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Falling in Love
Ardith Anderson Bilyeu Thompson - Class of ‘44
You might say the romance began on the tennis courts of HSU in 1943. I was in a three-year, three summers program in which I received my bachelor’s degree and teaching credential. It was wartime, and teachers were needed. I had met Virgil Bilyeu, a soldier stationed at a radar camp west of Ferndale. Virgil was off every fourth night and would hitchhike up to HSU so we could play tennis. Soon we were spending more time at the net than hitting the ball.
During this time, I was staying in the dorm, Nelson Hall, and going home to Ferndale, my hometown, on weekends. Miss Imogene (Mady) Platt was the dorm mother; she also taught business at HSU. Dr. Homer Balabanis was among my professors. Since I was minoring in instrumental music, Dr. Edmund Jeffers and Charles Fulkerson were my music instructors. Pop Jenkins taught an art class for future teachers.
I have seen the issue of marching bands in some of HSU’s publications, and I am quite sure I was part of the Lumberjack marching band - it even mentions our snappy green and gold uniforms in the 1942 yearbook, Sempervirens.
Virgil and I spent some of our courting time up behind the school at the fish hatchery. On the evening of November 11, 1943, we walked down the trail from the College Elementary School to the town of Arcata. By the stump, which is on the enclosed picture, he offered me a beautiful proposal of marriage. Since I needed to finish college, and Virgil’s wartime plans were uncertain, we waited until June 16, 1945, to be married - in the Ferndale Methodist Church where we first met. We revisited the stump on our 25th wedding anniversary. Later, it was no longer there.
I treasure the 46 years of marriage we had before Virgil died. He was a wonderful Christian man from Stillwater, Oklahoma. I keep a picture of our “stump” in a collage on my dining room wall and look at it frequently, knowing my love for him is still tucked in my heart. After teaching in Rio Dell for a year before marriage, the rest of my nearly 40-year teaching career was in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. After retiring, I did part-time substitute teaching for 22 years. I now play the piano for a senior band, take a writing course, and am on my church Board. I have three children and seven perfect grandchildren. God has been good to me.
Cassandra Hesseltine (’96, Psychology)
This year, in a few weeks, I turn 40. Big step in life. But almost as big is the fact that I have spent half my life with my husband, thanks to HSU. We met when I was 20 and he was 25 while in college. I was actually about to transfer to a college closer to home when I decided to stick it out just a little longer. A few weeks later in the fall, I met my husband to be. The unfortunate part was that he was a senior and going to graduate in the spring. I figured he would just leave once school was out and we would never see each other again. Lucky for me, I couldn’t be more wrong! Upon his graduation, he stuck around and opened up a juice bar while waiting for me. Before he graduated though, he informed me that he would one day ask me to marry him. And sure enough, in my junior year and on my birthday (Feb 15th) he asked me to do just that.
It was mid-week. I had a quiz that day on my 22nd birthday at 9 a.m. on campus. Not being a morning person, I was not looking forward to the wake up call. Unbeknownst to me, there was a surprise waiting for me. I woke up to a mini-birthday party and an escort to school by my husband (then boyfriend). While driving me to campus, he took the wrong street and ended up in front of the juice bar. In large, red letters there was the question that would change my life, “Cassandra, Will you marry me?” Of course I said yes! Minutes later there was a ring on my finger, my parents gave their blessing and I was back in route on the way to school. But there was one problem. I missed the quiz. Upon my arrival, the professor asked if I had a good reason for being late. I answered, “Yes, I just got engaged.” With a big smile, he congratulated me and asked me to take my seat.
So began the relationship of my life. From college sweetheart to husband to the father of my two children, he has been my best friend and soulmate. We have traveled together, built two houses together, had career challenges together and most importantly, experienced life together. We have dealt with tugs at the heart and enjoyed celebrations that only our children can bring.
After moving around for careers, we have settled back in Arcata. My husband is a general contractor building custom homes in Humboldt while I am the film commissioner for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. My job often leads me to work with film students at HSU and I always feel a sense of pride when I walk on campus. More importantly, I always remember our first kiss. It was fall and we were walking to campus for Lumberjack Days. We made a stop in the middle of the stairwell ascending from the lower parking lot behind Gist Hall to the front of Gist. My husband took my face in his hands and kissed me ever so sweetly. To this day, I can’t walk the stairs without thinking of it.
Ironically, as I write this, we are getting ready to attend a Humboldt State basketball game tonight. I look forward to being on campus. We just might have to make a stop on “our” stairs.
Thanks Humboldt State University for not only giving me an education but also the love of my life!
Allison Travis-Bee (’85, Political Science)
On June 18th, my husband Allan Bee and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. He likes to count the two years prior, dating back to our first burger and beer in the Rathskeller. We initially met in the fall of 1980 as transfer students in the Poli Sci pre-semester meeting. He seemed to be very clear about the path he wanted to take in life; I’m afraid I derailed him a bit. Though we both have graduate degrees from another college, our time at Humboldt laid the foundation for our relationship which has spanned all that life throws at two people over three decades and the bounty too, namely Carson and Lauren our two beautiful kids. We are at the enviable stage of watching our kids go through college and thinking back to lively classroom debates, amazing professors, beautiful beaches, towering redwoods and those damned stairs to Founder’s Hall. Happy birthday, HSU! You’re always in our hearts.
Christina Castaneda-Hull (’06, Political Science)
Steve Hull was the first friend I made at HSU. We started dating our freshman year and even worked together at HOP. He was a math major and I was deep into prepping for law school. We married June 25th 2010, the ninth anniversary of our first day as friends. At our wedding, both my Maid of Honor and his Best Man were our closest friends at HSU. Today we live in Oakland, happily married and still close to many of our HSU friends. At HSU, we not only built a solid educational foundation, but also friendships and a marriage for life.
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