Three Crown Couples Diagnosed: In Love!

Three Crown Couples Diagnosed: In Love!

By Josie Parker

Ah, love is in the air.

You’re a young, eager student at Crown College. On a typical weekday morning, you find yourself sitting in a chapel service, surrounded by other students. Campus Chaplain, Dr. Bill Kuhn, asks the student body to bow their heads in prayer and join hands with their neighbors. You reach over to grab your neighbor’s hand, only to look up and realize that person is the most beautiful person you’ve ever laid eyes on.

You find yourself praying that your hands don’t feel super sweaty.

That must have been the case for these Crown alumni because, while they attended the college, they also met and married a fellow classmate. I reached out to three hopelessly romantic alumni and asked them to share their stories. Are you hearing wedding bells, or is that just me? Here are three stories told by the couples who met and fell in love at Crown College:  

John and Kimberley Grossoehme – Married in 1987

John: It was a well known fact at what was then St. Paul Bible College: many young people came not just to get their BA but also their “MR.” or “MRS.” degree. There were a few who purported to be a part of the BTR club (Bachelor ‘Til the Rapture), but a few of them fell and fell hard. I was among them.  

I met Kimberley with a group of friends who brought her to our bowling outing. We got to know each other and I would take a break in the evening to take a walk with her or teach her backgammon. She worked breakfasts in the cafeteria and I began to look forward to “service with a smile.” I think that won my heart.  

We began going out together seriously, often sitting together during chapel. At one point, we believed we were perhaps together too often so we stopped sitting together. This caused quite a stir by classmates who questioned us as to whether we were still together or not. Had to keep them guessing.

After I graduated, Kimberley still had two years left of school. I got a job nearby to wait for her to graduate. In November, I called her parents to ask for her hand in marriage. They gave their permission, but I waited to ask her. I wanted to wait for the perfect time.

We went to her house for Thanksgiving break. Her parents were my “partners in crime.” Her dad left his Bible “accidently” at church and needed to stop by to pick it up. We went in with him because I “wanted to see” something. We were up by the altar, I knelt down and I asked her to pray with me. I prayed about our future and God’s leading. When I finished, I looked her in the eyes, told her I loved her and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. Would she marry me? Her father listened in. She said yes, and about seven months later in 1987 we were married at that same altar.

Jonathan and Tina Vinson – Married in 2011

Tina: I first saw Jonathan on stage playing in the worship band during Welcome Weekend at Crown. He was a sophomore and I was a freshman. When I walked into the gym for the first chapel of the semester, I pointed him out to my roommates and said to them, “If I ever marry that guy, I will believe in love at first sight.” I didn’t even know his name at that point, who he was, what class he was in, or if he was even dating anyone! It wasn’t too hard to figure out his name and who he was (thank you, Facebook).

Shortly after I found out who Jonathan was, I attended an impromptu swing dance lesson. Guess who was teaching this little class? Jonathan. So I pretended like I didn’t know his name when he introduced himself to me, and that was when we “officially” met.

After meeting him, I tried to be in common places where he might be so we could have more opportunities to talk. Meanwhile, I was confused and frustrated as to why I couldn’t get this guy who I barely knew out of my head! (I had come to Crown with no intent on dating my first year.) We quickly became friends–I think Jonathan caught on that I always “happened to be” in places like the coffee shop–and we began to hang out more frequently. Late that October, he finally (I felt like I had been waiting forever) told me he was interested in me. We started dating that January (2009) and got married August 20, 2011.

We will be married six years this August!  

Michael and Darlene Bortel – Married in 1968

Michael: I first noticed Darlene at what was then St. Paul Bible College in history class, but I was too shy to ask her out. So, I did it through a friend. We went out on a triple date (all the Deans of the college were pleased with this arrangement). We played miniature golf, rowed paddle boats on Como Lake, and finished up by going to Bridgeman’s for ice cream.

We started dating steadily throughout our sophomore year and into the early weeks of our junior year. However, we realized we were not ready to continue the relationship. We separated and both dated other people as we sought God’s will for this area of our lives. This separation continued throughout our junior year and into the early months of our senior year.

One night I was conversing with Darlene’s roommate, Susan. I began to realize that Darlene was the yardstick by which I measured everyone else. She was pretty, she was really smart, she was fun, and she had an attractive faith. I was particularly drawn to how the Lord seemed to have His hand on her life in a very special way. I wanted to be part of that.

Susan lobbied for me to give the relationship with Darlene another try. Finally, I asked Susan to go inside and tell Darlene I would like to talk. I wanted her to come down just as she was. She came bounding down the stairs, outside, and across the yard with her hair up in jumbo curlers, glasses on, and wearing a Montana sweatshirt with cutoffs. Absolutely beautiful to me.

As we talked that night and ensuing weeks, we both found the year apart allowed us to grow and mature in ways which helped prepare us for the future and a life together. That night we got back together.

Things moved quickly as they often do on small Christian campuses. Wanting to do things properly, I scheduled a meeting with Dean Rev. Shepson to gain his approval to be engaged that fall. In spite of carefully outlining how our relationship had moved to this important stage, he carefully and sincerely told me no. As Proverbs says, “there is wisdom in a multitude of counselors.” In my world, Mr. Shepson was just one!

On Thanksgiving eve in 1967, I took Darlene for a ride in a borrowed car to Keller Lake with the ring tucked safely underneath the driver’s seat. I put the ring on her finger and asked her to marry me.

Nearly 50 years together have come and gone since that wonderful night.  We have 3 amazing sons and 8 wonderful grandchildren. We are thankful for the education we received at St. Paul Bible College and for the many wonderful relationships we formed while there. Most importantly, we are thankful we found each other.

Hearts of Crown

There are so many love stories to be told! In 2016, the College offered couples who had met at Crown a unique opportunity. Couples could request a new park bench placed on campus displaying a heart with their engraved initials. Along with these pairs, 66 additional Crown couples decided to leave their mark on the campus, commemorating how the College brought them together forever.

Jill Osborn, Vice President of External Relations, says, “Hearts of Crown couples now find their bench on campus and take pictures creating more great memories of Crown and their relationship. Plus everyone likes the benches, so couples bring others a little joy on campus, too.”

If you and your spouse are interested in having your initials carved into a Hearts of Crown bench, please contact