliotte (Henderson) Woodford, AB ’10, and Ryan Woodford, AB ’10 

Eliotte and Ryan with their son James

In her junior year, Eliotte Woodford was serving as a board member for Mr. WashU — a talent competition in which four men from each year competed to become Mr. WashU all while raising funds and awareness for City Faces, an arts nonprofit benefiting underprivileged children in the St. Louis community — when she ended up finding Mr. Right. 

Ryan Woodford, a member of the Track & Field team and the Sigma Chi fraternity, was a candidate, and the two interacted frequently during intensive rehearsals in the weeks before the event in late February 2009.

Eliotte was also a member of the a cappella group Mosaic Whispers, which had a major performance the same weekend as Mr. WashU.

The performance conflicted with the Mr. WashU afterparty, and Ryan didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to get to know Eliotte better outside of group rehearsals with 15 other guys, so he asked for her number under the guise of coordinating attendance at the after party once her performance concluded. They hit it off that evening, and Ryan asked Eliotte on their first date on March 1, 2009. 

Both Eliotte and Ryan were double majors with a host of extracurricular activities, but throughout the rest of the school year, they never missed an opportunity to spend time together, whether it was sneaking in a date night or simply studying with each other at the library. At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, Ryan went abroad to work in Chile through the Gephardt Institute program, and Ryan and Eliotte credit much of the blossoming of their relationship to being forced to get to know each other via Skype calls every day. 

After graduating in 2010, Eliotte moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a dancer and singer, and Ryan moved to Grand Canyon National Park to work for the National Park Service. Once Ryan’s stint at GCNP ended, he moved to Los Angeles to be with Eliotte. 

Ryan attended University of California, Los Angeles School of Law prior to practicing law at White & Case in Los Angeles and then as in-house counsel at Meta (formerly, Facebook), where he continues to work today. Eliotte began working with Taylor Swift as a background vocalist in 2012 and has performed on her Red, 1989, Reputation, and The Eras tours.   

Ryan proposed on Dec. 30, 2014, in New York, where Eliotte was performing with Swift for New Year’s Eve. They lived in Los Angeles for over a decade until recently relocating to Austin, Texas, after the birth of their first child, a son named James.  

Ryan and Eliotte remember WashU as more than the place where they met each other, and they credit their time at the university with teaching them key life skills and introducing them to lifelong friends. 

Do you have your own WashU love story to share? We’d love to hear it! 

More WashU love stories

Boris Shurslep, BSBA ’97, and Jacqueline (Vernick) Shurslep, BSBA ’97

Matthew Mayfield, BSBA 17, and Annalise Wagner, AB ’18

Paul Benedict, BS 94, MS 95 and Heather (Field) Benedict, BS ’96

Jason Hollander, AB 96, and Debra (Mayers) Hollander, AB ’96

Richard Harmon, AB 05, and Helen Rhee, AB 07

Sushil Keswani, BS ’89, and Photine Liakos, AB ’88, MD ’92

Greg Perlstein, AB 08, and Lauren Statman, AB 09

Joel Groves, BS 06, and Megan (Swider) Groves, AB 07

Eric Wolfish, AB 06, and Jessica (Prince) Wolfish, AB 05

John Lee, MBA ’99, and Laura (Spreck) Lee, MBA ’99

Michal Cook, AB 17, MSW 18, and Shrey Aggarwal, BSBA 17

Phillip Ruff, AB ’87, and Sandra (Bohan) Ruff, BSOT ’88, MHS ’92

Fredric Gross, AB 82, MD 86, and Laura (Geringer) Gross, AB 81

Chris Sanderson, BSBA ’16, and Mallory (Minster) Sanderson, AB ’16

Allen Mattison, AB ’96, and Cara (Pollock) Mattison, AB 96

Camp Williams, AB 06, and Vanessa (Lewis) Williams, AB 06, MD 10

Marvin Williams, AB ’88, and Kimberly (Anderson) Williams, AB ’87

Rahi Shah, AB 18, and Ruby Arora, AB 18

Xiaopeng Dai, MArch ’12, and Anna Jia, MArch ’12