The Student Life and Culture Archives collects, preserves, and makes available the materials documenting fraternity and sorority history and all aspects of student experience at Illinois. An Illinois alumnus has made arrangements to donate photos to its collection. These, however, are not just any photos; there is an extraordinary story behind them.
The photos come from Paul Wieland, a retired Air Force colonel residing in Potomac Falls, Virginia. They feature Paul and Illinois alumna, Diane Rutter, at several fraternity and sorority formal dances on campus in 1950 and 1951.
“Diane and I became college sweethearts soon after we met, and we were almost inseparable during our junior and senior years,” recalls Paul.
The pair graduated in 1952 and stayed together for two more years; Paul went into Air Force training (she would hold onto a miniature of his silver pilot wings all these years) and Diane became a flight attendant. After parting ways, they each married different people. Paul was happily married for 59 years before his wife passed away from Alzheimer’s disease. Diane’s marriage ended in divorce.
Early last year, Paul reconnected with Diane. Several months after their reunion, more than 60 years after they first met, they were married on July 19, 2014.
On January 10, 2015, Diane unexpectedly passed away from pneumonia after two weeks in a hospital.
“We had almost six months of a loving, fairy-tale marriage,” said Paul.
Paul wishes to preserve and share the photos documenting the beginning of a love story that endured. It only seemed fitting that they return to the University of Illinois where it all began.
During their short time together after reuniting last year, Diane wrote a poem about the couple’s extended love affair; the poem was printed on their wedding program and appears below.
A Fairy Tale Love Story
by Diane Wieland
There was a young man of 19
Who was handsome, virile and lean
And a brunette with brown eyes did preen
For she was also on the scene
At the University of Illinois they gained much knowledge
And in 1952 they graduated from college
Paul went in the Air Force for airplanes to fly
Diane became a stewardess and also took to the sky
They chased each other all over the globe
And many adventures did unfold
But for many reasons, none too smart
Their paths divided, and they did part
After many decades fast forward we’ll go
They’re finally together with a love that does glow
Info on Google from the University of Maryland site
Paul found Diane’s past, all brought to light
Curiosity brought him to make a call
And lunch together brought memories to recall
Now 60 years later, Paul’s still handsome, virile and lean
And Diane with brown eyes is again on the scene
For on her left hand a diamond does gleam
Finally together, they make a great team
Now in year ’14, July 19 is the date
God’s hand was evident, and it wasn’t just fate.