Boxer Love Story: Jeannette Hill '92 and Bjorn Paige '91

Twenty-two years ago Franz Kafka introduced Bjorn to Jeannette. Jeannette had signed up for George Evans' Studies in Fiction as a freshman, a year younger than the sophomores in the class, and far, far more able than most, most especially Bjorn.

He caught her eye with a pen and ink sketch of a cockroach drawn in the white space on a page in Classics of Modern Fiction. 

Not long after, George paired them on a presentation. Bjorn talked more than he should have and left her little to say. She had the grace to let him make a fool of himself without comment, at least not until years later, when a lifetime away from Pacific they talked about first meeting.

Bjorn told her about waiting on the steps of Marsh Hall for her to come down from class, puzzled when some days she didn’t, and convinced she must be avoiding him. It took weeks before he found out she was taking Latin upstairs twice a week with the dean and a small group of students.

By Easter, Bjorn knew he was in love. 

Looking back now, those first months are a jumble of dinners together at the UC, walks through campus in the rain, and long goodnights under the lights between Mac and Walter Hall. Bjorn cherishes those memories, his richest of Pacific, and they maintain that magical quality reserved for monumental love.

Jeannette and Bjorn spent three years together at Pacific, living on and off campus, taking classes together and apart, and making the transition from being kids to adults. In the spring of Jeanette's graduation, the couple got married in Old College Hall, professors and fellow students quietly smiling at how young they were.

Now, they're old enough that their nine-year-old daughter, Ella, can laugh aloud at Bjorn's silly undergraduate hair, and see just how beautiful his wife looked.

"Truth be told," said Bjorn, "I'm still goofy looking, just with less hair, and Jeannette is as beautiful as she was when I first sat next to her in Studies in Fiction."

Pacific was the setting of their courtship, and still inspires thoughts of young love. They’re far away from Forest Grove now, with experiences diverse: joyful, tragic, beautiful and mundane separating them from their undergraduate years, and yet, when Bjorn got the postcard from Pacific titled LOVE, it took him all of ten seconds to put his hands on Classics of Modern Fiction.

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Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014