Our First Date

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Blog, Featured | 11 comments

Our First Date

In looking back over my 50 one-pagers that I’ve written over the past 4 years for this blog, I see ones written about my father, my mother, the entire Dupre family, and our two boys. Occasionally, I get tired of writing about consulting, leadership, acts of courage, dysfunction, and the like—I need to shift gears, expand my horizon, and write about my life and things that I care about. But I realize that I have never written about my relationship with Farn, my wife. Here is one of my favorite stories to share about the two of us…

We met at Beloit College in Wisconsin, back in 1969. I was in my second year and Farn was a freshman. I had been out in California for my field study that fall and had returned to Beloit after the Christmas holiday. We quickly became close friends.

One evening in February we were sitting around with a few other friends and we got talking about the Mississippi River. Farn mentioned that she had never seen it, coming to college from New York City. So, I quickly said, “I’ll take you to the Mississippi.” She looked at me and responded, “Great!” without even hesitating.

The next morning, we packed some clothes in a backpack and walked to the edge of town. The temperature was minus 10 degrees—freezing cold! We got to an on-ramp of Interstate 90 and put out our thumbs and began hitchhiking. The river was about 200 miles away so we figured that we’d get there sometime that day. Our hitchhiking trip was a story in itself but, for now, we arrived at a bridge crossing the Mississippi at around 10:00pm, practically frozen. We had been standing by the side of the road, sometimes for hours, waiting for rides. But we kept up our sense of humor, despite the cold. We then walked across the bridge into Dubuque, Iowa. The river was mostly frozen. There were no cars, no people, and nothing was moving. It was eerie and felt a bit surreal.

We went to the first hotel that we could find. Farn waited outside while I went in to get us a room. We were both uncomfortable checking in together. Once I checked in, I went outside and got Farn and snuck her up to my room. We slept in a double bed with all of our clothes on. I seem to remember that the bed was soft so I was lying in the middle and Farn was holding on to the edge so she wouldn’t roll on top of me. The next morning, which was Valentine’s Day, Farn and I hitchhiked back to Beloit—an innocent yet adventurous first date. And we’ve been together ever since—almost 50 years!

This story is a metaphor for our relationship. Our ability to laugh and have fun together as well as to sit quietly together has enabled us to seek adventure and to try new things in new places– regardless of any difficulties. It’s been a fun ride and a constant joy.


  1. Great first date John! We took a road trip shortly after we met (but in my VW rabbit) from Wosconsin to L.A. We listened to the book Psycho on tape through the countryside at night. Truly memorable!

    Love to you both, Liza

  2. Definitely an adventure for a first date!

  3. Great story John, If I’m figuring the dates right, your journey was February 1970 and the #1 song on the charts was Bridge over Toubled Waters, a metaphor for your career in helping others.

  4. I love this story, John….and the picture even more! Missing you and Farn!

  5. What a wonderful story – and a prelude to all the wonderful times you’ve had together over almost 50 years. Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Great story…..you two haven’t changed at all!!

  7. This is so sweet! Thanks for sharing this innocent yet personal moment.

  8. Well… apart from the really charming story of young love, what I notice is that it prompted more comments than usual. Yet again, I’m struck by the power of the personal.

    Perhaps you (and all of us) need to veer off the ‘professional piste’ more often, and with more confidence. The personal is the gaping hole at the heart of the professional aspects of life you (and most of us) normally attend to, John. That’s the whole f**king problem!

    Pardon my French 🙂

  9. A sweet and amazing story, John. I never heard it before. A great example of your and Farn’s adventurous spirits. Thanks for sharing it! Eric

  10. Such a fun story!

  11. I’ve known John and Farn personally since their early days. While they’ve matured as individuals and as a couple….those young adventurers are still alive and well in them. I agree with Paula. I’d love you to share more personal tales from both your past and your current life. I’d like to hear what you have to say about leaving work behind, grandchildren, your new painting passion, thoughts on an aging body/mind.

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